The SEAONC Structural Engineering, Engagement, and Equity (SE3) Committee held its 2022 Symposium in-person on June 16, 2022 at the Brower Center in Berkeley entitled The Past, Present, and Future of DEI in Structural Engineering. The goal of this symposium was to provide clear, actionable goals and resources for attendees looking to advance their DEI impact to the next level–whether that be their first step or if they had been previously involved in these efforts.
The half-day symposium kicked off with an inspiring keynote address given by past and current SEAONC SE3 chairs (Natalie Tse, Nick Sherrow-Groves, and Kaat Ceder); the speakers shared how SEAONC SE3’s goals and programming have evolved throughout the years and where the committee is going as new leaders set their eyes on the future. The keynote address was then followed by a presentation given by Priscilla Nguyen, entitled Civil and Structural Engineering Pathways: A Closer Look at Undergraduates, which summarized past research completed by the Racial Equity Task group and provided action items to address the underrepresentation of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) in our profession. The results of much of this work can be found on SEAONC SE3's Publications page.
After the initial presentations, the attendees attended one of three concurrent breakout sessions. In The Structural Engineer’s Role in a Sustainable & Resilient SF Bay Area session, three AEC industry panelists (Frances Yang, Dr. Laurie Johnson, and Sarah Rege) shared their thoughts on the human and community impact of sustainable and resilient design. In the Equitable and Community-Oriented Design session, three AEC professionals (David Mar, Joy Wei, and Julia Weatherspoon) summarized their experiences working on and delivering projects with a community focus and/or targeting more equitable outcomes. In the Creating and Maintaining Internal DEI Initiatives: An Open Forum session, four speakers (Hayley Proctor, Jen Gross, Rachel Cohen, and Tiffany Chatmon) shared their experiences and provided tips in implementing, adapting, and/or maintaining DEI programs at their respective offices and/or firms.
Following a brief coffee break, the attendees participated in a workshop entitled Active Allyship in the Workplace, which was facilitated by The PEER Group. The goal of this workshop was to enhance participants’ abilities to engage equitably in the profession while interacting with peers and clients and in how they practice engineering. This workshop was the first of a three-part series entitled Engineering Inclusive Engineers. The next two sessions are scheduled to take place virtually in August and in September - keep an eye out for the registration emails!
After the workshop, the attendees gathered in the Goldman Theater for the Firm Leader DEI Cohorts Program Panel Discussion. The panelists of this session consisted of four SEAONC firm leaders (Ann Coleman, Eric Long, Stefanie Rae Arizabel, and Thuy Fontelera) who participated in a year-long program called SEAONC SE3’s Firm Leader DEI Cohorts: Driving Innovation through DEI Strategies. The panelists shared lessons learned, accomplishments, and reflections on barriers they encountered while developing DEI initiatives at their firms and more broadly within the structural engineering community. More about the lessons learned from the Firm Leader Cohort program can be found in the program summary report here.
The symposium wrapped up with motivational Closing Remarks by Pradeep Jhamnani who encouraged attendants to take action and make our profession more diverse and inclusive. To conclude this eventful day, the participants enjoyed a networking social with food and beverages alongside peers and speakers.
The SE3 Committee is deeply grateful to all who participated in the 2022 SEAONC SE3 Symposium! Also, the SE3 Committee sends a heartfelt thank you to the speakers, volunteers, and organizers who helped make this sold out event filled with inspiration and a desire to drive change, a very memorable success. And finally, a big thank you to SEAONC for funding the Symposium!
More in-depth session descriptions and speaker bios can be found here. Photos captured during the Symposium by Tue Nam Ton (TNT) and sponsored by Computers & Structures, Inc. can be found here. Resources mentioned throughout the Symposium can be found here.
SEAONC SE3’s 2020-2021 year, led by committee chair Tiffany Hwang, was held online for its entire duration. Despite the challenges of creating virtual-only SEAONC programming, the committee focused on carrying out SEAONC SE3’s pledges related to racial justice outlined in our June 2020 statement through the newly formed Racial Equity Task Group, and continued our efforts through the Mentorship and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) task groups. The SEAONC SE3 Committee had a very productive year, having expanded its network by connecting with professionals and advocates throughout the state, hosted several successful virtual events, and continued to develop new resources that contribute to our mission to advance the profession.
Our 2020-2021 committee highlights are as follows:
Firm Leader DEI Cohort Program
Starting in February 2021, SEAONC SE3 hosted a yearlong Firm Leader DEI Cohort Program, led by Hayley Proctor, Brenna Marcoux and Curtis Siegfried. In this program, 16 SEAONC firm leaders met monthly in three cohorts and met quarterly with facilitator Viva Asmelash to discuss topics related to DEI recruiting and hiring practices, inclusive office culture, engaging employees in public service/DEI efforts, and developing DEI-conscious leaders.
