Susan Chang, Ph. D., P. E.
Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections
Susan Chang, Ph. D., P. E., Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections, has been selected as the recipient of the 2022 Government Engineer of the Year Award in recognition of her exceptional career as a geotechnical earthquake engineer, her innovative work in developing design guidelines for considering earthquake ground motions in high-rise buildings, and her leadership in revising the state building code. She possesses a unique combination of technical expertise, team leadership abilities, and communication skills as well as experience in the public sector, private sector, and academia.
Currently serving as the Geotechnical Engineering Group Supervisor for the Department of Construction and Inspections, she oversees geotechnical peer reviews of high-rise building designs. As part of the review process, she noticed that amplification of earthquake ground motions by the Seattle sedimentary basin was not being considered in high-rise building designs. To address the issue, she convened a workshop of engineers and seismologists to develop recommendations for the city. The result was a methodology for incorporating basin response in ground motion estimation. This methodology has been adopted by Seattle and Bellevue, the Washington State Building Code, and the International Building Code. She worked with the Seattle Office of Emergency Management to develop an updated landslide map with digital records of landslides that have occurred within the city since the late 1800s. Access to this historic landslide information benefits engineers, property owners, and the general public.
In addition to her engineering contributions, she recently completed a four-year term as a councilmember for the City of Shoreline. In this role, she has brought her engineering mindset, policy-making expertise, and compassion to city government, enhancing the public’s perception of the role of engineers and women in government