SE University / SE Solutions is pleased to be a sponsor for Down Syndrome Indiana (DSI), Day of Giving on March 21, 2018 during the 1:00 – 2:00 pm EDT segment.  Kelley, the cousin of SE Solutions founder, Brian Quinn, will be interviewed during this hour.  “Down Syndrome Indiana is doing great work and we are pleased to be a part of their Day of Giving” says Brian Quinn.

DSI offers programs intended to promote the inclusion of individuals with Down syndrome in their greater community.  In addition, they offer support and information to families, caregivers, educators, employers and the professionals who serve individuals with Down syndrome.

On March 21st, for 24 hours, DSI’s Day of Giving will be devoted to engaging the local business community with families and individuals with Down Syndrome, and those who live and work alongside them – physicians, researchers, advocates, caregivers, sponsors, board of directors, and community base, all working toward one common goal: sharing with the world the incredible stories of individuals with Down Syndrome, and the advancements made in the research field and community. DSI is incredibly excited to be the first to host an event of this magnitude.

This online telethon event is anchored by a unique DSI Day of Giving website ( and strong social media presence (#DSIDayofGiving). DSI and its sponsors will create an online experience with a reach that extends well beyond a typical event. Facebook Live interviews will kick off each hour, beginning at 7 a.m. on March 21st, featuring the sponsors, staff, medical personnel, and families. Social media posts and challenges will begin at 4 a.m. and will span until 4 a.m the following day.

Learn more about Down Syndrome Indiana at or follow their Facebook page to watch the videos at the top of the hour on March 21st:

Do you often have days where your feel like you’ve been busy all day, but haven’t gotten much done?  Perhaps it is because you are focusing on the little things rather than the big things.  Adopting a policy of always doing the big things first can help shift your focus to what is most important and will be most productive.  After all, to make big things happen, you have to tackle big issues first.  Craig Jarrow shares more about the importance of prioritizing our daily tasks in this article from Time Management Ninja.

But what about the little tasks, you might ask?  Isn’t it just as important to complete these as well?  Craig Jarrow offers insight and tips to make sure the little things don’t slip through the cracks in another helpful article from Time Management Ninja.

Let’s be honest, we can all stand to implement some new strategies to help increase our efficiency.  Changing our approach to tackling a long “To Do” list, might be the answer you need to making sure each day is filled with the big things, and not just the little things!

When designing bracing connections, have you been using a weld ductility factor on welds subjected to shear and transverse loads to allow for adequate redistribution of stresses?  Although there have been multiple tests and papers showing the importance of this factor, some engineers are still unaware of its necessity which can result in underperforming bracing connections.

In the February 2018 SEU presentation Introduction to the Design and Cost of Steel Seismic  Connections – Braced Frames, Patrick Fortney, PhD, PE, SE, P.Eng., from the University of Cincinnati reviewed using the uniform force method in braced frame connections and covered the various strength and detailing requirements for braced frames and the associated costs.  In his presentation, Pat walked through the design of seismic steel connections, which also included many important thoughts on braced connection design, in general.

Pat specifically highlighted the importance of using a weld ductility factor of 1.25 to increase the load for which welds in all bracing connections subjected to shear and transverse loading.  This weld ductility factor accounts for issues with proximity and distortion within the braced frame connection and is necessary to allow adequate force redistribution within the weld..  Pat referenced the 2004 paper by Hewitt and Thornton, Rationale Behind and Proper Application Of the Ductility Factor for Bracing Connections Subjected to Shear and Transverse Loading, as a good resource to further understand the need for this ductility factor.  Although the Code does not specifically require this weld ductility factor, Part 13 of the AISC Steel Manual does recommend using it.

It is important to note that welds that are designed to develop the strength of the gusset plate need not be increased by the weld ductility factor, since the ductility of the plate allows the redistribution of load.  Also, the weld ductility factor does not apply to welds in shear only.  It is the combination of shear and tension on the weld that triggers the need for force redistribution within the bracing connection but only if proximity issues or distortion issues are present.

