96 episodes

The Structural Engineering Channel (TSEC) focuses on helping structural engineering professionals stay up to date on technical trends in the field. Our hosts for the show, Mathew Picardal, PE, and Cara Green, EIT interviews engineers ranging from recent engineering graduates to professionals from top engineering organizations on professional development topics for structural engineers to facilitate career advancement.



Topics covered include but are not limited to performance-based design, fasteners and connections, post-tensioned structures, smart structures, tsunami modelling, earthquake engineering, software solutions, seismic design, blast resistant design, wood, business issues and professional development for structural engineers, how to specify things effectively, and more.

The Structural Engineering Channel Anthony Fasano, PE, Mathew Picardal, PE, and Cara Green, EIT

    • Business
    • 4.4 • 15 Ratings

The Structural Engineering Channel (TSEC) focuses on helping structural engineering professionals stay up to date on technical trends in the field. Our hosts for the show, Mathew Picardal, PE, and Cara Green, EIT interviews engineers ranging from recent engineering graduates to professionals from top engineering organizations on professional development topics for structural engineers to facilitate career advancement.



Topics covered include but are not limited to performance-based design, fasteners and connections, post-tensioned structures, smart structures, tsunami modelling, earthquake engineering, software solutions, seismic design, blast resistant design, wood, business issues and professional development for structural engineers, how to specify things effectively, and more.

    TSEC 96: Designing with Mass Timber: What You Need to Know

    TSEC 96: Designing with Mass Timber: What You Need to Know

    In this episode, we talk to Tanya Luthi, P.E., a structural engineer and Vice President at Entuitive, talks about the unique aspects of designing with mass timber and what she thinks makes a successful timber engineer. She also touches on the link between mass timber and sustainability and how tall we can build in mass timber projects.



    ***You can view the video version of this podcast episode on YouTube here.***

    Engineering Quotes:











    Here Are Some of the Questions We Ask Tanya:



    What are some of the unique aspects of designing with mass timber?

    How does the process of mass timber design differ from the more traditional steel and concrete structures?

    What would you say makes a successful timber engineer?

    What is the link between mass timber and sustainability?

    How tall can/should we go in mass timber?

    What are some of the things you should mention to the clients about the use of mass timber?



    Here Are Some of the Key Points Discussed About Designing with Mass Timber: What You Need to Know:





    Steel and concrete have very standardized specifications. However, with mass timber, there are many different aspects. The first is a natural material, so it’s very variable and more complex to understand the safety factors in building new things.

    Mass timber is a sustainable product, and it is interesting how professionals are understanding embodied carbon and have started to pay more attention to the energy that goes into creating things we put in buildings, and not just the energy the building consumes.

    A thriving timber engineer must know the principal foundations and the material behavior of other engineers in their areas of expertise. But mass timber is even more critical because there are not many precedent projects that you can look at to get your questions answered. You must often think with a blank slate about what will make sense.

    In the structural side and design industry, sustainability is focused on operational energy, like energy use in a building and the materials used to build the structure. The objective is to reduce operational emissions.

    There are different global codes related to how tall mass timber can go. Some jurisdictions in the U.S. are allowed six stories and 85 feet, but the 2021 version of the IBC allows up to 18 stories in timber. It is a large, unexpected code change because it usually comes gradually and incrementally.

    One of the main conversations in mass timber projects is educating clients on what mass timber entails. Successful collaboration with your client implies understanding roles, like what motivates them and what they know. In that way, you can use that knowledge to steer the conversation and focus more on the things that inspire your client. Each client has different interests as a differentiator, like the aesthetic architectural design or even sustainable construction.

    Structural engineering is an exciting and rewarding profession; it has much potential to give to the world. Don’t be afraid to change; you can embrace it. Almost always, the younger generation has the courage and the energy needed in the industry. But one piece of advice is to speak up because your ideas are essential and can help you to achieve better things than you have today.



    More Details in This Episode…



    About the Guest: Tanya Luthi, P.E.

    Tanya Luthi is a structural engineer and vice president at Entuitive, a multi-disciplinary engineering practice operating in multiple offices across North America. After obtaining her master’s degree from The University of Texas, Tanya started her engineering career in New York City specializing in large-scale institutional projects in steel and concrete. After moving to Vancouver, Canada, in 2011,

    • 36 min
    TSEC 95: Why Mass Timber Is Gaining in Popularity in the Engineering Industry

    TSEC 95: Why Mass Timber Is Gaining in Popularity in the Engineering Industry

    In this episode, we talk to Eric McDonnell, P.E., the Principal at Holmes, about why mass timber is gaining popularity and how it can help you in your engineering projects. He also talks about how his time working abroad has helped grow his engineering career.

    Engineering Quotes:



    Here Are Some of the Questions We Ask Eric:



    How has volunteering helped to grow your career?

