The new seismic ordinances recently passed in Los Angeles and San Francisco have created a greater demand for engineers in California. To discuss this need for engineers we interviewed Dr. Gregg Brandow, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at USC. Dr. Brandow has been involved in multiple seismic retrofit projects over the years, one example of his involvement being the strengthening of the March Air Force Base Hospital (USC faculty directory)
In addition, Brandow is also a member of the Los Angeles Tall Building Structural Design Council, which is active in the development of the seismic design and retrofitting of tall buildings. According to Dr. Brandow, USC engineering graduates have been leaders in seismic design and safety in California since the 1930’s. Although engineers from USC have certainly been active participants in seismic retrofit efforts, with the growing number of buildings that must be mandatorily retrofitted, there is still a dearth of structural engineers in California.
Structural engineering is a challenging and rewarding career Brandow says, and he mentions that there are more “glamourous” areas of engineering that students may prefer to it. In response to this, Dr. Brandow stated that an effort his department is making to remedy this is an outreach to high school students, which may help recruit young engineers who are interested in this particular segment of engineering. The USC engineering department has also recently invested several million dollars into new materials and equipment in order to help with the higher demand for state engineering services. Additionally, the department is seeking to hire two to three new faculty members to help continue the education of future engineers.
It is no secret that over the next few years California will experience rapid growth and change as the seismic retrofit ordinances are implemented throughout participating cities. It is comforting to know that prestigious universities, such as USC, are continuing to educate new and motivated structural engineers to help with the seismic retrofit processes. We at Penhall Seismic Services greatly appreciated Dr. Brandow’s willingness to speak with us and the helpful information he provided.