In this issue

Regional Meetings Update

April 5th - GEOPIER Rammed Aggregate Pier System.  Details can be found HERE.

Exciting news: This spring, we are looking to establish a YOUNG MEMBER'S group in the Cincinnati area -- be on the lookout for additional announcements.  If you are interested in being involved, please send us an email.

– Cincinnati Team Leaders:

Mindy Barber, P.E.; Phil Niekamp, E.I.; Abby Lehmenkuler, E.I.


April 24th - Note that this is a TUESDAY.  Details are being finalized for a presentation on "SDI Diaphragm Design Manual" and a possible 2nd presentation.  Prelim info HERE & watch your email for more info.  

Have a topic that interests you?  We are always open to your input, please drop us a line.  And look to this newsletter and your email for upcoming sessions.

– Cleveland Team Leaders:
Dave Ferencik, P.E.; Tim Gilbert, P.E., S.E.;  Jason Hoover, P.E., S.E.

SEAoO Columbus 

April 26th - Retrofit, Modeling, and Collapse Assessment of Existing Buildings. Click HERE for more info. 

– Columbus Team Leaders:

Dale Schiefer; Matt Inkrott, P.E.

These is not a meeting currently planned for April; however, if you have suggestions for an interesting topic or speak, please be sure to fill out the survey to let us know!

– Toledo Team Leader:
Dennis Birkemeier, P.E.

There is not a meeting currently planned for April.

May 16 - Being the EOR for a Metal Building Project. Click HERE for more info.

May 24 - Int'l Masonry Institute Storm Shelter Workshop (non-SEAoO event).  Info HERE.

If you have suggestions for an interesting topic or speaker, please let us know.

– Dayton Team Leaders:
Mark Remmetter, P.E., S.E.; Steve Mitchell, E.I., Peter Giesel


April 2018  

SEAoO News

Help Build our Profession's Equity by Sharing Your Thoughts

The NCSEA Structural Engineering Engagement and Equity (SE3) Committee is currently administering a nationwide survey of structural engineering professionals. This survey is designed to provide valuable information about our profession regarding demographics, compensation, satisfaction, and engagement. It will be one of the largest comprehensive nationwide surveys of structural engineering professionals to date, and we invite you to contribute to this project by completing the survey below.

This project began in 2015 when SEAONC (Structural Engineers Association of Northern California) funded a committee to study engagement and equity in the structural engineering profession. In 2016, this group administered their first national survey of over 2,100 structural engineering professionals. Findings from this study included insight into why engineers leave the profession, the importance of mentorship, and the existence of a nuanced gender pay gap.

In mid-2017, an SE3 Committee was created at the national level through NCSEA with the primary goal of administering a similar nationwide study of structural engineering professionals every two years. This biennial survey will focus on measuring engagement and equity with the goal of providing data and best practices to help ensure that every structural engineering professional has a positive experience within our profession.

Over the past seven months, we’ve been developing the 2018 version of this survey, and it is now live! We would love to have your input.

Take the Survey Now

Thank you for your time; we look forward to providing relevant, interesting, and thought-provoking information from our 2018 and future surveys.

NCSEA SE3 Committee

Back to top

SEAoO Annual Conference

Planning has begun, hotel block is open

SEAoO's very popular Annual Conference will again be held at the Columbus Airport Marriott on Sep 6 & 7 (Thu/Fri).  Our committee has already confirmed several speakers, and we're looking forward to another outstanding event.  If you have ideas for speakers or topics, please let me know. 

And if you want to get a jump on planning, the discounted hotel room block ($141/nt) is now available for reservations:  Book your group rate for Structural Engineers Assn.

Jason Hoover
SEAoO Annual Conference Committee Chair
Back to top

SEAoO Education Committee

Scholarship Opportunities:

We are currently accepting applications for the 2018 SEAoO Educational Awards through the April 20th deadline.  We're excited to again offer a total of $7,000 to undergraduate students!  Professionals, please encourage your co-ops/interns to apply; students, please apply! Click here to access the application, suggested paper format, and see previous winning papers: Basic Education Committee Webpage.


