SE University  



                    January 2018  
WELCOME to Learn, Innovate, Excel!  Our goal with this newsletter is to provide useful information and tips that will help you save time, be more productive, and also reduce risk. This information complements our SE University program, by introducing you to tips on a wide variety of topics affecting structural engineers.
If you have any tips you would like to share as part of a future Learn, Innovate, Excel newsletter, please email Lisa Willard or Brian Quinn

How often do you double check your structural software analysis to be sure the results are accurate and expected? Just because the model shows all members pass the code check doesn't mean the designer is off the hook to be sure the design is sound. Hand calculations and quick verity checks of the software results are necessary to ensure a code compliant structure is delivered to the client.  

In the November 2017 SE University session, Matt Brown, SE, from Newport Structural Design, Inc. gave a presentation on Validating Software Results. After reviewing many of the common errors designers make during structural modeling, Matt offered some rules of thumb to help encourage engineers to double check their software results and not blindly trusting the computer output. 

For example, Matt reminded engineers that a good span-to-depth ratio for steel beams under a standard floor load should be about 24 to meet strength and deflection requirements.  

Also, Matt talked about how most engineers do not have a feel for the capacity of each wide flange beam since the code has moved to be more strength based. However, given a 50ksi steel beam, most engineers intuitively know that a proper bending stress should be around 30ksi+/- with an appropriate safety factor. Therefore, if engineers take a closer look at the bending stresses of their members after running the model, inaccuracies can be caught if there was an input error in material properties ...  read the full article on our SE University blog.


Wind-borne debris is without a doubt a very serious design consideration when approaching a storm shelter or safe room design. In every tornado or serious wind event, there are devastating images of the effects from upturned trees, 2x4s, cars, and even large fuel tanks. Designing for such impacts can be daunting, and present day engineering theory may not be sufficient to effectively codify such impact forces. So what is a structural engineer to do when faced with protecting the public from these life-threatening debris impacts?  

In December 2017, Jason Pirtle, PE from Jason Pirtle Structural Engineers, Inc., gave a presentation on Tornado Shelter Design. Jason reviewed the requirements laid out in the 2015 IBC, discussing which occupancies are required to have storm shelters designed in accordance with ICC 500. Jason covered the various structural design considerations which need to be considered including the effect of wind-borne debris. 

Storm shelters are required to be designed to withstand wind-borne debris due to the abundant missile supply available during a storm event. Jason referenced Table 305.1.1 in ICC 500, as shown in this slide, which designates the missile speed of a 15 lb 2x4 board for various design wind speeds that shelters need to accommodate. The Code designates required missile impact testing for assemblies to be used in storm shelters as laid out in Sections 305, 306, and 804 of ICC 2015...   read the full article on our SE University blog.

SE University began the  SEU Speaker Inspires  program in 2015 as a way to "pay it forward," enabling our speakers to designate a charity/organization of their choice for SE University to make a donation to help improve our world. To learn more about the organizations that SE University speakers have chosen, please read our  SEU Speaker Inspires Blog Posts .

Matt Brown, SE, Newport Structural Design, Inc.
In November 2017, Matt Brown, SE, from Newport Structural Design, Inc., gave a talk on Validating Software Results. He chose the North Bay Fire Relief Fund ( for the SEU Speaker Inspires donation of the month. 

Matt shared why he chose to support the North Bay Fire Relief Fund: "My reason for choosing this organization is that my own house came dangerously close to burning down during the recent California fires. It made me aware that just because you live in a dense urban area you are still not safe from wildfires, and I feel for the people of Santa Rosa who never knew that they should have to prepare for this, and who lost everything."

Jason Pirtle, PE, Jason Pirtle Structural
Engineers, LLC
In December 2017, Jason Pirtle, PE, from Jason Pirtle Structural Engineers, LLC, gave a talk on Tornado Shelter Design. He chose Operation Hope Neighborhood Ministries ( for the SEU Speaker Inspires donation of the month.  

Jason shared why he chose this organization: "Operation Hope Neighborhood Ministries is a faith-based non-profit whose mission is to walk beside the hurting families in one of our area's vastly underserved communities. Over the last year Operation Hope distributed over 464,163 lbs. of supplemental groceries in the form of bread, fresh produce and meat, served over 5,902 weekly meals for families and provided afterschool/summer tutoring, safety and care for 326 children. Finding ways to meet our communities' real needs, whatever they may be, is the most important thing we can do as engineering professionals."

Thank you, Matt and Jason, for helping structural engineers with your SE University sessions, and for your designations of the North Bay Fire Relief Fund and Operation Hope Neighborhood Ministries  as  SEU Speaker Inspires  Organizations!


As we begin 2018, we'd like to remind you that upcoming SE University sessions can be used to help you meet your continuing education requirements - start earning hours now to avoid the last minute rush (of course, if you find yourself needing last minute hours, we can help with recorded sessions from our SE University Session Archives).

If additional hours are needed, please contact Lisa Willard to discuss how we can help you. 

States with license renewals for all engineers on April 30th:

Hawaii (No continuing education required) 
New Jersey

States with license renewals for some engineers by April 30th :

Kansas (April 30th)
Louisiana (March 31st)

In addition to the states listed above, there are other states that may require renewal based on your initial date of licensure or other rules for that state. Please check your license information to confirm your renewal dates.   
For more information about license renewal, please visit our Continuing Education Requirements by State page, where you can click on states in which you are licensed to see the license renewal date, as well as the continuing education requirements for that state. If you would like a complete summary of all 50 states, a PDF file is available for download below the map. This option can also be selected if you are viewing the page from a mobile device.
We hope that you find this information beneficial. If you have any questions, please contact Lisa Willard.



On February 14th, we will be welcoming back Patrick Fortney, PhD, PE, SE, P.Eng., from University of Cinncinati, to SE University to present Understanding the "Costs" of Connections Used in Steel Seismic Projects. This session will be held from 12:30 - 2:00 pm EST.

Handouts and registration emails for this session will be sent to SE University companies on Friday, February 9th.


On February 28th, we will welcome Betsy Werra, from E.L. Werra Consulting, to present our SEU BIM Forum: Tips and Tricks in Revit Structure.  This session will be held from 12:30 - 1:30 pm EST.

Handouts and registration emails for this session will be sent to SE University companies on Friday, February 23rd.

To learn more about subscribing to SE University, please contact either Lisa Willard at (805) 482-8436 ( or Brian Quinn at (616) 546-9420 (

Thank you for reading our Learn, Innovate, Excel Newsletter - we hope you found this information useful. If there are any questions we can answer, please do not hesitate to contact us by phone or email. 

Additionally, if you would be willing to help other structural engineers by sharing tips that you have, please email your tip to If we choose your tip to publish, you will have your choice of a $50 Amazon gift card or a $50 donation sent to the Structural Engineering Association of your choice. 

Your SE University Team

Brian Quinn, P.E. 

Lisa Willard, P.E. 

Jenny Schultz, P.E.

Cathleen Jacinto, S.E., P.E.

Linda Benson 

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Coming Soon to SE University


February 14, 2018
Understanding the "Costs" of Connections Used in Steel Seismic Projects

Patrick Fortney, PhD, PE, SE, P.Eng.
University of Cinccinati

February 28, 2018
SEU BIM Forum: Tips and Tricks in Revit Structure

Betsy Werra
E.L. Werra Consulting, LLC

March 14, 2018
Classical Design Methods

David Odeh, SE, PE, SECB, F.SEI, F.ASCE
Odeh Engineers, Inc.

April 18, 2018

Ethics in Structural Engineering

Matthew Rechtien, PE, Esq.

May 23, 2018

SEU BIM Forum: Tips and Tricks in Revit Structure

Betsy Werra
E.L. Werra Consulting

For updated session descriptions and schedules, visit the SCHEDULE page.