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Re: What a disaster!

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You are ignoring the other 50% of the SEAOC membership - CE's who practice
Structural Engineering.  Our complaints with Architects extend to Civils
that have no experience in Structures who we affectionatly refer to as
Civil-Civils. The rest of us activly practicing Structural Engineering have
been refered to as Civil-Structurals.
I recommend that you go back over the archives on the SEAOC web site for the
last three years and spend the time to review our "threads" on the issue of
CE verses SE and Architects Vs. Engineers and more. We have attempted to
transfer this information to BORPEL's without luck and to SEAOC without them
hearing us. If I am correct, you are a past president of SEAOSC (within the
last three to five years). If this is the case, why were our discussions not
discussed over board meetings to address the problems that exist within our
own community as well as between professions?
The fact remains that many of us who are CE's are registered with OES (I was
prior to Northridge but not activated for some reason). I would venture to
say that you may be lumping all CE-Structurals into one catagory. If so, you
miss the essence of this discussion.
The main reason why we have debated this issue is that many incompetent
engineers and architects responded to the needs of the public after
Northridge (and I venture to guess Loma Prieta and others). This included
SE's who worked for large companies that did very little if anything with
residential wood frameing. These engineers lacked the understanding of wood
and had difficulty assessing a structures extent of damage by not having
developed a feel for the materials. (Possibly these are the SE's who felt
cheated that their abilities were not used). For those of you who are
offended by my comments, please don't be, I have tutored a few SE's in wood
design. There is no shame here to identify your weakness. For the same
token, I would not feel comfortable accessing problems with steel and
concrete framed buildings.
More to the point: A financial market was created that opened the door to
our "bottom feeders" and unscrupulus non-structural professionals to step
over their bounds of experience simply because their license allows them to
do so. This may have created a greater potential for harm to the public or
may have attacked their pocketbooks by over-designers. Mind you, proper
engineering skills and the competent understanding of engineering basics are
what is in question, not whether a repair or retrofit design is over or
under designed when the choice is subjectivly based upon the EOR's
judgement. The professionals I am attacking are those who spend their time
doing geotechnical, surveying, grading plans etc, but who never design
buildings or foundations. These professionals (and I use the term lightly)
swarmed over the private sector and insurance adjusters looking for
profitable work. We can debate profit motivation, but when it comes to
charging for services and receiving a report or retro design that is so far
offbase it eithers breaks the homeowner or the insurance company is not
professional. Those of us with structural engineering abilities are more
than simple purveyors of calculations. We need to understand the ecconomics
of design and be creative in our work. This is not the case for the bottom
feeder who goes out to rape the tree of it's fruit.

If you see us attacking our own profession, please understand that although
the majority of those on this list who are SE's would love for me to join
the fraternaty, they are still willing to accept my understanding of
structural engineering from my experience with SEA and this list. What about
all the others whose abilities are not known by the community, who don't
participate in SEA, CELSOC or any of the other professional organizations
that help the public differentiate between a CE(land) and a CE(structural)?
Who protects the public when the title is too general (Civil Engineer). The
latest changes suggested by Borpels simply help the profession police
themselves, but do nothing to alert and educate the public of the
differences and why a CE is not a CE is not an SE is not an Architect and so
forth and so on. Structurally speaking, there is a discontinuity occuring in
our own profession.

Rick, the problem is that Architects (and non-structurals) should not be
used for judgement calls simply because some SE refuses to evaluate
residential or complains about not be used to the best of his ability. The
fact is that residential structural design falls under the SE's title as
part of his knowledge more so that an Architect. Ego and Superiority have no
place in emergency response when your goal is to help the public whether
they be a single family or a building full of employees.

I understand your frustration with the problem. Possibly you can understand
ours. You have more power within SEA than the combined lot of us and can
open many eyes to our collective needs. Again, I highly recommend that you
review past threads to come up to speed with the concensus of Listservice
members. When you do, I would be honored to have you raise the issues and
offer some constructive means to getting the needs of the community through
the thick skulls of board members (Borpels and SEA).

Dennis Wish PE

-----Original Message-----
From: Richard_Ranous/OES(--nospam--at) <Richard_Ranous/OES(--nospam--at)>
To: seaoc(--nospam--at) <seaoc(--nospam--at)>
Date: Friday, January 23, 1998 11:55 AM
Subject: What a disaster!

>I orginally posed a very possible scenario to something that WILL happen in
>California.  I got some very good suggestions on an approach to solving the
>problem and will be pursuing those suggestions.  Suddenly, the discussions
>have moved to the value of architects and some of you have taken quite a
>firm stand.
>I guess you have given me the opportunity to get on my soap box and relay
>the problems I have had with structural engineers (and I have been one for
>a good number of years).  I came to OES after 16 years of structural
>engineering with various consultants including two offices of my own.  My
>major responsiblility was and is to organize the "design community" to be
>able to assist local government when disaster strikes and they need safety
>evaluations of buildings.
>Ever since Loma Prieta I have been conducting after action meetings with
>the responding personnel to hear from them what worked and what did not.
>Without exception the responding structural engineers have complained that
>they were used improperly by the requesting cities.  Their complaints were
>centered on evaluating the safety of houses, mobile homes, and minor
>structurces.  This was a waste of their expertiese.  There request was that
>OES had to do something to make sure that they were used "properly."
>In 1991 we opened discuscions with AIA about joining our safety assessment
>program.  As a part of those discussions we looked at areas where they
>could most effectively be used.  The architects were happy to do
>evaluations of houses and apartments.  They were willing to do whatever was
>asked of them.  They simply wanted to be involved and help.
>As a State representative I have no control over how individuals are
>assigned to perform evaluations.  Until you have been in a building
>officials shoes in organizing and performing a safety assessment response
>you can not talk about how right or wrong their actions where.
>Now, some of you are telling us that architects have no business being
>involved in safety evaluations at all.  Okay, answer this question for me:
>If SEs don't want to do homes, mobile homes, and small structures; and they
>do not want architects to be involved in safety evaluations how do I get
>the resources necessary to get people back into their homes and businesses
>in a timely fashion?  Let's look at Northridge:  113000 structures were
>evaluated!  86% of those structures were residential?  Under this
>discussion who should have evaluated them?