Many times these bracing connections may be delegated the steel fabricator, however, it is still important for EORs to be aware of the necessity of the weld ductility factor and its relevance in connection design.  Although not specific to seismic systems, Pat’s explanation of the weld ductility factor and its relevance is a welcomed reminder to engineers that may not be familiar with its use, or don’t typically design their own steel connections.

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

In January and February of 2018, SE University welcomed back Patrick Fortney, PhD, PE, SE, P.Eng, from the University of Cinncinati, to present Selecting the Appropriate Seismic System for Your Steel Project and Introduction to the Design and Cost of Steel Seismic Connections. In 2017, Patrick nominated Wounded Warrior Project ( for the SEU Speaker Inspires donation, and has chosen to do the same in 2018.

Patrick previously shared why he chose the WWP: “The mission of the Wounded Warrior Project is to honor and empower wounded warriors who incurred a physical or mental injury, illnesses, or wound, co-incident to military service on or after September 11, 2001. As with most veterans, these veterans served our country not out of any political bent or personal goal; they made selfless commitments to protect and preserve the great freedoms that we as Americans enjoy and vowed to resist anyone acting to take our freedoms from us.

The Wounded Warrior Project not only addresses the physical ailments of these veterans but, takes a holistic approach to helping veterans to once again acclimatize to their private and personal lives; addressing issues not only suffered by the veterans but, by their families as well. I encourage everyone to view the testimonials of the wounded veterans and their families to which this charity has served. We cannot overlook or underestimate the sacrifices made by our veterans.”

Thank you, Patrick, for helping structural engineers with your SE University sessions, and for your designation of Wounded Warrior Project as our SEU Speaker Inspires Organization of the Month!



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.

Are you a Recent Graduate or Student in Civil/Structural Engineering who would like to learn additional technical information to help you start your career as a structural engineer?  Transitioning from student to entry-level engineer has a learning curve associated with it. But with proper preparation and a commitment to continued learning, your entry-level job can lead to a rewarding career in structural engineering.

SE Apprentice can help you on your path to success!  This series of recorded sessions aims to present ideas and concepts not typically learned in class, and combine these with real world knowledge of how a building and project come together, to help give students and new graduates an idea of what to expect on a project they would work on in the office.

These sessions are available for both students and new/recent grads.  Please visit to access the sessions. While the SE Apprentice series is available at no cost for students, companies that find these sessions helpful for their newly hired engineers can elect to donate to Structural Engineers of Ohio (SEAOoO) Educational Awards Fund as a way to ‘pay it forward’ for the future generation of structural engineering students.  (but this is not required)

SE Solutions & SE University hopes this series benefits companies with new engineers as well as students wanting to be more prepared to start their career upon graduation.

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, Jason, for helping structural engineers with your SE University session, and for your designation of Operation Hope Neighborhood Ministries as our SEU Speaker Inspires Organization of the Month!



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.

How well do you trust the results of your structural analysis software?  Relying on software can save hours of design time, but using an inaccurate model can have devastating results.  Even the most experienced engineer can stand to be reminded of potential inaccuracies when using structural software, especially with the many changes made to building codes and in structural software updates.

In the November 2017 SE University session, Matt Brown, SE, from Newport Structural Design, Inc., presented Validating Software Results which covered a variety of pitfalls to avoid and rules of thumb to use when employing structural software programs.  Matt gave great examples of how small changes or oversights during the input can result in inaccurate and potentially catastrophic output.

First, Matt reviewed how designers need to be consistent in their use of ASD or LRFD loads and load combinations with the appropriate safety factors.  For instance, the use of ASD loads with LRFD safety factors would result in an unconservative software results.  Similarly, being consistent with ASCE7 wind speeds and load combinations and ensuring the correct code years.  If a designer uses the 2005 wind speeds with 2010 load factors, the results would be unconservative.  When multiple parties may be involved in the design, it is important for all parties to be aware of the applicable code year and be consistent throughout the design.

A second pitfall in using structural software analysis can be found in properly modeling the intended load path.  Often times, the load path is incorrectly modeled with boundary conditions that may not be accurate.  Being aware of how you would expect the building to transfer the loads down to the foundation before you solve the model will help to avoid unintended boundary conditions that would be inaccurate and drastically affect the analysis results.

Another common oversight in building models tends to result from the use of rigid diaphragms. When using collector beams to transfer lateral loads from the rigid diaphragm to the braced frame, the collector beam in the model will have zero axial load due to the strain compatibility of the idealized infinitely rigid floor compared to the less stiff steel beam.  However, in reality, the steel beam will have an axial load that will need to be checked by hand in addition to the flexural bending obtained from the software results.

Also, notional loads could help prevent unconservative designs and should be included in any software input.  This is especially important when using the Direct Analysis Method since the effective length factor K =1.0.  Without any notional nodes on a simple gravity analysis, there is no deflection that will create a P-delta effect to include in the analysis.  Thus, the frame will not be able to withstand any lateral load, even though the model shows the gravity analysis to be acceptable.

Knowing the capabilities of the software before employing its use can be invaluable to the design engineer.  Though software does sometimes have bugs that can cause issues during design, typically errors result from a lack of foresight on what results should be expected from the model.  To avoid future mistakes with your structural software analysis, be sure to watch out for these common pitfalls, and consider your expectations before you hit solve to be sure you have consistent results.


Holiday office party? Pot-luck lunch? Secret Santa? We’ve all been a part of various traditions in the workplace, and the holidays are a great opportunity to take a break from the daily grind and spend time with co-workers in a more social setting. But what if we included some new traditions that will create lasting memories together and benefit our local communities, all while celebrating the various holidays we celebrate this time of year?

Here are some ideas for creating new office party traditions to improve the world around us:

  • Host a winter clothing drive in your office. Bring in gently used winter coats or business attire to donate to organizations such as a local homeless shelter or Dress for Success. Get even more creative, and have each department compete to see who can bring in the most clothes to donate, and reward the winners with a company-sponsored free lunch.
  • Begin an affirmation holiday card exchange! Everyone brings in a holiday card, which are then labeled with an employee’s name at the top. The cards are then passed to each of the other employees to write something positive and affirming about the subject employee. This may require some organization, but the effects will be long-lasting.
  • Host an office-wide volunteer day. Select a local organization that could use some helping hands, and serve others with your co-workers. Groups such as Habitat for Humanity or local nursing homes or food pantries are always in need of additional help around the holidays!
  • Compete for an extra day off – on the company! Let each department compete to see who can raise the most donations for a local charity, and the winners get an extra day off around the holidays!
  • Holiday raffle for Toys for Tots. Collect toys to donate and pass out raffle tickets to employees for each toy they bring. Offer the winner an extra holiday bonus, or a special office perk for the upcoming New Year!

No matter how big or small, each workplace can do something together to make a lasting impact this holiday season, and it just might change your life as much as it benefits others around you!

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.”

Thank you, Matt, for helping structural engineers with your SE University session, and for your designation of the North Bay Fire Relief Fund as our SEU Speaker Inspires Organizations of the Month!


How do your relationships affect your attitude? When you are surrounded by positive personalities, do you find yourself looking forward to spending time with those people? When you have a connection to your community, whether it be your geographic, professional, or religious community, are you more likely to be engaged, and want to work hard to make it an even better place?

When stress in life might be getting you down, the fastest way to recovery is to surround yourself with positivity, and that includes the people you spend the most time with. When job burnout or employment stresses may be consuming your thoughts, having a confidante that can lend a sympathetic ear and support you through the crisis can make all the difference. Here are some simple ways you can build positive relationships to prevent or combat burnout:

  • Invest in your closest relationships.
  • Socialize more with your coworkers.
  • Limit your time spent with negative people.
  • Connect with a community group that shares your interests, such as a religious group, exercise class, or professional society.

If you feel as though you may be suffering from job-related burnout or stress, there are many resources available to help you back to a path of wellness. Long term burnout can affect every aspect of your life including your physical health. Building and maintaining positive relationships are one important step you can take to recover. For additional tips on improving a stressful work life, check out this helpful link to the MayoClinic or this link to

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