The SEAOC College of Fellows is pleased to announce its first ever SEAOC College of Fellow Scholar, Robert Kraus of SEAONC. The $5,000 scholarship award helps cover tuition for a graduate student in structural engineering who has returned to school following at least year of engineering work experience. Qualifying applicants provide a resume or CV with an essay on their career goals.
Funding for the scholarship is generously provided through the SEAOC Foundation by members of the SEAOC College of Fellows, which plans to offer the scholarship every year. For more information on the program, please contact SEAOC Fellow John Coil at firstname.lastname@example.org.
An Interview with Robert
1. What areas of structural engineering interest you the most?
I am most interested in earthquake engineering; more specifically, in performance based earthquake engineering as well as seismic retrofitting of older existing buildings and structures. Finding existing strengths to leverage among the peculiarities of irregular and non-ductile older buildings has proven to be an enjoyable challenge; even if it occasionally lands you in dark crawlspaces and dusty attics.
2. Why are you going back to school?
As the concept of resiliency gains a foothold with policy makers and the general public, I look forward to the conversations it will spark around our ideas of acceptable seismic risk and building performance. I am optimistic this attention will mean significant changes to the standard of earthquake engineering over the course of my career.
The deeper understanding afforded by a master’s degree will certainly be helpful as structural analysis and modeling complexity continues to increase. Ultimately though, it was this sense of impending change in our field that made me return to graduate school. I wanted to have the stronger educational foundation to actively participate in this process as it continues to unfold, and be in a position to contribute through professional organizations and research.
3. As the first SEAOC College of Fellows Scholar, do you have any advice for students or colleagues that are even younger than yourself?
I would emphasize the power of hard work and determination to those just entering into structural engineering. Our industry is well stocked with brilliant individuals whose technical knowledge and extraordinary accomplishments can seem out of reach as a young professional. While natural intellect is certainly part of the equation to their success, never underestimate the value of extremely hard work and a positive attitude in achieving your professional objectives.
4. What is something that no one knows about you?
When I am not in the office, neck-deep in spreadsheets for hypothetical future-earthquakes, I can be found a few thousand feet above the office, collecting aerial imagery of hypothetical past-earthquake damage. In my spare time I volunteer as a Search and Rescue\Disaster Relief Mission Pilot for the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary where I fly small aircraft with crews often training in roles ranging from natural disaster assessment and recovery to tsunami early warning.
Additionally, I am 27 years old. I worked during the end of my undergraduate program (2011 - 2012) at a small civil engineering firm in San Diego, Florez Engineering, Inc., doing primarily grading and utility plans. I received my BS in Civil Engineering magna cum laude from San Diego State University in December 2011. I joined WJE in early 2012 where I am still working on a very limited part-time basis while in school.