The greatest benefit that I have gained from SEA membership has been
participation in committee work. You don't get continuing education credit
for it, but I've found it much more beneficial than attending seminars.
Choose a committee that is working on matters closest to your area of
structural interest or niche. You get to work with structural engineers who
are among the best in your field, and find out what they know and how they
think; you work on and become familiar with cutting edge information in your
area of interest well ahead of your peers, and there's a lot of satisfaction
in making a contribution to the practice of your profession.
Spend the first year just attending meetings and listening while you learn
what's going on. Take on a subcommittee task if asked, but kind of lie low
for the first year or so. That will also let you gage the importance of
what the committee is doing -- if you find you value it, you'll figure out
how to fit heavier participation it into your busy schedule.
One of my associates said, "Why should I work with my competitors?" I think
he's missing the point by a mile.
I've had to drop out of committee work the past few years because of an
important family commitment, and I really miss not being involved in the new