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

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I don't think I was indicating any more than the unification of all SEA
state chapters through one national organization - NCSEA. SEAOC is the state
representation of the four local chapters and as such, it is the
representative branch that has joined other state chapters in the creation
of the NCSEA.

It seems only logical to me that there is a movement with the intent to
unify all SEA chapter under one roof. I don't see how this would be possible
without a commonality of rules, regulations and ultimately a sharing of
resources. Just in the last couple of months, the discussions have focused
both here and in the articles in Structural Engineer Magazine about a
concerted effort to standardize testing and state licensing requirements,
the individual regional codes will be replaced by the IBC. Certainly, the
state chapters strongest in code creation are taking the lead - SEAOC, from
my perspective, has a strong interest in leading the way.

I don't see the advantage of a national representation of SEA with
conflicting structure, rules and bylaws. NCSEA (and maybe Scott Melnick who
may be scanning this list can answer some of this as editor of the NCSEA
Journal) is only a few years old and is evolving into a strong political
presence representing the structural engineering community. I don't think I
would ignore the direction or implication of its growth.

Please don't misunderstand, I am not suggesting that this is a bad thing,
only that it may ultimately remove the independence of each state chapter to
bring about change in the global unification of codes and practices. The
most important issue, that I attempted to address in my last post, is that
there has been a historic struggle of representation philosophy within the
California chapters. Is the primary responsibility of SEA to represent or
lead the membership. Leading suggests the creation of rules, regulations,
educational requirements, codes and practice by a willing participants
rather, i.e., board members and committees. Conversely, is it the
responsibility of the organization to be receptive to the needs of
practicing professionals first? Southern California has historically
followed the later standard of practice while the other three chapters in
the state have chosen to dictate the practices of engineering. It's no
surprise to those on the list that I am a strong advocate of representing
the members first.

These should be important concerns of SEA members. As a practicing
professional, I want to feel in control of my profession. I want to believe
that if there is sufficient professional agreement within the membership to
suggest dissatisfaction with work of a committee that the committee should
be obligated to defend their position or yield to the needs of the
community. Unfortunately, this has not been the case and as such has led to
my resignation. To give you an example, consider the work done by Gary
Searer, PE on the problems associated with the use of Rho (the redundancy
factor) in the code. Gary did a significant amount of work to prove his
point. I believe that the majority of engineers who reviewed the documents
would agree that Searer presents a valid and serious problem with the
methodology. In my opinion, the SEAOC Seismology Committee should have
intervened and changed their position to reflect the work done by Searer.
The position was decided to ignore the issue because it yields conservative
results and creates too many problems to change because of time constraints
on new code issues and the end of the UBC cycle. In the end, the financial
burden for this mistake is placed on every new home designed under the
full-compliance provisions of the code. To be fair, there are proponents of
Rho as a factor as a means to prevent engineers from underdesigning
structures. My argument is that I am a qualified practitioner and the
decision as to what level of compliance is to be designed is best left to my
judgment rather than forced upon me. This is an example of being led rather
being represented.

While the chapters of SEA are still virtually independent, I would not
neglect the movement to unify them into one organization and to adjust the
bylaws and practices to be unified as well. At the very least, keep your
attention on these issues and respond before the snowball has gained more
momentum than is available to reverse the path.

Sorry to be so verbose, but I believe these are important issues and with to
emphasize that I am a supporter of an SEA that represents its members.

Dennis S. Wish, PE

-----Original Message-----
From: Scott Maxwell [mailto:smaxwell(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Wednesday, January 24, 2001 3:45 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: RE: QUERY: What Are The Practical Benefits of Joining An


I will just add one more thought...actually more of a correction.  The
various state SEAs are NOT chapters of NCSEA.  While I am not sure how
SEAOSC, SEAONC, etc relate to SEAOC (I believe that they are the regional
or local chapters of SEAOC), I do know that the state SEAs are completely
independent organizations.  For example, SEAMi has no direct relation to
SEAOC other that by mutual cooperation, etc.  SEAMi is not a chapter of
NCSEA.  NCSEA is an organization of organizations.  I don't believe that
an individual can become a member of NCSEA.  The members of NCSEA are
actually the individual state SEA organizations.  NCSEA essentially
derives its "power" from the state SEAs.

So the end result is that the various SEAs like SEAMi, SEAW, SEAoT,
etc all have their own "rules of engagement" (i.e. constitution,
by-laws, power structure, politics, etc) and operate independently.
Those organizations just made the choice to come together in a joint
effort to provide a more unified and coordinated national presence,
which we call NCSEA.

Just thought that I would add that clarification.


On Wed, 24 Jan 2001, Structuralist wrote:

> Scott,
> I actually thought of joining another SEA chapter as I believed that they
> are independent. I decided against joining another chapter until I am able
> to see how the unification of SEA chapters in the NCSEA affects the
> organization as a whole.
> I do agree that chapters which are not as politically active in the
> of code for the IBC will have less political ambitions and may focus more
> the needs of their local members.
> With that said, I still believe that SEA is not the only professional
> organization in need of members to help further their research and
> development of professional and industry standards. If you only have one
> check to offer, why would you feel any less a member of the profession by
> joining CSES, NSPE, ASCE or any of the other organizations.
> Interestingly enough, my dissatisfaction with SEA of California is much
> with the local chapter than with the unified state chapter. While Southern
> California has historically adopted the philosophy that the organization
> should represent the members, the other chapters (San Diego, Central
> California and Northern California) have been unanimously opposed to
> Southern Chapter and have adopted the believe that SEA should "lead" the
> members. Therefore, in this case the unification of a state organization
> overpowered the basic ideology of one chapter with the largest number of
> individual members. I am hoping that the same situation does not occur in
> the national unification of NCSEA.
> What may come as a shock is that I truly admire those who praise SEA as
> these are the active members who physically participate and have made
> contributions to the profession. In fact, if you understand the reason for
> my criticism of SEAOC, it become evident that I struggle so hard with it
> because it reflects my admiration of the profession and frustration as to
> the expedience of the organizations potential. The problem is that there
> a resistant to change that originates not with the virtual community but
> with the physical community - especially if it means any potential for
> unproductive time to learn new skills. We can go on and on about this
> and it is best left to the archives, but until there is a realization of
> productivity gains that can be achieved by use of virtual tools we will
> begin to fall further and further behind our potential and will go broke
> the process.
> Dennis S. Wish, PE
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Scott Maxwell [mailto:smaxwell(--nospam--at)]
> Sent: Tuesday, January 23, 2001 8:29 PM
> To: seaint(--nospam--at)
> Subject: RE: QUERY: What Are The Practical Benefits of Joining An
> "S.E.A.xx."?
> Dennis,
> 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
> <grin>).
> Scott