The Structural Engineers Foundation is an independent, non-profit charitable organization dedicated to one goal: the advancement of structural engineering. To attain this goal, and thus prepare for tomorrow's horizons, the SEF has committed itself to sponsoring and funding scholarships, lectures, awards, publications and research - all aimed at improving structural engineers and structural engineering.

Read the Corporate Membership Letter, and download the Response Form to support SEF today!

Thanks to our 2016 Executive Members:









And to our Affiliate Member: 



SEF Board of Directors

James Pawlikowski, President
Nihar Shah, Vice President
James Hauck, Treasurer
Adam G. Theiss, Secretary
David Nickell, SEAOI President-Elect
Andrew Keaschall
Jeremy Kirk
John Viise
Chelsea Zdawczyk


SEF Scholarship Awards

The Foundation strongly believes that the future of structural engineering depends on today's students. Without them and their vision, there literally is no future for our profession. The Structural Engineers Foundation is privileged to provide merit-based tuition scholarships to encourage undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in structural engineering programs. 

Four scholarship categories are available:

  • Undergraduate engineering scholarship, for students who will be entering the third or above year of an undergraduate program during the 2017-2018 academic year.
  • Graduate engineering scholarship, intended for students who will be entering or continuing a graduate program during the 2017-2018 academic year.
  • Max Zar Scholarship, awarded to an outstanding student pursuing his or her engineering studies in the State of Illinois
  • Rubinos-Mesia Scholarship, named for Teresa Mesia Rubinos and Jacinto Rubinos, awarded to an outstanding engineering student of Hispanic descent.


SEF is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2017–18 Scholarship Awards.

The Undergraduate Scholarship is awarded to Matthew Carsello of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Matt is the Publicity Chair for the ASCE Student Chapter, and the Ecuador Water Proejct Lead for the UIUC Chapter of Engineers Without Borders. Assistant Professor Frank Lombardo notes Matt’s “solid technical background and skills” as well as his commitment to service. Matt writes, “I am incredibly grateful to be the recipient of the Structural Engineers Foundation Undergraduate Scholarship… I will be able to dedicate more energy and effort as a leader in my activities, organizations, and research to try and connect with as many aspiring and professional engineers as I can to help build the community around me into a better place.” 


The Graduate Scholarship is awarded to Kate Cuddington of Stanford University. Kate was recognized as the SWE Outstanding Woman in Engineering & Technology in 2017, and served on the College of Architecture & Environmental Design Strategic Core Planning Committee. Professor Allen Estes, department head for Cal Poly Architectural Engineering, enthusiastically described Kate as “a highly intelligent and dedicated scholar who has been involved win many activities beyond academics to include humanitarian aid, college ambassador, and leadership in our most active SEAOC student club.” Kate writes, “I am so honored to have been selected as the 2017 SEF Graduate Scholarship recipient...I will be able to create a focus for my degree, by taking courses in seismic retrofitting and rehabilitation… [which]will allow me to contribute substantively to solving problems, creating innovative solutions, designing with aesthetic value, and helping people improve the safety and quality of their lives.” 


The Max Zar Scholarship (open to students attending Illinois universities) is awarded to Joseluis Alvarez of the University of Illinois at Chicago. Joseluis is a member of SEAOI, ASCE, ACI, and AISC, and is currently interning at WJE’s Chicago office. Clinical Associate Professor Mustafa Mahamid praises Joseluis as “one of the few students that are interested in the larger picture, always working hard and exceeding the expectation of his professors.” Joseluis writes, “I cannot express the depth of gratitude I have to the SEF for making these scholarships possible. As a young engineer, the start of my career is full of excitement and with the aid provided by this scholarship I am able to facilitate my learning objectives both in graduate school and at work… I can assure that programs like this successfully encourage students with a passion for structural engineering to better themselves as engineers and better the practice of this profession overall.” 


The Rubinos and Mesia Scholarship (open to students of Hispanic descent) is awarded to Daniel Gaspar-Rodriguez of the University of California – Berkeley. Daniel is the recipient of the Fulbright Garcia-Robles International Grant, among others. Professor Jack P. Moehle, Chair in Structural Engineering, gave his highest recommendations, stating: “I strongly believe that Daniel will make the most out of the valuable resource that this grant represents, enabling him to focus fully on his project… and preparing him for additional coursework and the preparation of journal publications on his research findings in the following semesters.” Daniel writes, “I am deeply honored to have been selected as the recipient of this prestigious award. This scholarship will allow me to devote myself to the research I'm conducting at UC Berkeley…As practicing structural engineers, we only get to be graduate students for a brief moment. It’s funny how we gain exposure to the most complete sources of information during this short period of time, even if we are still too young and unexperienced to fully grasp their value. Therefore, I thank the Structural Engineering Foundation for giving me the opportunity to stick around a little longer until I find the right questions to ask of all the amazing experts and academics that surround me.” 


SEF Research Grant

The Structural Engineers Foundation (SEF) is proud to offer a grant to partially fund research efforts in the structural engineering or related fields for the 2016-2017 academic year.  The SEF recognizes the importance of research to the future of the structural engineering field and profession, and offers this grant to provide assistance in a selected research endeavor.  The offered grant is a one-time, fixed sum of $2500. 

