April 2020 – Region 9 Reports

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San Francisco Section Structural Engineering Institute Update – Bridging Bay Area’s Structural Engineers

by Vladimir Calugaru, PhD, PE Chair, Structural Engineering Institute of ASCE, San Francisco Section


Structural engineering is among the most underappreciated and underpaid professions. It is difficult to think of a place where that statement is truer than in the San Francisco Bay Area. While everyone knows the name of the criminal Al Capone who spent a few years enjoying views of the Bay from Alcatraz, few can name the structural engineers behind the Golden Gate Bridge or those dedicating their lives to developing modern seismic design guidelines that help save millions of lives worldwide. And where else can a recent grad with a computer science degree expect to earn nearly twice as much as a senior principal at a leading structural engineering firm. This is where the Structural Engineering Institute of ASCE, San Francisco Section (SEI SF) comes in. We understand the challenges that today’s structural engineers face and make it our goal to help advance the careers of our individual members, as well as to help earn broader recognition of the structural engineering profession.

This has been the most exciting year for our organization. The Structural Engineering Institute of ASCE, San Francisco Chapter (SEI-SF) has grown to more than 1,600 members and has built up substantial momentum. We have hosted and co-hosted a number of important technical events, as well as social and public outreach events, and approved an ambitious long-term budget aimed at supporting and strengthening the Bay Area’s structural engineering community – all in line with our vision and mission.

The 5OBC (5th International Orthotropic Bridge Conference), the symposium on resilience held on the exact 30th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake, and the mini-series on the design and construction of the Chase Center, the new home of the Golden Gate Warriors, have been our recent bright highlights. These events took a strong team effort to organize resulting in great success. The 5OBC brought together the world’s leading experts in the design, operation, and maintenance of orthotropic bridges. The symposium on resilience featured a panel of prominent speakers representing the Bay Area’s major infrastructure and transportation companies, as well as building departments. The technical presentations on the Chase Center provided insight into the geotechnical, structural, and construction aspects of constructing a world-class stadium on poor soils in a high seismic region. The wide range of topics covered by these events underlines the defining characteristic of SEI SF – supporting the Bay Area’s structural engineers working in all areas of the profession, not limited to building design (a common misconception and the primary focus of other local organizations).

One new initiative for 2020 that I am most pleased to announce is the SEI of ASCE San Francisco Chapter Scholarship. The annual scholarship will be awarded based on academic and professional merit to undergraduate and graduate students studying structural engineering in the Bay Area and the broader Northern California region covered by the San Francisco Section. Our Board has voted to increase the total scholarship awarded each year to make an ever-larger contribution to the local structural engineering community.

It is for events and initiatives like these that SEI SF has been selected to receive the 2019 SEI Chapter of the Year Award in recognition of its exemplary activities and efforts to advance the structural engineering profession. We truly appreciate this recognition and feel motivated to keep improving.

For more information about SEI of ASCE, San Francisco Section, please visit www.seisf.org or contact Vladimir Calugaru, PhD, PE, Chair of the SEI of ASCE, San Francisco Section, at vcalugaru@infraterra.com.


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