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

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My only comment would be careful with the indiscriminate use of SEA.
Even though your experience is only with SEAOC (and its siblings such
as SEAOSC), you seem to lump all SEAs together.  I would stipulate that
not all SEAs operate the same as SEAOC (or SEAOSC).  I have no experience
dealing with SEAOC or SEAOSC, so I can't really comment on them.  I don't
even have experience with SEAoT.  I can only really speak to my experience
with SEAMi.  However, based upon my experience with SEAMi, I can tell you
that not all SEAs would fit the description that you give.

I think the advice that you gave about fully evaluating an organization
and seeing if it fits your individual goals and needs is right on point.
I just thought that it would be unfair cast SEAoT in the same light that
you view SEAOC/SEAOSC.  It could be that SEAoT might be the perfect
society for you (other than being way too far away from you phyically


On Tue, 23 Jan 2001, Structuralist wrote:

> 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
>, 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)]
> Sent: Tuesday, January 23, 2001 8:26 AM
> To: seaint(--nospam--at)
> 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