Speed Mentorship Events
In August 2020 and June 2021, SEAONC SE3 hosted virtual Speed Mentorship events, led by Brenna Marcoux and Karen Vogt-Wilcox, respectively. Students, interns, and entry-level engineers all met with one or two mentors in three breakout sessions, with a total of 11 mentors and over 40 mentees in each event.
Monthly DEI Spotlights
In 2020-2021, Kaat Ceder authored the monthly DEI Spotlights, which were a new addition for the SEAONC Post. Each DEI Spotlight highlighted various DEI topics related specifically to the structural engineering community.
Bi-Monthly Racial Equity Book Club Meetings
The Racial Equity task group also hosted bi-monthly Racial Equity Book Club meetings to discuss topics surrounding being Black in America, whiteness, Asian Americans, the cost of racism, housing access equity, and Native American cultural burning and land rights.
Game Night with SEAONC YMF and SHPE-SFBA
In April 2021, SEAONC SE3 co-hosted a casual Jeopardy game night with SEAONC YMF and the SF Bay Area chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) to encourage connections among like-minded engineering organizations.
Volunteering with Girls Inc
In February 2021, Karen Vogt-Wilcox organized a virtual “field trip” for middle school girls in partnership with the non-profit Girls Inc to celebrate Engineers Week. SEAONC SE3 volunteers and middle school girls built gumdrop and toothpick structures and participated in mini-mentoring breakout sessions.
Distribution of Civil Engineering Education Experience Survey
The Racial Equity Task Group also developed and distributed a survey for current civil engineering undergraduate students. Our hope is to gain an understanding of student experiences and what we as professionals can do to better support their career growth and development. We received 285 responses and are looking forward to sharing findings with SEAONC in the coming months.
President’s Message with SEAONC 2020-2021 President Emily Guglielmo
The Racial Equity Task Group jointly authored a President’s Message with SEAONC Past President Emily Guglielmo in October 2020’s newsletter for a call to action to SEAONC members on proactively contributing to racial diversity, equity and inclusion efforts within our profession.
SEAONC SE3 Presentations to Students
SEAONC SE3 presented on our committee, equity in the profession, and about the Racial Demographics of Civil Engineering Pathways in California report to UC Berkeley SEMM students in November 2020 and to college students from various schools during the SEAONC University Spring Series in April 2021.
As part of an effort to improve leadership continuity, 2020-2021 was the first year with a new leadership structure: Chair Tiffany Hwang (SpaceX), Vice Chair Hayley Proctor (WJE), and Past Chairs Brenna Marcoux (Forell | Elsesser) and Rachel Cohen (Forell | Elsesser). Tiffany was excited to pass on the reins to 2021-2022 Chairs Hayley and Curtis Siegfried (Degenkolb), with 2021-2022 Vice Chairs Priscilla Nguyen (Martinez Moore) and Kaat Ceder (WJE). The 2021-2022 year continues with four active task groups, with many of our members taking on leadership positions:
SEAONC SE3 has a full program of events and projects planned for 2022, and would love to hear from anyone interested in helping to bring the best possible programming to our SEAONC community and beyond. Our committee is full of dedicated engineers with a passion for serving our profession. As always, feel free to reach out to the committee with ideas, comments, or questions at email@example.com.
SEAONC SE3 would like to highlight the statement put out by the Structural Engineers Association of Washington's Diversity & Inclusion Committee in response to the ongoing violence against the AAPI community this year.
To our AAPI members:
The D&I committee of SEAW stands with you in light of the senseless and ongoing violence against your community. We want to acknowledge the trauma and pain the community is feeling. These events make us recognize once again that we need to do better: we need to be more loving, we need to treat everyone with respect, and we need to end the racism that feeds this violence. Please reach out to us if you need a safe space to talk through what has happened. We are here to support you through this time.
To our Non-AAPI members:
If you have an AAPI coworker, we encourage you to reach out and make space for them. Some guidelines for how to effectively make space in a conversation can be found here. Remember to not center yourself in the conversation (“something similar happened to me too….”) and to not jump into problem solving mode. If you don’t have any AAPI coworkers, take some time to evaluate why that is. We also encourage you to sign up for a free bystander training being offered this month. Your ability to distract and diffuse a situation could literally be the difference between life and death. Lastly, if you are in management, consider implementing some policies that can help your BIPOC employees deal with the ongoing effects of racism: talk about racism in the office, provide parking/travel reimbursements for employees who don’t feel safe taking public transportation, and provide flexible PTO mental health days when a community is attacked. Work doesn’t happen in a vacuum; we are all a part of this community together. It is our responsibility to keep our community safe, together.
SEAONC SE3’s 2019-2020 year, led by co-chairs Brenna Marcoux and Rachel Cohen, focused on a few main charges: diversity and inclusion, and mentorship. Following our diversity and inclusion launch event: Building an Inclusive Workplace for ALL in the 21st Century that took place in October, 2019 at AIA East Bay, there was a lot of interest from our committee and our SEAONC community in continuing programming around this topic. SEAONC SE3 views the topic of diversity and inclusion to be central to our mission. Mentorship has been a continued charge for our committee since we started. Each year we’ve hosted one to two speed mentorship events, and in 2018, we launched our Long-Term Mentorship program, which we continued last year.
