January 2019  

President's Message

Happy New Year! I am honored to serve as this year’s President of the Structural Engineers Association of Ohio (SEAoO). 

As we welcome 2019 and embark on goals and New Year’s resolutions, I hope to increase engagement within our organization by:

  1. Growing our Cincinnati Young Members Group and exploring expansion to other regions.
  2. Encouraging members to join a SEAoO committee.
  3. Converting graduating student members into associate members.
  4. Continuing to provide cost-effective PDHs and networking opportunities at the annual conference and regional meetings.

We could not achieve these goals without the support of a dedicated Board of Directors and Committee Chairs/Members.  I’m thrilled to welcome John Morganstern, Past President of the University of Toledo Student Chapter, and Aimee Pergalsky, Annual Conference Committee Member, to the Board of Directors.  Gretchen Bryc, one of the founding SEAoO officers, will rejoin the Board as Treasurer.  Antonio Verne’s dedication during his Presidential tenure was invaluable and he will now serve as Past President.  As you can tell, I’m excited to continue growing our organization before passing the torch to Matt Inkrott, President Elect, in 2020.

Special thanks to Kip Ping and Frank Monastra as they roll off the Board of Directors.  As one of the founding SEAoO officers, Kip filled many roles, including Secretary, President, Past-President, and most recently Treasurer.  Frank served as a Director, Secretary, President, and Past-President.  We hope that Kip and Frank will stay active in the Cincinnati and Dayton regions, respectively.

Finally, “thank you” to our members for allowing my team to serve you.  Remember that this is your organization, so please contact myself or any of the Board of Directors, if we can assist you.

Cheers to a happy and healthy 2019,
Mindy Barber, P.E.
Back to top

Past President's message

It has been a privilege and pleasure to serve as your president in 2018. Our organization and members continue to impress me each day.  We saw each of our 6 student chapters host a mentoring night.  We saw our Young Members group not only take root in the Cincinnati area, but also receive a $500 NCSEA grant to solidify its growth.  We saw our membership reach new heights at virtually every level.  It should not come as a surprise that Ohio is making a name for itself at the national level.  We are all part of a truly special organization, and I cannot thank everyone enough for their continued support and involvement.

I am excited to see what 2019 has in store for us, and I could not think of anyone more equipped to lead us into this year than Mindy Barber.  She is a highly motivated, passionate individual that will be an advocate for all us in the coming year.

Thank you and Happy New Year,

Antonio Verne, P.E.
SEAoO Past President
Back to top

SEAoO Membership Committee

Membership renewal for all levels is still open.  Dues remain the same and have not increased for several years.  Note that if your membership does lapse, you must then rejoin as a new Member ($50 vs. $40 renewal), so if you haven't done so already, please renew as soon as possible.

Did you become a PE since your last renewal?  If so, you can qualify to be a Professional Member with full voting rights.  Email us at [email protected] to change your member category.

Also, as a reminder, SEAoO has established an Associate Member level that applies to those who have obtained a bachelor’s degree in a field related to structural engineering and are within 4 years of graduation. The first calendar year of Associate Membership is free with renewals at half the regular dues rate.

Back to top

Industry News and Notes

RISA-3D Training in Columbus on March 12-13

RISA will present this training that "focuses on using RISA-3D to effectively build models that produce useful results.  By working through real world examples, we highlight some of RISA-3D's most helpful features that save time and increase productivity."

Courses include Basic and Advanced Structural Modeling, and class size is limited to 20 seats.

Cost: $1,200 per attendee, includes breakfast and lunch both days

More info here:  RISA course description and info

Wood design course at Virginia Tech in May

Dr. Frank Woeste (who has spoken at SEAoO Conferences in the past) will lead a 2-day wood design course in May at the Virginia Tech campus.  "This course is designed for individuals who are involved in the design, construction, and inspection of wood buildings.  The primary focus and objective of this course are a mastery of wood design basics and understanding of the many factors routinely used and required by the 2018 National Design Specification® (NDS®) for Wood Construction."

More info on their website here: 

Back to top

SEAoO Licensure Committee

Earnest Ethics and Obligations - Part II

In recognition of Ohio’s requirement for ethics content as part of professional development, this month continues the fictional situation faced by Earnest and Pat in the November column. Again, we are seeking your perspectives; please reply with your thoughts on these hypothetical situations.

When Unknown Past Errors are Uncovered

As owner and president of a small engineering consulting firm, Pat President recognizes the value of continuing education.  Pat also understands that as engineer’s knowledge base grows, the standard of care due from professionals also changes.  Understandably, Pat’s firm subsidizes employee continuing education and seeks to update company standards based on new developments.  