    What was it like working in Christchurch, NZ to help with the rebuild after the 2011 Canterbury earthquakes, and what did you learn from it?

    As an early adopter of mass timber, how have you seen the industry evolve?

    Talks to us about your research on Mass Timber in the United States, including participating in the NSF/NHERI Collaborative Research project to develop a Resilience-Based Seismic Design Methodology for Tall Wood Buildings.

    Why do you think mass timber is gaining in popularity in the construction industry?

    What is your opinion on the cost of mass timber, its long-term sustainability and applications in different environments, and what do you think the future holds for mass timber?

    Do you have any final piece of career advice for structural engineers out there?



    Here Are Some of the Key Points Discussed About Why Mass Timber Is Gaining in Popularity in the Engineering Industry:





    Starting working with Engineers Without Borders was the first step as a volunteer for Eric. He was able to connect with other organizations and work after the Canterbury earthquake in 2011. For him, it was a rewarding experience and helped him to recognize the differences in construction from the western world.

    Civil Engineering is a career that allows you to give back and can be fulfilling. It can open doors in your career, give you more exposure to individuals in the industry, and offer you broader opportunities in the future.

    Young engineers must be encouraged to volunteer as soon as possible.

    The UCSD shake table is the world’s first outdoor shake table and the largest outdoor earthquake simulator in the U.S. It has been upgraded recently to have more degrees of freedom. In this new configuration, the movements are multidirectional.

    Mass timber is gaining popularity because the sustainability aspect of this material is very important. Mass timber construction emits significantly less carbon than traditional concrete and metal structures, which gives the timber a space to contribute to reducing global warming.

    There are a lot of marker differentiators out there. To build an office building, you need to do something different.

    Mass timber is a tool that goes towards a better-built environment, but it cannot necessarily replace concrete and metal. In terms of supply, sustainability, and sourcing, mass timber is a unique material that can be grown by sun and water.

    Find a good workplace where you can enjoy your work and feel valuable. You spend more time with your coworkers than other people, so being around people you like, and trust is essential.



    More Details in This Episode…



    About the Guest: Eric McDonnell, P.E.

    Eric is a native of the Pacific Northwest and leads Holmes’ Portland office. Before his return to Portland, Eric was largely shaped by his experience working in San Francisco and post-earthquake Christchurch, New Zealand. He is well-positioned to bring knowledge of the latest techniques of resilient seismic design to his projects. With a passion for structural detailing, Eric excels in the coordination of structural elements with other design disciplines, and the design, research, and implementation of innovative structural systems.



    Eric has a broad knowledge of all building materials, including mass timber for which he has remained at the forefront of emerging industry standards. Working in Portland,

    • 22 min
    TSEC 094: How Getting an MBA Can Help You Elevate Your Engineering Career

    TSEC 094: How Getting an MBA Can Help You Elevate Your Engineering Career

    In this episode, we talk to Damon Ho, MBA, a segment market manager at Simpson Strong-Tie, about how getting an MBA can help you in your engineering career and the type of careers that engineers with an MBA can pursue.

    Engineering Quotes:











    Here Are Some of the Questions We Ask Damon:



    Why did you decide to pursue a career in engineering and how did you identify and find your niche in the industry?

    What made you decide to go for an MBA and how has it helped you in your engineering career?

    What are some of the benefits of getting an MBA after you graduate as an engineer?

    How do you know which engineering discipline is right for you and what career can engineers with an MBA pursue?

    Why do you think saying yes to opportunities in your career is important?

    Why is it important for engineers to have a mentor or a role model in their careers?

    Do you have any career advice for structural engineers?



    Here Are Some of the Key Points Discussed About How Getting an MBA Can Help You Elevate Your Engineering Career:





    If you find that you are good at drawing and understanding technical drawings in school, maybe engineering could be a career direction you could follow. Consider working toward getting your MBA if you find that you are interested in the business side of engineering and if it is convenient for you to pursue it at the time.

    Getting an MBA will provide you with new skill sets, like being able to interact with people outside of engineering. It will help you to realize how big the opportunities are that are available across the world. The marketing and organizational behavior concepts have a technical merit behind them that works well with technical-minded engineers. It is a new language that you can apply to your engineering skill sets and concepts. It is easier for engineers to fit into an MBA program than it is for someone with a business background to start an engineering program. Remember that a degree is just a piece of paper on the wall until you do something with it.

    The interaction in MBA classes is like engineering, but you will interact with people with vastly different business backgrounds. Interacting with these diverse people is what provides the value to getting an MBA. Hearing the many different points of view from many diverse people, and not only the black and white from engineering, helps you to have a much broader perspective on things.

