“…and another one gone, and another one gone, another one bites the dust!” – Freddie Mercury
Now, I’m not one usually for putting quotes or music lyrics at the beginning of my messages (shout out to our esteemed Past Past President for using that technique better than anyone I’ve ever read in this forum) but this month it seemed appropriate. That little ditty recorded by Queen back in 1980 was the song that my wife and I walked back from the altar to after getting hitched. We found it eminently fitting for the occasion; our little joke to let everyone know that we weren’t taking all the pomp and circumstance too seriously. Our wedding was a nerdy affair, which tends to happen when one SE marries another SE. We entered the reception wearing our hard hats, and there were plenty of bad engineering puns to go along with all the mirth. After twelve years of marriage and two kids, I am happy to say that our marriage is still structurally sound (buh dum chh!).
You may be asking, that was a vaguely amusing little non sequitur with a disco backbeat, but what does this have to do with a SEAOSD President’s Message? Well, after sixteen years of working as a structural engineer, my wife has decided to leave the field of structural engineering to pursue other opportunities. As much as I am excited to see this new chapter in her life unfold, I am saddened to lose such an experienced female engineer from our engineering community. While her reasons for pursuing a different career were her own, it does highlight an industry wide problem that has only been exacerbated by the COVID pandemic, namely that people, especially women, are leaving our industry. Engineers with her skill set and experience are not a dime a dozen and her leaving reinforces the importance of the work of the SE3 initiatives that have recently been put into place to help understand why people are leaving and what we can do to reverse the trend and create a stronger and more inclusive profession.
I feel that solving this problem is one of the most important existential challenges our industry has to face, but we will rise to the occasion and solve it because solving problems is what we do for a living. We need to remember however that this is not a problem we can solve in our usual ways. We cannot throw our usual mix of math and physics at the problem. It takes nuance, communication, understanding, and ultimately, a fundamental change in how we do business and develop the next generation of engineers. What I relate this to structurally is seismic design. For hundreds of years engineers did not understand or design for seismic loads. As we became more aware of seismic behavior of our geology and seismic performance of buildings, we began to study these complex issues more and incorporate meaningful change into our industry. We started to place more value on previously underappreciated things like ductility over strength, regularity over complexity, redundancy, and energy absorption over ultra-conservative strength design. We are now to the point in our understanding of the underlying behaviors at hand that we are able, via Performance Based Design, to cater creative and unique solutions to particular structures for multiple performance objectives without being held to a one size fits all approach. This is an analogy I see for the fundamental changes we should consider for people in our industry.
Now hopefully you are asking yourself how can I help be a part of the solution? Well, the obvious first thing to do is to educate yourself on the issue. The SE3 Project (http://www.se3project.org/) is a great online resource on this subject. The video that SEAONC produced about the kickoff of SE3 is inspiring and the Best Practices Section is very informative. Also of note, the data from their most recent workplace survey is soon to be released, so I am curious to see if there are any trends of note. Another recommended read would be Same Words, Different Language, by Barbara Annis, which details gender communication issues and explains how we can better understand and work with each other. After that, the most important thing you can do is to become a mentor for others and to seek out mentors for yourself, both within and outside your organization. Strong mentoring relationships are one of the keys to developing a successful and satisfying career in any field, but especially engineering. We have a very difficult and demanding profession, so making connections with people that can help guide you and provide perspective is critical. If you are interested in becoming a mentor for those outside of your organization, or are looking to connect with potential mentors, please reach out to the Board or the SE3 and YMF committees. One of the main purposes of SEAOSD is to be a resource to our members. Please lend your support and tap into the amazing resource of our hundreds of members because none of us want to hear more stories of “another one gone…”
Some important reminders:
- Nominations are open to fill three seats on the SEAOSD Board of Directors for the upcoming year. Please see the website for more info. The positions available are:
- Director (two available), which is a two-year commitment and may be filled by either a Member or Member SE,
- Vice President, which is a three-year commitment along our leadership track, and must be filled by a Member SE
- Nominations are also open for the ultimate honor our organization can bestow, the SEAOC College of Fellows. Please reach out to the Board if you want to recognize one of the pillars of our engineering community.
- Nominations for the SEAOSD Excellence in Structural Engineering Awards has also opened up. If you are proud of any of the amazing work that you have completed over the past couple years, please submit your entry for recognition.
In closing, I would like to remind you to please reach out to me or any member of the Board if you have any feedback on the Association’s work or have any ideas on how we can provide better value for our membership.
Take care and stay safe!
Steve Spence, S.E.
EXCELLENCE IN STRUCTURAL ENGINEERING SEAOC / SEAOSD 2021 AWARDS PROGRAM ENTRIES
March 08, 2021 12:00 PM to May 07, 2021 12:00 PM
EXCELLENCE IN STRUCTURAL ENGINEERING SEAOC / SEAOSD 2021 AWARDS PROGRAM Entries
SEAOSD APRIL 20, 2021 WEBINAR OSHPD AND CITY OF SAN DIEGO SEISMIC INSTRUMENTATION PROGRAMS
April 20, 2021
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
Webinar (Will be done online)
Links will be sent soon to registered attendees only
SEAOSD April 20, 2021 Webinar OSHPD and City of San Diego Seismic Instrumentation Programs
SEAOSD ANNUAL GOLF TOURNAMENT MAY 10, 2021
May 10, 2021
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Twin Oaks Golf Course
1425 North Twin Oaks Valley Road
San Marcos, CA 92069
SEAOSD Annual Golf Tournament May 10, 2021
Tiberiu Polocoser - Member
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