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

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Dennis,

I understand your point and will certainly keep my eyes open for potential
problems.

But just to make sure that you understand the structure of the
relationship between NCSEA and the SEAs, I will re-iterate it.  SEAOC,
SEAMi, SEAW, SEAoT, etc are NOT chapters of NCSEA.  The state
organizations (SEAs) do NOT derive their "power" and existance from NCSEA.
It is the other way around.  The state SEAs are a member of NCSEA and as a
result each has one official vote on NCSEA "offical" matters.  Each of the
state SEAs pays dues to NCSEA to get that vote.  If a state SEA does not
like the direction that NCSEA is going then the SEA can resign as a member
(just as you resigned from SEAOC).

You are correct to point out that NCSEA is at the middle of the "unified"
code process as well as efforts to nationalize licensure/certification (I
am actually on the NCSEA certification committee, which is just getting
started) and other "national" issues.

I can attest that not all the SEA organizations are indifferent to the
members.  For example, SEAMi actually would love more members like you who
are willing to participate (either live and in person or virtually by way
of the internet or conference calls, etc).  Our biggest struggle is to get
people off their a$$ and get involved.  But that is because we are rather
young, especially when compared to an SEA like SEAOC.  As a committee
chair within SEAMi, I am definitely open to the idea of virtual sessions
by internet or phone.  However, it is not an issue right now since there
is not much interest in the committee that I co-chair (Basically it is
just the two co-chairs with some occasional interest by others...typically
another board member).  But, if someone from the otherside of the state
said, "Hey, I am interested, but I can make it over to committee meetings
near Detroit", then I would certainly work to include that person.

Just thought I would try to offer you some hope that not all SEAs work in
the same manner.

Scott

On Wed, 24 Jan 2001, Structuralist wrote:

> Scott
> 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.
> 
> Respectfully,
> Dennis S. Wish, PE
> 
>