    It can take time for younger engineers to figure out what their likes and dislikes are in their careers, but it is OK if you do not know. You still have time to figure it out. If you are not happy where you are now, have a positive mindset and take it as a building block for something better for you later in your career. These building blocks are the stepping stones to your happiness. Knowing what you do not like is just as important as knowing what you do like. Sometimes you must have uncomfortable conversations with your manager about your likes and dislikes and if there is a way that you can be better accommodated. Remember that feeding your negativity will never be productive for yourself and others around you.

    There are always uncomfortable unknowns and challenges in new opportunities. Embracing them is when you get to learn the most. Don’t be afraid to step into the limelight and contribute to solving challenging situations. New opportunities will present themselves to you from your contributions. Always remember that if your team members find something wrong with a solution you present, it is because your team is trying to find the best solution for the problem at hand, and are not trying to break you down.

    Having good mentors throughout your career is important because they are standing on their many building blocks that give them a wider perspective than you have.

    • 26 min
    TSEC 93: Why All Engineers Should Get Involved in Professional Associations

    TSEC 93: Why All Engineers Should Get Involved in Professional Associations

    In this episode, we talk to Krista Looza, S.E., a licensed structural engineer and principal at Buehler, about how her involvement in the Structural Engineering Association of California (aka SEAOC) has supported her career path and professional development, and why she think all engineers should get involved in professional associations.

    Engineering Quotes:











    Here Are Some of the Questions We Ask Krista:



    What is SEAOC and what can it offer for structural engineers?

    What roles have you filled at SEAOC through the years and how have those experiences supported your professional development?

    Should ALL engineers get involved in professional associations?

    What was your experience like being a female engineering leader in SEAOC?

    What made you decide to get involved in the ACE Mentor Program, and how has it helped you in your engineering career?

    How do you decide what to work on each day while maintaining a healthy work-life balance?

    What is your philosophy on mentorship and training?

    How did you implement a mentorship program in Buehler?

    Do you have any career advice for structural engineers out there?



    Here Are Some of the Key Points Discussed About Why All Engineers Should Get Involved in Professional Associations:





    There are many roles you can fill and many experiences you can learn from if you are actively involved in SEAOC. It is a great place where you can develop yourself professionally. There are many kinds of training that you can be involved in to better your education, leadership skills, communication skills, and much more. It is a great community where you can build and grow your network exponentially.

    SEAOC is a community where you will not feel alone when times are looking bad. The community will support you through these times, which will result in feelings of comfort, peace, and knowing you are on the right track. They provide great opportunities for your professional development and building your relationships in your network.

    If you want to get involved with professional associations, look for a committee that is focused on your interests and what you want to be involved in. Go to the meetings about whichever topic you are passionate about. You do not have to be in a leadership role, but leadership roles are easy to come by.

    SEAOC is great at filling the gaps that a firm or company cannot do. Women can find female engineering role models in professional associations that they could not find in their firms. Seeing other women in leadership roles will make you realize that you too can be successful in a leadership role and lend what you have to offer to the profession and your firm. The community that you may not have in other areas of your life you will find at a professional association like SEAOC. Exposure to the diversity of our profession and industry is more available than it ever was before, and is much more accessible for our younger engineers.

    The ACE Mentorship Program is a friendly place where you can practice your communication and presentation skills, and it will present you with leadership opportunities. It can help you recognize patterns in your interests that you never took note of before. It is the opportunity for you to show people that are interested in your career path as well as which way you want to go. It is a great way to give back and further your profession.

    The best way to ensure your work-life balance as an engineer is to become a list maker. Put everything in your life on your list and calendar because everything has it’s priority, not only your work. It is all a part of your daily life. Set your list according to priority. Whatever is at the bottom of this week’s list must be at the top of next week’s list. Learn to qualify when you should say yes or no to things...

    • 28 min
    TSEC 092: Significant Changes to the Wind Load Provisions of ASCE 7-22

    TSEC 092: Significant Changes to the Wind Load Provisions of ASCE 7-22

    In this episode, we talk to William (Bill) Coulbourne, P.E., F. ASCE, F. SEI, a structural engineering consultant and owner of Coulbourne Consulting, about the key changes in ASCE 7-22 wind load provisions that will impact the design of buildings for wind.

    Engineering Quotes:







    Here Are Some of the Questions We Ask Bill:



    How will the new changes impact the design of buildings for wind loads?

    Talk to us about the first change, which is the added wind load provisions for tornado wind loads.

    What does the second change to the wind load provision, that was to remove tabular methods of wind pressures from chapters 27, 28, and 30, involve?

    The third change was to revise the Component and Cladding charts of pressure coefficients and simplified processes. Can you please talk to us more about that?

    There were also provisions made for ground-mounted solar arrays. Why were these changes needed and what are some of the potential benefits of ground-mounted solar arrays?

    Another change was the added wind load provisions for elevated buildings. How will this impact the design process for structural engineers going forward?

    The last change was the added provisions for rooftop pavers. How will this change affect structural engineers in the field?

