President's Message - October 2015

By Kelly Cobeen, S.E., SEAOC President 2015-2016

On October 1, SEAOC officially began its 2015-2016 year. While many association activities continue from prior years, the start of the 2015-2016 year brought new activity, new faces in leadership, honors, presentations, and planning. The following are a few items of interest.

NCSEA Summit

NCSEA held its 2015 Structural Engineering Summit September 30 through October 3 in Las Vegas Nevada. and SEAOC members, SEAOC Committee representatives to NCSEA Committees, and SEAOC leadership all had a presence.

2014-2015 SEAOC President Ryan Kersting, and directors Kate Stillwell and Kevin O’Connell gave a combined presentation informing people of SEAOC and Member Organization involvement with recent efforts addressing community resiliency, including development of earthquake performance rating systems, and advocacy and interaction with the City of Los Angeles in support of the Mayoral Seismic Safety Task Force recommendations and retrofit ordinances. The presenters identified these as examples of the structural engineering profession providing leadership to local communities, and challenged the audience to think about how their associations might be able to similarly assist their local communities.

Ron Hamburger gave an informative presentation on the basis for the ASCE 7 Seismic Design Maps, including a history of development of seismic hazard maps used for design, discussion of recent concerns that have developed within the code development community, and initial thoughts about new directions that might be set in the mapping update that is currently getting underway.

Norm Scheel continued in his role as the SEAOC delegate to NCSEA, SEAOC member Bill Warren continues as an officer of the NCSEA board, and SEAOC member Emily Guglielmo joined the board as a new board member. SEAOC Member Carl Josephson received the 2015 Robert Cornforth Award for his exemplary service to SEAOC and its Member Organizations, particularly in the areas of SE licensure and certification. And Emily Guglielmo Received the 2015 Susan M. Frey Educator Award.  

National Academy of Engineers Inducts Hamburger

At its 2015 Annual Meeting in October, the National Academy of Engineers inducted SEAOC member Ronald O. Hamburger as a member of the National Academy of Engineers. This high honor is bestowed upon engineers having distinguished themselves in business and academic management, in technical positions, as university faculty, and as leaders in government and private engineering organizations. Congratulations to Ron for this well-deserved recognition.

New Committee Leadership

The September 2015 SEAOC Talk introduced the 2015-2016 SEAOC Board of Directors. Some of the incoming SEAOC committee leadership is introduced below; introductions will continue in future SEAOC talk editions. Most of the SEAOC committees serve as an extension of committees at the local level, and the committees include the leadership of the local committee. Thank you to all who participate at the local and state level and look forward to a year of engaging activities.

-Kevin Moore continues on as the chair of the SEAOC Structural Standards Committee. This committee provides a forum through which the SEAOC technical committees pursue and coordinate work related to state and national buildings codes, national standards, publications, and other technical forums.

-Ben Mohr has taken up leadership of the SEAOC Seismology Committee, assisted by Silvia Mazzoni. The committee is currently in the process of defining goals for the coming year, including new and updated blue book articles, and potential future changes to national standards.

-James Lai and Ken Luttrell continue as chairs of the SEAOC Wind Committee. Committee goals include: continuation of an extreme wind speed study program, a white paper on special wind regions, update of SEAOC solar photo voltaic (PV) design publications, development of guidance on gravity load with solar PV, and review code change proposals to the IBC.

Long Range Planning Meeting Approaches

This is a reminder that in January 2016 the SEAOC board will be updating the SEAOC Long-Range Plan. The updated plan will play an important role in directing the focus of the association’s energy and engagement over coming years, including identification of specific priority action items. You still have a few weeks to contribute your thoughts and suggestions to this update. Please email your input to by Friday November 20.

SEAOC/SEAONC Committee on Elevated Exterior Elements

Started as a combined SEAONC and SEAOC Ad-hoc committee following the June 2015 collapse of a deck in Berkeley, the SEAONC/SEAOC Committee on Exterior Elevated Elements (CEEE) continues activities related to exposed wood decks, balconies and stairs. Working with a task force established by the City of Berkeley, the CEEE has contributed to Berkeley inspection forms, inspection guidelines and FAQ information for building owners. On October 21, 2015 the committee, in collaboration with the SEAOC board, provided a letter to the California Building Standards Commission encouraging the commissioners to consider building code and residential code changes that might be appropriate in response to the Berkeley collapse. It is anticipated that the commission will establish an ad-hoc committee on which the CEEE can participate.

Other Happenings of Note

-The fifth annual SEAOSC Strengthening Our Cities Summit is being held November 4 & 5 in downtown Los Angeles. Day 1 presentations will inform engineers on the latest seismic retrofit tools, techniques, rules, and proposals and how to use them, while Day 2 presentations are intended convene government, business, and technical experts to move forward together to address the community’s needs and highlight trends and best practices for building owners, businesses, and government in addressing existing buildings. Go to   for further information.

-On October 9, 2015 the City of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti signed into law an ordinance requiring mandatory evaluation and retrofit of soft-story wood frame buildings and nonductile concrete buildings. SEAOSC was a significant participant in the process that led to the adoption of this ordinance, and is to be congratulated on this achievement. More information to follow.

-On September 27-28 SEAOSC represented SEAOC by participating in the ICC Annual Conference in Long Beach, further strengthening our relationship with the building code official community.  With nearly constant visits and many questions, conference attendees showed exceptional interest in structural engineers and our profession, as well as how SEAOSC & SEAOC serve our members, the construction industry, and the community at large. 

-The ICC deadline for submittal of proposed changes to the structural provisions of the 2018 International Building Code, International Residential Code and International Existing Buildings Code, is January 11, 2016. If you have interest in code changes and want to make an impact on future codes, please contact your local Seismology, Code/General Engineering or Existing Buildings committee (SEAOCC, SEAONC, SEAOSC, & SEAOSD).

Warming up Your Aloha for 2016 Convention

The SEAONC Convention Committee has been hard at work planning the 2016 SEAOC Convention in Ka’anapali, Maui. While they are busy planning the technical presentations, luaus, and such, I would like all of you to be warming up your Aloha, your linguistic skills, and your cultural knowledge. Each SEAOC Talk between now and the convention will include a short snippet of information to help make sure that by next October you are ready to pass as a Kama’aina.

Pronunciation: The general rule in Hawaiian is that you pronounce all of the letters, even when there are three or more vowels strung together. The addition of the glottal stop (‘) is a reminder to pronounce two adjacent vowels separately.

Vocabulary: A few important terms to start with.

Aloha - The most important of Hawaiian words, comes from affection or love and is widely used to say hello and goodbye. It also engenders an aloha spirit of kindness to all.

Mahalo - Means thank you - always good to have at hand. If you have something big to be thankful for, mahalo nui loa means thank you big and long.

Kama’aina - Means child of the land (aina), or a local.

Pau hana - Means done (pau) with work (hana), but more importantly pau hana means it is happy hour. Most local restaurants and bars will have pau hana hours, and if you are lucky this will include live local slack-key guitar music.

Legends: Hawaii has a very strong oral legend tradition, with many colorful gods and goddesses including the well-known volcano goddess Pele, who has been known to seek fiery revenge. These legends can be found in beautifully illustrated local books, and are often the stories behind hula dances. Because we are meeting on Maui, of interest is the legend of Maui climbing to the top of Haleakala Volcano to lasso the sun. Maui asks that the sun slow down its daily journey so his mother can finish her daily chores; word is that a compromise is found. Many other legends of Maui the Fisherman can be found in Pacific Island lore.

Display Location: