Driving Innovation in Structural Engineering: Degenkolb’s Applied Technology Team 

Structural engineering and technology are building the future from the ground up. Degenkolb Engineers’ Applied Technology Team (ATT), led by Insung Kim and comprised of eight core members throughout the firm, is a key part of our organization and our commitment to leveraging technology and driving value through innovation for our clients and projects.

Embracing Technology for Progress

ATT is not just another group invested in technology; it is the impetus behind the integration of innovative advancements into many facets of structural engineering. From AI development to vibration consulting, the group strives to enhance efficiency and deliver unparalleled value to its clients.

The team was formed with several guiding principles which include:

  • Coordinate and collaborate closely to identify technology needs and provide tailored solutions. ​
  • Augment existing services and develop new services.


Augmenting Services, Enhancing Value

What sets ATT apart is its unwavering commitment to excellence ingrained in every aspect of its operations. Ideas are generated not top-down but bottom-up from across the firm and beyond the core group to allow them to “be uniquely and constructively disruptive,” Insung adds.

“We are augmenting existing services and developing new services to provide enhanced value to our clients—and in doing so are providing value beyond typical expectations for a structural engineering firm.”  – Insung Kim, Director of Engineering Technology

Ideas for new investigations and development come from across the company.  Ideas may start with a simple internal request form; through the firm’s Innovation Hub process; or from its various Practice Areas and Working Groups. This method of idea generation effectively crowdsources the needs of our clients and project managers seeking efficient, value-based solutions.

Projects undertaken so far by the team include:

  • Vibration consulting service
  • Non-structural bracing anchorage design tool and drawing automation
  • Implementation of OpenSees for nonlinear analysis
  • Design iteration and optimization tool
  • NPC/SPC project management tool
  • AI-powered earthquake reconnaissance photo database
  • AI-powered building inventory seismic evaluation tool


From Concept to Reality: The Power of AI

Early on, ATT became a home for the firm’s developing use of AI.  A culmination of insights gathered from ATT team members Pearl Ranchal and Daniel Gaspar, as well as others across the firm helped recognize the potential for AI to augment our existing expertise. Through extensive collaboration and a commitment to understanding client needs, ATT embarked on a journey to harness the power of AI.

One example is leveraging AI for seismic performance prediction when handling seismic inventory or portfolio evaluation. With extensive experience across California, Degenkolb has undertaken ASCE 41 Tier 1 evaluations for around 2,700 buildings. Insights gleaned from these assessments have been pivotal in crafting machine learning algorithms to forecast a building’s adherence to ASCE 41’s Life Safety performance standards across various seismic risk levels. This AI-driven strategy not only presents avenues for meeting building codes but also offers predictive assessments of potential damage. Moreover, our expertise extends to simulating scenarios for parametric insurance payouts post-earthquakes of varying intensities and locations. This isn’t merely about innovation; it’s a profound shift in how we approach structural engineering tasks, benefiting both clients and industry partners.

Looking Ahead: The ATT Vision

One of the core activities of the ATT is to educate Degenkolb staff on the power of its tools and the impending changes to the field through technological enhancement.  ATT members make rounds to various internal meetings to talk about activities and garner feedback.

Members of ATT recognize the symbiotic relationship between technology and client needs and use that understanding to shape the future of the field and the firm’s offerings. By centralizing technical activities, fostering collaboration, and staying true to its core values, ATT continues to lead the charge towards a future where technology is not just a tool but a cornerstone of progress in the industry.