    Do you have any career advice for structural engineers on how they can avoid making costly errors during the design process?



    Here Are Some of the Key Points Discussed About the Significant Changes to the Wind Load Provisions of ASCE 7-22:





    The changes to the ASCE 7-22 wind load provisions focus only on the component and cladding loads because they experience higher wind pressure than the rest of the structure. The provisions have been made simpler than in previous provisions by reducing the number of steps needed in the processes of getting the loads on components and cladding.

    The added provisions for tornado wind loads came about because of the number of severely damaging tornados that have occurred over the past 10 years. Everything about tornado loads can now be found in ASCE 7-22 chapter 32. The development of tornado hazard maps enables us to determine the hazard risk for a tornado in any part of the country. The provision changes focus mainly on risk category 3 and 4 buildings for tornado loads.

    The tabular methods of wind pressures were removed from the wind load provisions because it was realized that updating all the tables due to small changes was cumbersome, and everyone can do it on their own since the formulas have been in the standard all along.

    The revision of the Component and Cladding charts of pressure coefficients and simplified processes was done because, on previous revisions, the wind coefficients were driven up due to the smaller areas on the wind charts that were analyzed. Doing this increased the pressure on smaller areas, and lost the distribution factor of wind pressure across larger areas and the load-sharing across multiple fasteners. Now the small areas are capped at 10 square feet and nothing smaller, and the larger areas are now 100, 200, and 300 square feet, with nothing above or in between these values.

    The provisions for ground-mounted solar arrays were added because there were previously no professional guidelines for wind loads on them. Now, with the help of solar array professionals, provisions have been made for solar arrays.

    The added wind load provisions for elevated buildings came about because there were no wind load provisions for the underside of elevated buildings. Many engineers previously incorporated the wind provisions for the roof of the buildings into the underside of the building plans. The new provisions give engineers something that is science-based and should be more accurate than what was previously done.

    • 30 min
    TSEC 91: Renovation and Restoration of Existing Buildings (And the Importance of Teamwork)

    TSEC 91: Renovation and Restoration of Existing Buildings (And the Importance of Teamwork)

    In this episode, we talk to Geoff Smith, PE, LEED AP, a Senior Associate at Silman, about the process of existing buildings renovations, and how teamwork plays a major role in these types of projects.

    Engineering Quotes:







    Here Are Some of the Questions We Ask Geoff:



    What is meant by the words "existing building" and how can an existing building be sustainable?

    Retrofitting an existing building can oftentimes be more cost-effective than building a new facility. How do you determine if the investment is worthwhile?

    What is a probe campaign and how does it affect the renovation process?

    Why are reviews of existing documents important when retrofitting a building?

    What about the existing building history? Do you also have to review that?

    What were some of the pros and cons of working with government agencies?

    What makes a good collaborative team and how does it affect the projects they work on?

    When working on renovations over a long time, how do you manage and improve team dynamics?

    Do you have any career advice for structural engineers when working on building projects?



    Here Are Some of the Key Points Discussed About Renovation and Restoration of Existing Buildings:





    An existing building is a building that is already there and has already been built. Existing buildings are sustainable and are worked with to reduce greenhouse gasses and carbon footprints.

    If the bones of a building can hold up to what the program is for the structure, it is better and more cost-effective to renovate the building instead of tearing it down and building a new one. You will help the environment and help the owner achieve what they are looking for.

    Tearing down a building, and then constructing a new one is hitting the carbon footprint twice. The old materials must be removed and then the new materials must be manufactured and constructed in their place.

    Probe campaigning is taking down a building’s finishes until you are left with the structure. It is the best way to confirm if the building drawings are still correct or if there have been modifications to the building and the plans have not been updated accordingly. They are a good way to reduce the risk of a project and understand what work will need to be done to bring it up to standard.

    When a building was built and where it was built gives a good indication of how it was built. It will help in doing probe campaigning in the correct areas of the building. Understanding the construction methodology at the time it was built has great value. Without knowing the history of the building, you will not know where to start working on it.

    All drawings of renovations must be submitted to the government departments for review. The reviews can take some time to be done because they have very specific requirements that must be on the drawings. It is to ensure that you are not putting too much load onto the structures that are already quite old.

    Buy-in from both the design team and the construction team makes a good collaborative team. If you have project teams that work together on a project and are not combatant, it makes the project go a lot smoother and faster.

    To manage and improve team dynamics over a long time, you must have many face-to-face meetings to iron out any conflicts that may arise. Face-to-face meetings help to let each party see that the emails they send and receive involve other people. Having out-of-work events with your teams helps to boost collaboration because everyone is seen how they are in personal time instead of just being a structural engineer.

    You must always be willing to learn because between materiality and technology, everything is always changing. If you learn something well, do not be afraid to learn something else well too.

    • 19 min

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