Pat is informed that by attending a seminar, Earnest, an engineer at the firm, has learned a more effective calculation method.  Unfortunately this knowledge also enlightens Earnest of past, potentially serious errors.  And Earnest shares findings of a preliminary investigation regarding the error: most past projects are unaffected, but at least one has a significant deficiency.  

Upon learning some details, Pat is relieved by the understanding that none of the expected signs of distress from the error have been reported.  But the relief is not complete, this is a project undertaken during difficult times for the firm which might affect the approach going forward.

Question 1:  Does Pat have an ethical obligation to immediately inform the building owner of the newly discovered design deficiency?

During the economic challenges of the late 2000s, like many company owners, Pat was faced with some tough decisions.  One particularly difficult decision involved the firm’s financial position. The company revenue stream was at an all time low, and its liquid resources were nearly exhausted.  Yet expenses continued to accrue.  Pat knew that the firm’s value and its potential was a function of its staffing.  Reducing staff would limit future potential and have significantly negative effects on any laid-off employee.  Pat chose to continue paying staff and drop some otherwise “necessary” expenses until the financial situation improved.  One such expense was insurance for errors and omissions.

Question 2:  If Pat must choose between staff reduction and continuing payment of liability insurance, what is the ethical choice?

When Earnest informs Pat of the design deficiency, Pat is concerned by more than the error.  Included is a recollection this project was delivered during the time when the firm had failed to make several insurance payments.  Further, Pat understands that the project owner has a reputation for initiating litigation.  So Pat is not only concerned with the possible future effects of the error to the public, but also the possible ramifications to the firm employees of notifying a litigious owner.  Pat suggests Earnest focus on the current work before reviewing more past projects and says he will be updated once a decision is made.

Question 3: What should Pat do?

Pat contacts the insurance representative and is informed that the project is not covered.  Next, Pat arranges to meet with legal counsel to better understand legal aspects of the firm’s options.  Several days later, Pat leaves the meeting under the impression that disclosure of the error is likely the best recourse, but is unsure of how quickly this should be done.  Pat engages legal counsel to provide advice with the goal of providing disclosure while attempting to minimize the potential consequences to the firm and employees.

Question 4: Was there an alternate option Pat should have taken?

Question 5: What effects would any alternate option have on the firm and employees?

Developing a plan takes more time than Pat anticipated and the risks seem significant.  In what might seem like adding gasoline to a fire, Earnest shares his discovery of more errors.  Pat is understandably distressed and, seeking some degree of partial relief, requests Earnest to keep the information confidential until further notice.

Pat arranges a meeting with the building owner for the project Earnest first noted and divulges the sequence leading to this point.  Further Pat offers to perform the engineering for modifications to bring the building up to code standards free of charge.  The owner, clearly disturbed, concludes the meeting by notifying Pat he will seek legal redress to ensure he has a building in accordance with the contract specifications.

On the drive back to the office, with the future of the firm and employees uncertain, Pat decides to disclose all of Earnest’s findings to both the relevant clients and the proper code officials - fully aware that it can mean financial ruin.

Question 6: How would you react if you were in the role of Earnest or Pat?


While the situation in these two articles is hypothetical, the concerns raised represent dilemmas that can arise in the disclosure of errors.  These can be related to much more than the technical aspects of design and influence many people beyond those involved in the project delivery.

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.

Thank you.

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

Nuts, Bolts & Washers

All content in this section of the newsletter reflects statements and opinons of the author and do not necessarily reflect any opinions sanctioned by the SEAoO Board of Directors. 


In this year's review of some notable books, I will focus on the five I found most significant:

  • The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein in an insightful and logical examination of the lingering effects of past government policy on the racial economic circumstances in the U.S.
  • Ship Ablaze by Edward O’Donnell documents the tragic loss of over 1,000 in a fire due to a confluence of poor judgment, deficient regulation, and lackluster enforcement.
  • The Big Ones by Lucy Jones is a great examination of how past natural disasters have influenced society, from Pompeii to the Indian Ocean Tsunami.
  • Bad Blood by John Carreyou documents the Theranos scandal, from inception to collapse.  It’s a story of how a promising ideal went terribly wrong.
  • A Higher Call by Adam Makos and Larry Alexander is the incredible true story of how an American bomber pilot and a German fighter ace crossed paths during World War II.

Please share your recommendations or send me a note & I'll share my reading list. 

Thanks again

Tim Gilbert

SEAoO Secretary

[email protected]

Back to top