While we were challenged by the Shelter-In-Place order in the Bay Area due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we adapted to provide virtual events and considered our programming to be crucial to the engagement of individuals in our industry, especially during the work-from-home period we find ourselves in. The protests and resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement following the murder of George Floyd and many others at the hands of police this summer also refocused our committee’s efforts. We verbalized our commitments to racial justice and started a new subcommittee to carry them out.
SEAONC SE3 hosted a DEI leadership roundtable event on Thursday, October 29, focused on facilitating discussions among firm leaders in northern California about strategies to create a more inclusive workplace and address racial inequities in our industry. With the help of professional DEI consultant Viva Asmelash, we worked with participants to understand the importance of proactive DEI strategies at work and develop solutions and programs within their firms.
Thank you to Applied Technology Council, Arup, COWI, Degenkolb Engineers, Element Structural Engineers, Forell Elsesser Structural Engineers, FTF Engineering, Holmes Structures, KPFF, Liftech Consultants Inc., Maffei Structural Engineering, Martin/Martin, Pivot Structural Engineering, Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, Tipping Structural Engineers, and ZFA Structural Engineers for their participation in this event. A best practices brief sharing lessons learned with the larger SE community will be coming soon on our website.
Thank you to Stacy Bartoletti, S.E. for highlighting the event in his January 2021 Editorial in STRUCTURE Magazine "Making the Case for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion"
The SEAONC SE3 Committee has developed a survey for current civil engineering undergraduate students with the hope of gaining an understanding of their experiences and what we as professionals can do to better support their career growth and development. We are interested in learning how these students first learned about engineering, if they have ever considered switching majors, whether they are considering pursuing a graduate degree, and if they plan to continue pursuing a career in engineering after graduation. The committee is also collecting demographic information (gender, race, Federal Pell Grant eligibility, and first generation status) to determine if there are any trends surrounding the engagement and retention of students of color that we can share with the professional community at large.
With this survey, we hope to answer the following questions:
Link to survey: bit.ly/3dKmaSe
Please share this link with your student connections and encourage them to participate in the survey. Thank you in advance for your assistance! We look forward to sharing the findings from this survey with the A/E/C Community!!
To carry out SEAONC SE3’s pledges related to racial justice outlined in our recent statement, we formed an expanded Racial Equity Task Group (formerly the Diversity & Inclusion Task Group) who will continue meeting regularly over the course of this year to plan events and engage in ongoing research projects. Currently, we are compiling research relating to Black representation in structural engineering at the university and industry levels, gathering contacts to make connections with university groups serving underrepresented racial minorities in engineering, and discussing events such as the DEI leadership roundtable and programming specifically for BIPOC engineers. Our CE Education Experience Survey has launched. Please forward to any current undergraduate civil engineering students you know. A big thank you to SEAONC Racial Equity Co-Lead Priscilla Nguyen for her work on this survey Please reach out to us if you are interested in getting involved.
Priscilla Nguyen, Hayley Proctor, Tiffany Hwang, Curtis Siegfried, Kaat Ceder, Brenna Marcoux, Rachel Cohen, Jen Ton, Jennifer Alviso, Melissa Patel, Emily Guglielmo, Lorena Arce, Natalie Tse
On June 12th, SEAONC SE3 sent an email to its distribution list to confirm its continued commitment to stand and fight in solidarity with the Black community and the Black Lives Matter Movement. In this message, the committee shared its pledge to take specific actions in the 2020-2021 SEAONC year related to research, organized programming for local universities, roundtable discussion with firm leaders and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) consultants, and a commitment to give Black members of our profession a platform at SE3 events.
This pledge followed with a "Call-to-Action" to all firms and individuals to contribute to creating a more equitable structural engineering industry.
The committee has recommended specific action items for firms and individuals, and made them available to the community on this website. To read the full statement and to download some resources on this topic, please visit this page of our website.
SEAONC SE3 is currently launching its second year of the SE3 long-term mentorship program. We invite all SF Bay Area structural engineers to participate in this program.
The 2020 SE3 LT Mentorship Program
This year, the committee will be forming "mentoring groups" consisting of four to six people, varying in years of professional experience (entry-level, mid-level, and seasoned professionals).
For our program, groups will meet roughly once every other month. Meetings will of course be done virtually (until the Bay Area Counties remove or reduce restrictions due to COVID and it's deemed safe to meet in small groups).
What's great about this set-up is that everyone can benefit, no matter how many years they've been working in the profession:
The matching process virtually, so mentoring groups can form over the next month.
If you're interested in joining, please go to this link and complete an application.
Please forward this along to any colleagues at your firm who you think would be interested and can benefit from this program!!
Thank you to committee members Alan Puah, Steve Earl, Sara Rahme, and current co-chairs Rachel Cohen, and Brenna Marcoux for all their hard work setting up this new program for our local community.
The SEAONC SE3 Committee