SEAOC President’s Message – September 2015

It has been a tremendous honor serving as 2014-2015 SEAOC President.  Before I turn over the reins on October 1 to the 2015-2016 SEAOC Board and President Kelly Cobeen, I wanted to leave you with a few final thoughts.

SEAOC has had a very good year on a number of fronts:

  • Our technical committees have been active and productive.  Some examples include:
    • Seismology Committee has been working on the next version of Volume 1 of the SSDM and has also been looking at implications of changes coming in ASCE 7-16 so that we can be prepared once it is in effect.
    • Wind Committee has commissioned a study on special wind regions and has effectively incorporated 3 major changes in ASCE 7-16 largely based on their previous work related to PV panels.
    • Existing Buildings Committee has been working on the transition to the IEBC now that Chapter 34 has been deleted from the IBC, particularly as this change relates to adoption of the next CBC.
  • We have had a busy and successful year of webinars thanks to continued leadership from Kelly Cobeen and the webinar committee.  (With Kelly transitioning to SEAOC President, it would be great to get a few more people involved in those efforts.)
  • We have begun updating the SSDM series for the 2015 IBC and have begun planning the version for the 2018 IBC.

If those sound too inwardly focused, some of our external efforts include:

  • We have nearly finalized an agreement with FEMA and ATC to organizationally partner on a publication of design examples based on ASCE 41-13.  The Board is excited about this because the content will be extremely valuable but also because it represents an opportunity to partner with two great, like-minded organizations.  Hopefully this is the first of many such ventures to come.
  • Our Legislative Committee has been more active than ever: making connections, offering advice, suggesting revisions to bill language, seeking to educate, learning some lessons in the process, and gaining ground all in the name of good engineering practice and seismic policy.
  • Our Licensing Committee has made significant progress on our efforts toward a “Significant Structures” amendment to the PE act so that licensed structural engineers would be required to design structures that are important to community preparedness for, response to, and recovery from a natural disaster.
  • SEAOC will soon announce a “SEAOC Correspondent” program in an effort to allow interested individuals beyond California’s borders to become more connected to what SEAOC is doing.  SEAOC has thousands of people, in the United States and internationally, interested in what we are doing.  One great case in point is how popular the SEAOC PV design reports are and how widespread they are being used.  I recently met someone from Australia who shared with me how the SEAOC PV documents are being used extensively on “his side” of the Pacific: in New Zealand, Singapore, and elsewhere.
  • In response to the tragic balcony collapse in Berkeley in June, SEAOC (with the help of SEAONC) reached-out to other regional and statewide organizations such as AIA, ICC, and CalBO and, as a coalition, offered our collective expertise to assist the City of Berkeley moving forward.  SEAOC now has an Elevated Exterior Elements working group that is effectively and nimbly working on the specific issues associated with this tragedy.

I am convinced that it is external activities like these that we need to continue to seek out and respond to as we strive to protect the public and elevate our profession.

The process to update SEAOC’s Long Range Plan is well underway.  Great feedback has been received through the survey questions and from the interactive, focused workshop at the Convention.  Much more will be talked about in the coming year, but in the meantime, let me plant two seeds:

  • We need to increase membership participation.  We can do this two ways:
    • Each of us can get more involved and encourage other existing members to do the same.
    • Each of us can recruit new members and show them ways to get involved.

In either case, we all have the opportunity to encourage more people to join us in our cause.  Explain to them why you are a member and the benefits of getting involved.

  • We need to individually and collectively engage in the world around us and continue to seek opportunities to advocate for our profession through external activities.

I know that there are more opportunities for SEAOC to engage and to be effective.  However, we need more participation both internally and externally and we need a constant eye beyond our own circles to be able to take advantage of those external opportunities in particular.

The 2014-2015 SEAOC Board of Directors and Officers has shown tremendous dedication to the well-being and continued success of our Association.  They have taken their responsibility at the state and local levels very seriously, have sought opinions and perspective from many different sources, and have made decisions in the best interest of all SEAOC members.  The SEAOC Board has appropriately guided this Association for the past year and I know the incoming Board will do the same in the coming year under our new President’s leadership.  If you ever get the opportunity to serve on a local board or the state SEAOC Board, I strongly encourage you to do so.  I promise it will be both personally and professionally rewarding.

We should all be proud of what SEAOC is doing for our profession and the public in general.  With that said, we all owe it to ourselves, to our profession, and to the public good, to challenge and expect our co-workers and colleagues to join us in our service and to constantly seek new, better, and more outwardly-focused activities for SEAOC to participate in and influence.

Thank you for your participation and support this year.  I look forward to working with many of you in the years to come as we work together to advance this great Association.


Ryan A. Kersting, S.E.

2014-2015 SEAOC President

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