Student Competitions:

Good luck to all of the SEAoO student members participating in the upcoming Ohio Valley and North Central Regional Concrete Canoe and Steel Bridge Competitions.  Be sure to check out the May Newsletter for a summary of the results.   


Jobsite Tours:

This Ohio weather is starting to break soon!  If you or someone at your company is interested in presenting or giving a jobsite tour to any of our student chapters, please send us an email!  

SEAoO has student chapters at: 

  • University of Cincinnati
  • Ohio State University
  • University of Toledo
  • Ohio University
  • University of Akron
  • University of Dayton
Thank you,
Bernie Kooi, PE, SE, LEED AP
SEAoO Basic Education Committee Chair
Back to top

SEAoO Young Members Committee

Calling all SEAoO Young Professionals in Cincinnati, we are excited to announce we will be having a social to kick-off our group in April.

We will be discussing the goals of the group and go over plans for future meetings. If you would like to meet other young professionals in Cincinnati and provide input for future events, make sure to join us for the social!

Please be on the lookout for an email with more details to follow.  

We are also looking to grow this group in other regions, so if you would like to get involved please email Phil Niekamp at 


Back to top

SEAoO Programs Committee

I want to sincerely thank everyone that participated and responded to the Voice of the Member Survey. Our regional leadership received valuable feedback regarding topics, venues, and meeting times. This data will allow our leadership to tailor events specifically for the regional membership, so that we can better serve you.

Our spring session is quickly winding down, so take advantage of the meetings offered in April and May! Most regions will be breaking for the summer months, and using that time to plan and prepare for the fall session. Additionally, if you attended last year's conference and have not utilized your meeting voucher, consider cashing it in this month or next as it expires in June.

Finally, our next committee meeting will be May 1, 2018 via conference call. If you are interested in offering feedback or taking a more active role in your local section, please let us know - we are always open to new ideas and new faces!

Thank you,
Antonio D. Verne P.E.
SEAoO Continuing Education Committee Chair
Back to top

SEAoO Licensure Committee

Barriers to Practice

Becoming an engineer requires one to overcome several hurdles.  Like most professions, engineering has barriers to entry: minimum education requirements, testing, licensing, et cetera.  The barriers serve multiple functions, not the least of which is to provide assurance that practitioners have demonstrated some minimum qualification.  One can debate the efficacy of the engineering licensure methods, but that is not the focus of this discussion.  This article seeks to consider one particular barrier, a recurring barrier for practicing engineers: the governing laws.  Specifically, the article examines one aspect of the professions’ guiding laws and rules - codes.

One can correctly note that the Ohio Revised Code (ORC) and the Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) are available to all interested parties online.  One need not even have internet access; most public libraries provide terminals with free internet access.  Access to the ORC and OAC represent only a portion of the legal guidelines governing engineering’s practice.  Since the ORC and OAC endow nongovernmental documents with the weight of law, the volume of information applicable to engineering practice is significantly larger than the state’s regulations and rules.  

Consider the Ohio Building Code (OBC).  As it is derived from the 2015 International Building Code (IBC-15), it includes by reference numerous nongovernmental standards.  Therefore dozens of privately-produced documents such as ASCE 7-10 Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures or ACI 318-14 Building Code Requirements for Structural Concrete essentially have the effect of being law.

This represents the crux of a conundrum, individuals in the United States are bound by the governing laws regardless of whether the individual has knowledge of the law or not.  Informally, this is stated as: “Ignorance of the law is no excuse.”  Accordingly, most laws are readily accessible by the public; the basic principle being that there should be no “secret laws.”  As with all professions, structural engineers are obliged to comply with the laws governing their practice, including any applicable private standards such as those noted above1.  Further, these privately-produced standards often reference other private standards such as those produced by ASTM International, American National Standards Institute (ANSI), or the American Welding Society (AWS).

