Why did you choose structural engineering as a career?
Han: There are a couple of things that influenced me when I was growing up. When I was in middle school my older brother was reading a book titled, “How to Become an Architect.” I was also fascinated with the Seven Wonders of the World and found myself appreciating majestic structures which stood the test of time. Later in my teens, I also learned that my grandfather and others in my extended family had careers in the building industry. I suppose it explains my passion for buildings!
Emily: I was inspired by my aunt, who is a structural engineer. After years of admiring construction sites I passed on the road, I realized that I had an interest in designing structures.
Tell us about your education and past experience before coming to KNA Structural Engineers:
H: I attended the University of Southern California (Fight On!) and received my Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering and my Master’s Degree in Building Science in 2012. I previously worked at Brandow & Johnston (B&J) for two and a half years.
E: I did my Bachelor’s Degree at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), and my Graduate Degree at Stanford University. While at UCI, I had internships with the structural consulting company BORM International and the general contractor Hensel Phelps.
What’s a favorite project that you’ve worked on?
H: There are many projects I was privileged to be involved in, but if I were to choose, it would be the Wilshire Grand Redevelopment project located in downtown Los Angeles. It was a great pleasure to work alongside my teammates at B&J and see the project come to life (The job site was visible from our office!). All the hard work from the design team, builders and management culminated to produce a beautiful structure!
E: My favorite project so far has been the Plummer Auditorium. The auditorium is located in Fullerton and was first built in 1929. It’s already exciting to work on a seismic retrofit this early in my career, but to work on a project with historic significance is even more meaningful to me.
What would be your dream project?
H: In the summer of 2009 and 2010 during college, I had the opportunity to visit small, rural villages in Chiang Mai, Thailand with my local church. We visited local dormitories where families sent their kids for education during the school term. When I witnessed the existing dorm and housing conditions and their susceptibility to harsh weather, it broke my heart. I became determined to progress my skills as an engineer to be of help to those in need. It would be a dream to be able to use my skills to have a positive impact on my local community and beyond.
E: My dream project would be one that joins two adjacent buildings via a pedestrian bridge. My senior design project at UCI was a reinforced concrete box girder bridge, and since then it has been one of my goals to work on a real bridge project, even something small-scale like a pedestrian bridge.
What’s been the most rewarding experience you’ve had in your career?
H: I must say that the most rewarding part of the job is seeing all the components in a building come together from the conceptual, construction phases and finally to building occupancy. Every project is so unique, and it is rewarding to see all the hard work from all parties involved that result in an end product that we can all be proud of.
E: I spent a number of weeks developing a computer model of the Plummer Auditorium in Fullerton with the program RAM Structural System. The model is quite complex and required the creation of over twenty-five “stories” to account for elevation changes, even though in reality the building is only two stories. It was very rewarding when the model successfully ran in the analysis program!
How do you see technology playing a part in the future of structural engineering?
H: Technology has certainly come a long way. We have immense engineering software capabilities in the office and use Building Information Modeling (BIM) tools. I am excited for the continued efforts and research in understanding seismology and its effect on structures better. It is also interesting to see how building codes adapt to new technology—pushing the limits on current boundaries toward new possibilities. Maybe we will get to see a new, redefining building material type develop within the 21st century.
E: I think technology will continue to improve coordination between structural engineers, architects and contractors and steadily decrease the time required to go from design to construction. Improvements in BIM in particular will help designs become reality much more efficiently.
What do you enjoy most about working at KNA Structural Engineers?
H: It has been a privilege to be a part of K-12 projects with KNA. Education is important in our society and is often a vehicle for students to discover their interests and passions in life alongside classmates and great teachers. It is truly rewarding to know I am involved in providing a safe, enjoyable and pleasant space for students and faculty to learn and grow.
E: The people! This is my first full-time job, and everyone has been incredibly welcoming, friendly and helpful as I’ve transitioned into my role here.
Tell us something about yourself that we don’t know:
H: I once spent an entire night standing in line for seats to Saturday Night Live in New York during the bitter winter. I was there from 11:00 pm until 7 a.m. the next morning. Although I was ready to give up about two hours in, I was so relieved to have battled through the cold. Attending the show in-person was priceless! I highly recommend the experience to all big SNL fans!
E: I can juggle!