Congratulations to Alok Deshpande, Recipient of the 2016-2017 Research Grant!

Alok Deshpande completed his undergraduate education in Civil Engineering from the College of Engineering, Pune (India) in 2010, and earned a Master’s degree in Civil Engineering, with a specialization in Structural Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2011. Immediately following graduate school, he started working at Leslie E. Robertson Associates (LERA) in New York and Mumbai, where I worked on the design of tall and supertall buildings in Mumbai. From 2014 to 2015, he was a project officer at the Structural Engineering Laboratory at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, where he worked on the development of a book and tools to perform improved nonlinear analysis and design of reinforced concrete buildings. Currently, he is pursuing a PhD in Structural and Earthquake Engineering at the University at Buffalo, where he studies the seismic behavior of reinforced concrete walls that have been subjected to elevated temperatures. Mr. Deshpande's research interests are in analysis and design of reinforced concrete structures, earthquake engineering and advanced concrete materials.

Polymer fiber-reinforced concretes demonstrate better mechanical behavior than conventional concretes at ambient conditions. More recent studies have demonstrated that this improvement also extends to increased durability and better fire resistance. However, owing to a lack of systematic studies targeting the bond behavior of such materials with rebar at elevated temperatures, it is not clear whether the improved behavior of such materials extends to an improved bond performance at both ambient and elevated temperatures. An experimental program has been designed to study this topic at two scales – material and member. Pullout tests of rebar embedded in concrete cylinders and flexure tests of rectangular concrete beams will be executed to obtain data and study bond-slip behavior. The goal of the project is to develop a simple expression to account for the reduction in bond strength with increasing temperature, suitable for inclusion in design codes. Different mixes of conventional and fiber-reinforced concretes (made using polymer and steel fibers) will be studied. The study will supplement the project team’s ongoing efforts to study the effect of elevated temperature on the performance of reinforced concrete components.




The Foundation strongly believes that the future of structural engineering depends on today's students. Without them and their vision, there literally is no future for our profession. The Structural Engineers Foundation is privileged to provide merit tuition scholarships to encourage undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in structural engineering programs. 

Sponsored Lectures

The Structural Engineers Foundation sponsors lectures in April and November designed to broaden the mind and heighten awareness of excellence in structural engineering. Foundation-sponsored lectures by prominent leaders in the field of structural engineering keep attendees informed with vital cutting-edge information.


SEF bestows awards and honors to recognize outstanding achievements. The John F. Parmer Award is presented annually by SEF and SEAOI. This award, in recognition of lifelong contributions in the field of structural engineering, is presented to an individual whose distinguished career is acknowledged by his or her peers to be an example of excellence.


SEF understands the importance of research, knowing that it advances our profession by broadening its horizons and expanding our knowledge base. The Foundation offers grants to support graduate and post-graduate research projects. 

James J. Pawlikowski, President

Position: Associate Director, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, LLP

Education: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, M.S. Architecture (Structures Option)

Licensure: S.E., Illinois; LEED

Societies: SEAOI, CCHRB, ASCE,

Nihar Shar, Vice President

Position: Senior Engineer, RME, Inc.

Education: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, B.S. Civil Engineering, M.S. Civil Engineering

Licensure: P.E., Illinois

Societies: SEAOI, ASCE

Adam G. Theiss , Secretary

Position: Associate, Magnusson Klemencic Associates

Education: University of Washington, M.S. Civil Engineering; Lawrence University B.A. Physics; Washington University in St. Louis, B.S. Civil Engineering

Licensure: S.E., Illinois; P.E., California

Societies: SEAOI

David Nickell (SEAOI President-Elect)

Position: Principal, TGRWA, LLC 

Education: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, B.S.C.E.; M.S.C.E. 

Licensure: S.E., Illinois

Societies: SEAOI, AISC   

Andrew J. Keaschall

Position: Vice President: Structural Group Manager, Alfred Benesch and Company

Education: University of Illinois, B.S. Civil Engineering, M.S. Civil Engineering

Licensure: S.E., Illinois; P.E., Illinois, IA, NE, IN


Jeremy Kirk

Position: Project Engineer, Forefront Structural Engineers

Education: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, M.Eng.; Geneva College, B.S.E.

Licensure: S.E., Illinois; P.E., Illinois

Societies: SEAOI, ASCE

John Viise

Position: Associate Principal, Thornton Tomasetti

Education: University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, M.S. Civil Engineering; Virginia Tech, B.S. Mechanical Engineering

Licensure: S.E., Illinois; P.E., Illinois, SCEng, MIStructE, LEED AP

Societies: SEAOI, ASCE, ACI, IStructE

Chelsea Zdawczyk

Position: Senior Structural Engineer, Arup

Education: Cornell University, B.S. Civil Engineering; UCLA, M. Arch.; Princeton University, M.S. Structural Engineering

Licensure: P.E., Illinois

Societies: SEAOI, ASCE