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RE: QUERY: What Are The Practical Benefits of Joining An "S.E.A.xx."?

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Bill,
I started to write you my comments and I read Nel's response. Nel's has been
one of the many valuable, active participants in both SEA Committee's as
well as our Listservices and discussions. In particular, Nels has been a
mentor to me on important issues such as his extensive work in seismic
retrofit (Unreinforced masonry, wood cripple walls, adobe, tilt-up concrete
et.al), a fellow committee members and, most important to me - a long time,
very close friend. If this does tarnish his reputation, nothing will:o)

While I agree with Nel's that committee participation is important - it is
also one of the few ways, after college, that an engineer can become
thoroughly immersed in the technical side of code methodologies - membership
in SEA is not a required. Nels may recall that many of the members of the
original Hazardous Building committee were not SEA members but
representatives of supportive industries (Simpson, Hili etc.) and employees
of various building departments. I don't recall SEA turning down any
professional willing to physically participate in a committee.

Bill, you mentioned my participation in SEAINT but I would like to make some
points very clear. In 2003 I would have been a member of SEAOC for 20-years.
I decided last July not to renew my membership for a number of reasons.

The archives are filled with rants and raves about the problems within the
SEA structure. As I mentioned a few paragraphs earlier, if you are willing
to physically participate in committee work, you will find, for the most
part, exceptionally receptive and friendly peers to work with. On the other
hand, if you are on the outside with no means to physically participate
(some of us live too far from the committee chamber or have employers who
will not allow the loss of time) there is no practical way at this time to
participate. Furthermore, archives will support the argument that there is
an unwillingness within the physical structure to learn a new technology and
apply it to committee work so as to reduce spending and improve
productivity. There is also a limit as to how willing committee members are
to share their work in open discussions and to accept and evaluate
constructive criticism with the purpose of correcting mistakes and seeking
more practical solutions.

I had great expectation for the SEAINT List - beyond the peer-2-peer help
that has been successful. I firmly believe today that the we have failed to
accomplish some of the most crucial and important goals - the ability to
create a working infrastructure that would extend the size and volunteer
force within the SEA committee structure. Our experience so far has been
that policy makers and committee chairs, while aware of the Listservice
discussions, are unwilling to participate except on superficial levels. This
retards the growth of the Internet services but more important, retards the
constructive growth of the professional community.

The bottom line is that many of the men and women who are in policy making
positions within SEA, for whatever reasons, are no longer accountable to the
dues paying membership. It is sad to think that with the technology we
possess that we can be so isolated from those individuals who are in policy
making positions so that the only power we have is the signature on the
checks we write when we join or renew our membership.

Before I am flamed for making such criticism on a Listservice created and
operated by SEAOSC, let me set the record straight.
1. The services were created by volunteers - individual practicing
professionals. More specifically, the List and Web services were the ideas
of two individuals - Shafat Qazi and I. The works were set in motion by the
few who participated on the Computer Applications Committee and with the
backing of the board members in place at the time.
2. It's counterproductive to give a gift and constantly remind the
recipients where the gift came from. This Listservice was never intended to
be the political Internet arm of SEAOC. It was intended from the start, to
be freely used by the professional community world wide.
3. The name was changed at my suggestion to James Lai some years ago and
while I wanted credit for the creation to remain with SEA, I believed
strongly that we should be disassociating the Internet services from SEA so
as to promote a neutral arena where other organizations could come to work
through important issues.

You will serve a greater purpose by maintaining your participation in the
Internet professional community. You should participate in SEA committees
only if this is your interest and inclination. There is no question to those
of us who know you as to your abilities or your professional ethics. In time
this will become a networking tool that will help establish your practice -
something that I don't believe a membership in any organization can insure.
Your business will grow best by networking within your community where you
work. If you wish to volunteer time, and you live in a small town such as
mine, you can extend your services non-gratis, within the community or
within a city position such as the planning commission, working with
students in Habitat type programs etc.

Spend your donation wisely. There are other organizations who are developing
standards for materials that rely heavily upon the donations and help of
volunteers. These groups are willing to explore the use of technology to be
productive and to help reduce unnecessary spending. LGSEA (Light Gauge Steel
Engineers Association) and WTCA (Wood Truss Council of America) are two
organizations that come to mind which are still young enough to appreciate
the contribution you can make to their work.

There is a group in Los Angeles that is called the CSES or Consulting
Structural Engineers Society (sorry if I got this wrong but I have trouble
with acronyms). CSES has chapters in other areas, I'm sure, and focus more
on the private practice / business side of structural engineering than SEA.
This type of organization may benefit you more than joining SEAoT will.

Be choosy. Look at how your dues will be spent. Investigate how responsive
the group is to members and don't donate for discounts or equivalent value
in savings as the reason to join. Speak with the active members and get a
feel for the professional politics. Then decide.

When I feel that SEAOC has become more responsive to the needs of the small
office / home office professional consultant, I may decide to join again.
Until then, I have to stick to principle and vote my convictions with my
pocketbook.

Regards,
Dennis S. Wish, PE



-----Original Message-----
From: Nels Roselund [mailto:n.roselund(--nospam--at)worldnet.att.net]
Sent: Tuesday, January 23, 2001 8:26 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
Subject: Re: QUERY: What Are The Practical Benefits of Joining An
"S.E.A.xx."?


Bill,

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
work.

Nels Roselund
Structural Engineer