ISA Interchange

Welcome to the official blog of the International Society of Automation (ISA).

This blog covers numerous topics on industrial automation such as operations & management, continuous & batch processing, connectivity, manufacturing & machine control, and Industry 4.0.

The material and information contained on this website is for general information purposes only. ISA blog posts may be authored by ISA staff and guest authors from the automation community. Views and opinions expressed by a guest author are solely their own, and do not necessarily represent those of ISA. Posts made by guest authors have been subject to peer review.

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Licensure, ISA Turning 75, and the 2019 Annual Leadership Conference

On 14-16 August, I attended the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) meeting in Washington, D.C. Over 550 people from licensing boards and various participating organizations (such as ISA) attended. In many ways, their annual meeting is similar to our Annual Leadership Conference.

The delegate meeting lasted 1.5 days (our leader meeting lasts only a half day), covered many more items, and drew a larger audience. Many proposed motions were included and accepted in a default ballot. Other items were discussed and voted on individually and some passed with little discussion or opposition, while some were debated on further and did not pass. During this meeting, I met leaders of professional societies of all sizes. All have concerns regarding licensure and regulation, hence their membership with NCEES and attendance at this meeting.


Concerns over licensure

Many lawmakers are taking steps to weaken or eliminate occupational licensing laws across the country. Some believe that licensure limits business growth and competition. Unfortunately, these bills often make no distinction for highly complex, technical professions, resulting in the licensure of engineers being dragged into the fray. A consumer can verify the qualifications of a doctor or lawyer before obtaining their services. However, the same cannot be said of an engineer. How does one know that the high-rise building you are working in, the bridge you are driving across, or the plane you are flying in were designed by qualified engineers? Consumers often do not have the specialized knowledge needed to evaluate the qualifications and performance of these systems. These examples significantly impact the health, safety, and welfare of the public.

Enter the Alliance for Responsible Professional Licensing (ARPL). ARPL is a coalition of national associations representing complex technical professions. Their goal is to lead with responsible licensing models that ensure the education, experience, and testing necessary to protect the public. To learn more about this organization, please visit

ISA turns 75 next year!

In 1945, more than a dozen individual, regional instrumentation societies decided to band together for the greater good into one single organization—the Instrument Society of America (ISA). Civilization, industry, and technology have evolved substantially in the past 74 years, and our Society has changed in response, including changing our name to reflect a broader geographic and technical focus. We will celebrate our 75th anniversary in 2020 by reviewing our heritage and looking forward to the future of the automation profession.

Eric Cosman will be the Society president next year. He has assembled a committee of volunteers and staff to plan commemorative activities and events throughout the year. We will share more detailed information as it becomes available, beginning at the Annual Leadership Conference in San Diego. We encourage all sections, districts, and departments to help us celebrate.

Attend the Annual Leadership Conference in San Diego, Oct. 25-28

The 2019 Annual Leadership Conference will take place at the end of October in San Diego, Calif. If you are currently an ISA volunteer leader in any capacity, or you are thinking of becoming one, please attend this meeting. There will be an orientation for new leaders, leader training sessions, business meetings, an awards gala, and even a party on the beach! The more you know about the Society, and the more leaders you meet and build into your network, the more effective you will become. 

Would you like to attend the 2019 Annual Leadership Conference in San Diego? Click this link to get more information about the event, location and lodging information, special events and corporate sponsorship opportunities. 

Paul Gruhn
Paul Gruhn
Paul Gruhn is a global functional safety consultant at AE Solutions and a highly respected and awarded safety expert in the industrial automation and control field. Paul is an ISA Fellow, a member of the ISA84 standards committee (on safety instrumented systems), a developer and instructor of ISA courses on safety systems, and the primary author of the ISA book Safety Instrumented Systems: Design, Analysis, and Justification. He also has contributed to several automation industry book chapters and has written more than two dozen technical articles. He developed the first commercial safety system modeling software. Paul is a licensed Professional Engineer (PE) in Texas, a certified functional safety expert (CFSE), a member of the control system engineer PE exam team, and an ISA84 expert. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology. Paul is the 2018 ISA president-elect/secretary.

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