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News: SEAOC News

SEAOC's collaboration with the Applied Technology Council

Friday, September 23, 2016  

By Kelly Cobeen, S.E., SEAOC President

This is another in a series of newsletter articles discussing organizations with which SEAOC has collaborative relationships. Established in 1973, the Applied Technology Council (ATC) is a nonprofit corporation that plays the very unique role of transfer of information from research to practicing engineers. SEAOC has a very long-standing collaboration with ATC, and in fact SEAOC was involved in its founding.

The work of ATC primarily occurs as a series of funded projects that result in publications. Possibly the most widely known among the ATC publications are ATC-20 Procedures for Postearthquake Safety Evaluation of Buildings, and ATC-21, the associated field manual. Started in 1987 and first published around the time of the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake, this publication provides the basic procedure that has been used for safety assessment following earthquakes in California and beyond, and is the basis for the California OES Safety Assessment Program (SAP). SEAOC Members that have been trained as SAP volunteers have used these publications, and hopefully keep copies with their SAP volunteer card, ready to use if activated following future earthquakes.

Other powerhouse publications from ATC’s past include ATC 3-06, Tentative Provisions for the Development of Seismic Regulations for Buildings, published in 1978. This publication served as the initial basis for the NEHRP Recommended Seismic Provisions for New Buildings and Other Structures, which, now adopted into each edition of ASCE 7, serves as the basis of buildings code seismic design requirements. In addition, in 1997 the ATC-33 project developed the FEMA-273 Guidelines for the Seismic Rehabilitation of Buildings, which ultimately served as the basis for ASCE 41-06 and portions of ASCE 41-13, Seismic Evaluation and Retrofit of Existing Buildings. The ATC-58 project is significantly effecting design practice, producing the FEMA P-58 series of documents providing guidance and tools for performance-based seismic design. These are just a few of the many ATC projects that have and will continue to significantly influence structural design practice. Many past and present SEAOC members have served in key roles in the development of ATC products and reports, and ATC projects are a place where SEAOC continues to have a major influence in the future of structural engineering.

The ATC web site lists 19 currently active ATC projects, covering a wide range of topics; the list is available at SEAOC is currently a collaborator on the ATC-124 project, helping to write and review example problems for the application of ASCE 41. While initially focused primarily on seismic issues, ATC efforts have broadened to include other environmental hazards. Publications from many past projects are relevant and used daily by practicing engineers; these can be found at the online store  

At the helm of ATC is Executive Director and SEAOC Member Jon Heintz, assisted by SEAOC member Ayse Hortacsu, Scott Schiff, Veronica Cedillos, Bernadette Hadnagy and Carrie Perna. Chris Rojahn, retired after leading ATC for over 30 years, now serves as Director Emeritus, and continues to advise and assist on ongoing ATC work. The ATC Board of Directors is primarily populated by appointees from structural engineering organizations. There are currently five persons on the ATC Board serving as appointees of SEAOC Member Organizations: Bill Staehlin serves on behalf of SEAOCC, Jim Amundson and Tony Court serve on behalf of SEAOSD, Doug Hohbach serves on behalf of SEAONC, and Bill Warren serves on behalf of SEAOSC. Other members of the board are appointees of NCSEA, Structural Engineers Association of New York, the Structural Engineering Institute of ASCE and Western Council of Structural Engineers Associations; additional members are appointed by the ATC board. Also invited to interact with the ATC board are representatives of partner organizations. In this partner role, the SEAOC President is invited to ATC board meetings as an observer. I have been able to join several ATC Board meetings over the past year in this role, providing an opportunity to discuss similar interests and issues, and collaboration between our organizations. The SEAOC newsletter includes links to ATC newsletters as they are published.