LinkedIn Best Practices for Structural Engineers

As many of you know, LinkedIn is a social networking website specifically aimed at business professionals and is designed to help you link1connect and network with people you know and trust. You can add colleagues, peers and others as contacts and send them messages. You can create and update your personal profile to let your contacts know about your professional activities, and both recommend or endorse your contacts and get recommended or endorsed by your contacts for your professional skills. In addition, you can join groups to communicate with other professionals within the same sector or industry. You are also able to ask and answer industry-related questions, and to learn about and apply for job openings.

A basic membership on LinkedIn is free, but you can also upgrade your account in order to have access to professionals outside of your network.

To help guide you, here are some best practices for how to set up and optimize your LinkedIn account.

Update and Complete Your Profile

link2Having a complete and updated profile on LinkedIn allows you to put your best face forward. Make sure to summarize your role and responsibilities and current and past work experience, highlighting the details you think will make a prospective customer want to work with you. Include a professional-looking headshot and your current contact information. LinkedIn will even tell you your profile strength on the right-hand rail.

Join Industry Specific Groups

Joining groups that are relevant to our industry will allow you to participate in online industry discussions. Answering questions related to your field of expertise within these discussions is an excellent way to position yourself as an authority and build your professional reputation. Here are some structural engineering groups that you can start with:

Structural Engineer

Structural Engineer USA

SEAOC-Structural Engineers Association of California

Forge Connections

Connect with people you already know using your email contacts. This will help you maintain your existing relationships as well as branch out to connect with industry-related people your contacts may know. Another great feature of LinkedIn is that it will tell you “People You May Know” based on where you work or are already linked to. This feature will help you find meaningful connections.

Follow the Company Page and Share Posts

Simpson Strong-Tie has a company LinkedIn page to connect with customers. Company pages are a way to keep up to date on trends in design and building materials, code changes, product launches and other industry news. Make sure to follow the Simpson Strong-Tie company page so that you can stay informed about our latest news and updates.

Manage Privacy Settingslink3

Make sure to review and manage your privacy settings to help you control how many people can view your activities and personal information. You can do this by hovering your mouse on your thumbnail image on the far right- hand side of your home page.link4You should see an Account & Settings drop-down menu appear with an option that says “Privacy & Settings: Manage.” Click this option. Once you are there, you can manage all of your privacy settings.

How do you use LinkedIn as part of your engineering career? Let us know in the comments below.

The Importance of Resilient Communities During Earthquakes

Imagine that it’s 4:30 a.m. and suddenly you’re awakened by strong shaking in your home. Half asleep, you hang on to your bed hoping that the shaking will stop soon. All of a sudden, the floor gives away and you fall. You think, “What just happened? How could this have possibly occurred? Am I alive?”

These could have been the thoughts of Southern California residents living in one of the many apartment buildings, which collapsed on January 17, 1994, during a 6.7 magnitude earthquake. The Northridge Earthquake brought awareness to buildings in our communities with a structural weakness known as a soft story, a condition that exists where a lower level of a multi-story structure has 20% or less strength than the floor above it. This condition is prevalent in buildings with tuck-under parking and is found in multistory structures throughout San Francisco, Los Angeles and other cities (see Figure 1). These structures are highly susceptible to major damage or collapse during a large seismic event (see Figure 2).

Soft Story building
Figure 1: Multi-unit wood-frame building with first weak story.
Aftermath of an earthquake
Figure 2: Collapsed soft story tuck under parking building. Image courtesy of LA Times

Soft story retrofits help to strengthen our communities and make them more resilient to major disasters. There are several resources available to structural engineers that need to retrofit weak-story buildings. Some of these resources are mentioned in our September 18 blog post.

During the 2014 SEAOC Convention held in Indian Wells on September 10-13, speakers discussed different methods, analysis and research that address the behavior of various materials and construction types during seismic events along with approaches to retrofit historically poor performing structures. This information can be viewed from the convention’s proceedings available at

On October 20, 2014, the Structural Engineers Association of Southern California (SEAOSC) will be hosting their 4th annual Strengthening Our Cities BAR Summit in downtown Los Angeles. This event brings together many different stakeholders in our built environment, including public officials, building owners and managers, business owners, insurance industry representatives, emergency managers and first responders, and design professionals.

Many prestigious thought leaders, including USGS Seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones will be speaking at the summit, discussing such topics as tools and analysis methods for retrofitting vulnerable buildings and the Building Occupancy Resumption Program (BORP).

Expect a great day full of useful information about ways to strengthen our communities and prepare for major earthquakes as well as opportunities to network with like-minded peers. For additional information and to register, visit We also hope you’ll visit our booth. We look forward to speaking with you there.

