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"Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than the one where they sprang up."

– Oliver Wendell Holmes

On May 10th, 2019, the Structural Engineers Association of Northern California's (SEAONC) local chapter of SE3 hosted their very own symposium in downtown San Francisco, CA. The #ChangeXSE3 Symposium was themed A Changing Workplace: How to Engage, Retain and Secure the Future of our Profession.


The attendance list included over 150 people in various stages of their career from across the AEC industry. The symposium was kicked off with a keynote presentation followed by three sessions focused on SE3's core research categories. Attendees participated in breakout sessions and a panel discussion followed by a networking reception.


To learn more about the event, check out SEAONC's Event Recap and read on to hear what attendees loved about the event!


Photo courtesy of Natalie Tse.

Kaylee Efstathiu

Designer | LIONAKIS

Attending the SE3 symposium this year was an unexpectedly insightful experience! The structure and focus of the day streamlined the theme of engagement and equity in the workplace and its importance on keeping engineers engaged at all stages of their careers. The keynote speaker started the conversation with her explanation about the difference between being satisfied vs engaged. The breakout sessions provided an opportunity to investigate this further and discuss how we can break the mold in our own offices with ideas on what management and employees can do to help change the culture of the office. And of course, no event would be complete without a chance to really ENGAGE with our colleagues in a social happy hour setting to get to know each other, share our thoughts on the day and have some fun with everyone in attendance! 


The symposium gave me an experience I won’t soon forget, introduced me to new longtime friends and started a conversation I hope to carry on at my office and in getting an SE3 committee started in the Structural Engineers Association of Central California (SEAOCC).

George Theo

Human Resources and Business Management | Coughlin Porter Lundeen

This year’s symposium clarified the importance of diversifying our workforce in creating work environments that foster creativity. Diversity and inclusion fuels imaginative solutions to challenging problems through an architectural and systematic approach that benefits more than one segment of population with long-term impact. SE3’s research and the 2019 program content helped us better understand the landscape of our field and the opportunities, providing a road map to better support, mentor, champion and progress our staff. Thanks for building the foundation of knowledge for us!


Photo courtesy of Natalie Tse.

Tim Hart, PE, SE, LEED AP

SEAONC President 2018-2019 | Lead Civil/Structural Engineer

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

On behalf of myself and the SEAONC Board, thank you all for putting this symposium together. I continue to be amazed and impressed by the level of effort and energy that you put into the SE3 Committee and its many activities and how successful those activities have been. I am so very proud to speak of you to structural engineers around the world.

I also want to add a big thank you to Hayley and Zahraa for leading the organizing effort and hosting the event, and a huge thank you to Natalie for not just for what you did for this symposium but also for everything that you do for SE3, SEAONC, and the structural engineering community.

Anisa Awad

Staff Engineer | Element Structural Engineers

The 2019 SE3 symposium was enjoyable, enlightening, and informative! It was a great opportunity to connect with the leaders in the industry. The stories on retaining structural engineers and ensuring they stay engaged and willing to give back to their profession and community opened our eyes to options that our company can pursue to help our own employees thrive in their careers. The guest speakers were knowledgeable and willing to share their experiences to help improve the industry as a whole and on a national level. The research findings from the surveys included a great amount of information that can be used to re-shape company values and perspectives on topics including diversity, inclusion, and employee engagement. We look forward to implementing the valuable information we retained from this symposium and attending future events.

Darcey Schumacher, P.E., LEED AP BD+C

Principal | Wallace Engineering Structural Consultants, Inc.

As a structural engineer outside of the SEAONC membership, I thoroughly enjoyed being immersed in the vast amount of data, content, and insights offered by the 2019 SE3 Symposium and the SEAONC community. Hearing about the results of the 2018 national survey has peaked my interest in what we as practicing engineers and managers can do to better the profession.  The message of employee engagement not being the same as employee satisfaction seems simple when explained, but proves to be challenging in practice when there are so many different personalities, generations, and individual circumstances to consider. The informative and collaborative venue provided by the SE3 Symposium helps bring together different perspectives and tools to address these challenges. Finally, I look forward to continuing the conversations and network that I started through this experience and anticipate that more insights and resources will be shared throughout the year.  Thank you to the National SE3 committee and SEAONC for your efforts and hospitality.


Photo courtesy of Natalie Tse.

Joris Gjata

Postdoctoral Associate | University of Colorado Boulder Environmental Design

I attended this year’s symposium for the first time. As a sociologist studying professional organizations, culture and social movements, it was inspiring and exciting to experience the community that the SE3 project organizers have built around engagement and equity within the structural engineering profession. Not only did I learn about the 2018 national survey and its most interesting findings, but also met and talked to passionate advocates of the professional empowerment of structural engineers through personal growth and organizational cultural transformation.

The SE3 group through this Symposium offered a space for bringing up, defining and reflecting on the dearest and most pressing issues for structural engineers in their profession. I appreciated how they created an environment conducive to learning about the diversity of careers and engagements of structural engineers and efforts to organize within and with the professional organizations in the design field to support and make the best of such diversity. It was great also to witness the sincere discussion and conversation emerging about the meaning and role of social engagement in the profession and its practicing professionals. I cannot wait to see the future of the SE3 group and their wonderful work!

Stefanie Rae Arizabal, P.E.

Project Engineer | Strandberg Engineering

Company culture and diversity are of upmost importance to ensure engagement in our profession, and the SE3 committee displayed an incredible, concerted effort to demonstrate exactly why that is so. The symposium served as a great resource for identifying factors that lead to being unengaged / withdrawing from the profession, and ways to alleviate them. It was successful in alluding to what drives retention and satisfaction, and ways we can achieve that as staff, management, and companies as a whole. More importantly, the breakout speakers and panelists emphasized that although our presence serves to validate the desire for impacting & securing the future of our profession, initiative and action are essential for promoting and creating positive change.

The networking event following the symposium provided an outlet for structural engineers of all levels of experience to socialize informally, allowing opportunity for the interconnection of perspectives, which are invaluable when put together. Moreover, it allowed individuals from numerous firms to meet a variety of amazing, proactive professionals in our industry.

The structural engineering community is so fortunate to have a group of people committed to bringing awareness and growth to our profession, and I look forward to both participating and contributing to future endeavors/events.


Photo courtesy of Natalie Tse.

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