Feedback: PE and CAP

Jan. 9, 2009
CAP vs. PE

PE and CAP
As someone who is both a PE and CAP, and an advocate for both programs, I applaud Control for bringing light to the subject. Paul Darnbrough concisely explains the two programs. However, I want to point out that Mr. Darnbrough’s discussion of Control Systems Engineering as a “Title Act” registration applies to California, not all states.

I am licensed in Delaware, and there the distinctions between Practice act and Title act disciplines do not exist. The law there gives me authority to seal drawings and sign reports, but my ability to do so is limited by the Code of Ethics:


A. The engineer shall undertake to perform engineering only when qualified by education or experience in the areas of professional engineering involved.

B. The engineer may accept an assignment requiring education or experience outside his areas of competence, provided that such areas will be performed by a Professional Engineer or otherwise qualified associates, consultants or employees. He may then sign and seal the documents for the total project. The engineer shall not affix his seal to any such document not prepared under his supervisory control and review.” (Delaware Association of Professional Engineers Code of Ethics, July 2005).

This means that in a typical drawing packet, I would be “safe” to seal the “I” drawings—P&IDs, loop diagrams, etc., but would exceed my authority to sign and seal others, unless I was taking overall responsibility for work performed by qualified engineers in other disciplines.

In Delaware, the Code of Ethics places the responsibility for determining competence on the PE, and sadly, the disciplinary records I have seen suggest this approach gives some PEs enough rope to hang themselves.
CAP can be a useful way for PEs of other disciplines to both verify to themselves their competence in controls and to demonstrate that controls fall within their area of competence. 

I am proud to claim both titles. I would encourage all in our field to seek both.

B. Kluck, PE,
Clifton, N.J.

Who Can Seal What?
In the CAP vs PE article, the author states that Control Systems PE is a title act and that persons with this PE cannot sign (or seal I presume) documents and drawings. Where is this spelled out? Is it only true in certain states or across the board? If true, how are Control Systems documents that need sealing supposed to be handled? Are you recommending that every Control Systems PE who needs to sign or seal documents should also get a PE in one of the practice acts?

Michael Deady
Shaw Energy & Chemicals Group
Cambridge, Mass.

Paul Darnbrough responds:
Upon review, I see that the final three paragraphs of the “To PE or Not to PE” section should have been prefaced with the words, “In California, for instance ....” California has a Business and Professions Code section called the Professional Engineers Act that defines PEs, the practice and the sealing/stamping of civil, electrical and mechanical engineering, and the titles of PEs.” has a general overview with links to the details. As mentioned earlier in the article, PE licensing is state-specific.

The URL for Invensys Process systems was incorrectly named in the November article, “Carving Up Security.” It should be  

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