Practicing with knowledge of one’s applicable legal requirements places a notable financial burden on engineers.  Building a personal or company library for the governing documents can easily cost several thousands of dollars2. Further, this is a recurring burden, since the legislative process occasionally revises governing codes, new and/or updated standards are required to maintain knowledge of the profession’s governing provisions.  As these documents essentially detail legal requirements of practice, they are in a different class than other notable expenses commonly considered, such as software which might be optional depending on how the individual’s practice is administered.

This is not an argument for free access to all the applicable standards3.  Agencies and societies undertake considerable efforts and expenditures to create these documents.  Without the financial compensation for their work products, the standards agencies would face significant impairments to further research and advancements aimed at improving public well being could stagnate.  This article intends to raise awareness that the practice of structural engineering not only includes some obvious hurdles such as education, testing, and registration, but also some partially obscured obstacles.  Without offering any prescriptive actions or even suggesting answers, these questions are posed for your consideration and feedback:

  • How do barriers to practice affect who enters the profession?

  • Do barriers have any secondary adverse effects such as unintentionally limiting access by a certain group or class with the potential to contribute to the profession?

  • Does the current framework of laws, rules, and standards inadvertently favor any particular business models or forms of practice - is the “playing field level”?

  • What effects do variations within a state’s jurisdictions have on this discussion?

  • What effects do variations in laws from state to state have on this discussion?

  • What questions do you see arising from this analysis?

Please share your thoughts regarding this topic and the questions raised.  We also welcome your input on any other topic related to engineering licensure.   Please contact us if you would like to contribute to this column.

Timothy M. Gilbert, P.E., S.E., SECB
SEAoO Licensure Committee


1 For a full list of the standards included by reference, see Ohio Building Code Chapter 35.
2 A single site access to ASTM standards listed in the building code currently costs $5,399 (link)
3 Visit for a perspective on free access to governing documents.
Back to top

Nuts, Bolts & Washers

FIU Bridge Collapse

The recent pedestrian bridge collapse in Florida has many rightfully asking how such a tragedy could happen and what caused the collapse.  Some have offered suggestions or asserted insight into a cause for the collapse.

SEAoO offers heartfelt sympathy for those affected and encourages all to be patient in this time of turmoil and mourning for those involved.

The NTSB investigation will likely take weeks or possibly months to undertake a proper examination and analysis of the evidence. A March 21 press release outlines some of the work done to that date and notes a preliminary report is likely within a few weeks.

SEAoO asks members to please refrain from drawing conclusions regarding a cause or advocating forms of remediation.

Equity in the Profession

I encourage all newsletter readers to take the SE3 survey linked in this newsletter (link).  The survey organizers are seeking to improve professional engagement and equity.

I believe many of our readers have noted how our profession’s demographics vary from that of the general population.  While there will always be some variance between a statistical sample and a general population, I believe that more factors than random variance are behind the differences.   The survey will help provide data to better understand reasons underlying these impressions.  Hopefully it can help lead to a stronger, more diverse structural engineering community. 

Carrots & Disinformation

Many of us have heard the adage that carrots can improve your eyesight, particularly night vision.  I recall as a young child my grandmother sharing this insight at the dinner table. And while vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet, including eye health, the old adage isn’t true.  It is an intentional bit of disinformation created during World War II.

During the war, the Royal Air Force had started using an new, secret radar technology.  It allowed the British to intercept a significant portion of the Nazi attackers, who often did so under cover of night.  To draw any enemy speculation away from the secret technology, the British promoted the idea that a diet rich in carrots led to significantly improved night vision for the RAF.  This explanation “grew legs” and is still running today.

Read more at Smithsonian.

Thanks again

Tim Gilbert
SEAoO Secretary


Back to top