Structural Engineering, Shamu, and Calzones

I attended the SEAOC Convention in Santa Fe last year, and briefly mentioned it in this blog post. It was the first convention I had attended. I knew the presentations would be top notch based on the topics and knowing many of the speakers, but I had no idea how much Ashraf Habibullah and the other folks at Computers and Structures loved to party! The event they hosted at the Gerald Peters Gallery was beyond anything I expected – amazing food, art, dancing, open bar and even iPad giveaways.I was looking forward to attending the SEAOC Convention in San Diego this year, until I realized I would be in Quebec for ASTM D07 committee meetings that week.

So this week’s post summarizing the SEAOC Convention comes from Tim Stauffer, an R&D Engineer at our headquarters. Since joining Simpson Strong-Tie in 2008, Tim has worked on lateral system products, product development for our wood connectors, and development of products for the cold-formed steel industry where he was lead engineer for development of our line of connectors for curtain-wall construction. Prior to joining Simpson Strong-Tie, Tim worked for 15 years as a consulting structural engineer, including eight years where he ran his own practice. His experience includes the design, analysis and investigation of steel, concrete, masonry, and wood-frame buildings. Tim is a licensed professional engineer and structural engineer in the state of California. He received his bachelor’s degree in Architectural Engineering from Pennsylvania State University, and a Master’s of Science in Civil Engineering from UC Berkeley.

What do structural engineering, reconnecting with old friends, Shamu the whale, and a restaurant that serves the biggest calzone around have in common? The 2013 SEAOC Convention, of course! Held September 18-21 in San Diego, the annual convention is a great opportunity to learn about advances in the structural engineering profession, as well as spend time networking and re-connecting. Simpson Strong-Tie has always been a SEAOC supporter, and this year was no exception with a number of us from headquarters attending, as well as engineers and sales folks from our two California branches.

The two-and-a-half days of technical sessions included presentations on sustainability and design for solar installations; advancements in design for wood, concrete, and steel; wind, seismic, and blast analysis and design; tall structures and base isolation; and presentations on a variety of unique design projects. Of particular interest to many of us at Simpson Strong-Tie were presentations on high-rise wood structures, the growing use of cross laminated timber (CLT), the NEES-Soft testing performed at UCSD (including tests of buildings strengthened with our new Strong Frame® special moment frame), and advancements in steel moment frame design. Go here to view the convention program, including a complete list of the technical presentations.

Attendees listen to one of the many presentations offered at the SEAOC Convention Image credit: Computers & Structures, Inc.
A presentation at the SEAOC Convention. Photo courtesy of Computers & Structures, Inc.

In addition to the top-notch technical sessions, there was plenty of opportunity to reconnect with colleagues and build new relationships.  Many of us worked for consulting firms before coming to Simpson Strong-Tie, and the convention was a great opportunity to catch up with former co-workers. The ability to maintain connections with designers is invaluable for us as we develop products to solve real-world challenges to help people build safer, stronger structures. For more about the value of networking and how to get involved with industry organizations, see Annie Kao’s recent blog post.

Wendy Allen, a Field Engineer from our Northwest region and a SEAONC board member, makes some new friends Image credit: Brad Erickson, Simpson Strong-Tie
Simpson Strong-Tie Field Engineer Northwest Region and SEAONC Board Member Wendy Allen, PE, makes some new friends. Image credit: Brad Erickson, Simpson Strong-Tie.

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Is Your New Hire Ready For The Working World?

It’s that time of year again: newly graduated college students are entering the workforce.  For the student, it’s an anxious time. They are often wondering how and if four plus years of college has effectively prepared them for the real working world. For the potential employer, it can be a gamble. They have decided to take a chance on someone who likely does not have any professional work experience, but expect production from day one. On a recent visit to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, my colleague Scott Fischer got a firsthand view of what students are doing to prepare for a career.

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Flexible or Rigid? Multi-Story Light-Frame Structure Design Considerations

I like to think I’m flexible, but I’ve been accused of being rigid at times. I guess that’s what therapy is for. If you were to ask a light-frame structure diaphragm that same question, you would likely get multiple conflicting answers. The 1988 UBC first introduced parameters to evaluate diaphragm rigidity. Earthquake Regulations Section 2312(e)6 stated:

Figure 1. Flexible Diaphragm Definition from ASCE 7-05

Provision shall be made for the increased shears resulting from horizontal torsion where diaphragms are not flexible. Diaphragms shall be considered flexible for the purposes of this paragraph when the maximum lateral deformation of the diaphragm is more than two times the average story drift of the associated story. This may be determined by comparing the computed midpoint in-plane deflection of the diaphragm under lateral load with the story drift of adjoining vertical resisting elements under equivalent tributary lateral load.

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