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2018 NCSEA Structural Engineering Summit Recap

This year John O’Brien, P.C., S.E., Neal Turbow, P.E., S.E., Sarah Scarborough, P.E., and Mary Shinners, E.I.T. represented PES at the NCSEA Structural Engineering Summit in Chicago, Illinois. As always, the sessions were extremely informative and sparked numerous conversations. Read their recaps and takeaways from the conference below:

“One theme that appeared in several of this year’s Summit sessions was the importance of understanding “why”. Ron Klemencic’s opening keynote presentation discussed the value in researching the “why” when faced with various challenges in our profession, giving a memorable example of discovering that a well-known code provision contains a typo (can you say, “structural engineering DRAMA???”). This theme appeared again in Emily Guglielmo’s “Wind Design Beyond the Code” session, where she showed that if you have a good understanding of how the code generates wind loads then you can leverage that knowledge when designing an irregularly shaped structure. In Howard Birnberg’s “How to Be an Effective Project Manager” session, he emphasized the importance of cross-training. Learning from the other disciplines on the design team is crucial to developing the ability to propose workable solutions when coordination challenges arise. Overall, it was a great conference with many lessons learned.” – Mary Shinners, E.I.T., Assistant Project Manager

“The NCSEA Summit always has a great selection of technical sessions, but this year I found myself attending a good bit of non-technical sessions with several sessions focusing on improving your career. Stacey Hanke followed the keynote with her presentation, “Influence Redefined….Be the Leader you were meant to be Monday to Monday”.  She stressed the importance of public speaking, and provided tips like focusing on pausing between sentences and not using filler words (uh, um, so, anyways…).  These are skills that need practicing and will help in day to day conversations and at networking events in addition to a true presentation setting.  Ben Nelson was on the same page as Stacey in his presentation “What Really Matters for Success in Your Career”.  #10 on his list was “Hone your presentation skills”.  A few more of my favorites from Ben were #2 – “Always look to expand your skills and talent. Never stop training” and #9 – “Say yes to assignments as often as possible…and then deliver!”  If we’ve made it this far in our careers, our clients and colleagues most likely know we have the technical expertise to get the job done.  Placing an importance on communication and presentation skills while also delivering a great product will be an asset for longevity in our careers.” – Sarah Scarborough, P.E., Process Integration | Quality Manager

“In attending my first NCSEA Summit, I really didn’t know what to expect out of the various sessions and speakers, so I mixed up some technical sessions with some non-technical ones. The highlight of the first day was definitely Rafael Sabelli’s session titled “Three Tools for more Efficient Seismic Design in Steel Buildings.”As an engineer who is trying to work on more high seismic projects, this was a great and information packed review of stability design for steel structures, plastic analysis techniques for braced frame design, and a primer on high seismic moment frame design. I look forward to having these tools in my ‘toolbelt’ as I get to work on high seismic steel projects in the future. The highlight of day two was definitely Bill Baker’s (of Skidmore Owings & Merrill (SOM) and the Burj Dubai fame) and John Zils’s (also of SOM) talk titled “Chicago and The Skyscraper,” a short appraisal of the history of the skyscraper through the lens of Chicago’s rise from the Great Fire of 1871 to the modern high rise-filled metropolis it is today. The talk was made more interesting when it was revealed that John was one of the project engineers on the team at SOM who designed the Sears (now Willis) Tower. Talk about getting the story straight from the horse’s mouth! Overall, I found the Summit to be a great mixture of informative sessions, excellent networking and a great learning experience.” – Neal Turbow, P.E., S.E., Project Manager


“Day one of the conference began with a plethora of Committee meetings, including the Code Advisory Committee for Wind Engineering, where I serve as a member. A notable item from this meeting was that the Structural Engineers Association of California (SEAOC) with help from the NCSEA Code Advisory Committee (CAC) has published the SEAOC Wind Design Manual. This new publication offers guidance to the use of the ASCE 7 Wind Provisions through several worked example problems. The key takeaways from the session, Design and Inspection Responsibilities for a Project Utilizing a Metal Building presented by Greg Robinson, include: the Structural Engineer of Record (SEOR) on these projects often have limited scope related to PEMB and the PEMB SER often does not have control of, or responsibility to coordinate special inspections as they are not the Design Professional in Responsible Charge (DPIRC); MBMA has published the Guide for Inspecting Metal Building Systems to offer guidance to PEMB SERs, SEORs and inspectors; and the NCSEA CAC for Special Inspections & Quality Assurance hopes to publish a white paper soon on this topic with additional guidance for SEORs. Other notable sessions I attended included Standard of Care: In Theory and In Practice by Jerry Maly; PCI Design Handbook 8th Edition Content & Updates with Jared Brewe; and Inspiring the Next Generation of Structural Engineers to Lead, Influence, and Inspire with Ashraf Habibullah. The final day of the conference included a variety of great sessions. I attended Design and Testing of Facade Access Equipment presented by Gwenyth Searer. Several notable items included: IBC and ASCE 7 now offer design load guidance to clarify the 5 kip load specified by OSHA; depending on the type of access equipment, the equipment stall load may exceed the 5 kip ultimate safety arrest load; and OSHA requires that anchorages be load tested to a maximum of 50% of the required capacity prior to be putting into service. A rational owner/operator/engineer may consider testing these devices to 100% design based on guidance for load testing in the building code and material standard.”  – John O’Brien, P.E., S.E., Associate | Director of Engineering

Save the date for the 2019 Structural Engineering Summit which will be held November 12-15, 2019 at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, California.

We look forward to seeing you there!