Control Systems Design and Troubleshooting

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PE / CSE - Professional Engineer / Control Systems Engineer

PE / CSE Requirements and Documentation

Control systems engineering (CSE) is a branch of professional engineering,
requiring an understanding of the science of instrumentation and automatic
control of dynamic processes. The ability to apply knowledge to planning,
design, development, operation, and the evaluation of the control systems
to ensure the safety and practical operability of such processes is a must.

ISA supports the Control Systems Engineer (CSE) License, a specialized
Professional Engineering (PE) license recognized in the United States for
engineers in automation and control. The CSE examination includes some
elements of electrical, mechanical, chemical, and other branches of the
engineering disciplines. The CSE/PE exam is offered in October only.

Visit the ISA (International Society of Automation) website:

Free Video Review Course to accompany the PE / CSE Study Guide below

Click on Book
For the PE/CSE Exam Review Course

Qualifications and Experience

ISA's Support of the CSE License Program:
  • Sets the standard for the automation professional.
  • Promotes safety and improves productivity.
  • Establishes your professional credentials.
  • Prepares you for additional job responsibilities.
  • Improves ROI by impacting mission critical decisions.
  • Proves that you're an automation leader.

To qualify to become a PE / CSE:
  • You must meet minimum requirements for work experience and education.
  • You must pass a multiple choice exam.

Individuals seeking the PE designation, in their respective states, usually:
  • Hold four-year engineering, technology or science degree from an approved institution (verify state requirements). And
  • Have a minimum of four years of experience (foreign degrees usually require 6 years and an ABET equivalent degree evaluation).
  • In some states an ABET Technology degree is not accepted. See the CAP examination for Certification in control systems and automation.
  • Pass both the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) and Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) Examinations

States Offering the PE / CSE License:
  • Most states in the United States offer the CSE examination as one of the Professional Engineers (PE) licensing exams. The following states do NOT offer the CSE examination: Alaska, Hawaii, and Rhode Island. Contact your state board for the specific requirements for your state.
  • In most states the Professional Engineer (PE) can "Stamp" or practice in any discipline he or she is qualified.
  • Note: Some states are discipline specific. The Professional Engineer (PE) can only practice in one discipline.

Specifications for CSE Examinations Effective Beginning with the October 2019:

  • The National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) provides the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) examination in Control Systems Engineering (CSE). The CSE examination is a multiple-choice exam.
  • The exam is an 8-hour open-book exam. It contains 40 multiple-choice questions in the 4-hour morning session, and 40 multiple-choice questions in the 4-hour afternoon session. Examinee works all questions.
  • The exam uses both the International System of units (SI) and the US Customary System (USCS).
  • The exam is developed with questions that will require a variety of approaches and methodologies, including design, analysis, and application.
  • The knowledge areas specified as examples of kinds of knowledge are not exclusive or exhaustive categories.

Not qualified for the PE / CSE License:

Try the CAP® (Certified Automation Professional) certification Examination.

Have not taken the FE / EIT (Fundamentals of Engineering) exam:

Take a look at what it takes to be and EIT (Engineer In Training)

Click on Book
Get this material at the NCEES

The PE / CSE Exam is Now CBT (Computer Based Testing)

Starting 2022 the PE exam is Computer Based Testing offered in October Only:
  • Goto the NCEES website
  • Create a login for the MYNCEES account
  • Click on view Reference Handbooks to choose your FREE handbook.
  • Important: Now NO books are allowed in the PE CBT exam. Reference handbook will be on the computer.
  • Click on Exam Prep to purchase the 8 hour Practice Exam book
  • You do not have to sign up for the exam to get the books!
  • Do not use a school email address to sign up for your MYNCEES acount.

PE / CSE - NCEES - Examination Specifications 2022 (same as 2019)

Click here to visit the NCEES (National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying) website to register for the PE exam

NCEES Professional Engineer - Control Systems Engineer exam 2022 Specifications
Specification Area - 85 questions total in 8.5 hours and 50 minute lunch Questions
on the Exam
I Measurement
  1. Sensors
    1. Sensor technologies applicable to general measurement (e.g., flow, pressure, level, temperature, analytical, counters and motion)
    2. Sensor technologies applicable to general analytical instruments and sampling systems (e.g., pH, ORP, density, O2, conductivity, effects of sampling systems, GC)
    3. Sensor technologies applicable to fire and gas detection
    4. Sensor technologies applicable to machinery monitoring and protection (e.g. ,vibration, bearing temperature, lube oil pressures, thrust, speed)
    5. Sensor characteristics (e.g., rangeability, accuracy and precision, temperature effects, response times, reliability, repeatability, maintenance, calibration)
    6. Sensor selection (e.g., plugging service, process severity, environmental effects and constraints, costs)
    7. Material compatibility
    8. Installation details (e.g., process, pneumatic, electrical, location, maintenance, calibration)

  3. Flow, Level, and Pressure Calculations
    1. Flow (e.g., element sizing, pressure-temperature compensation, mass/volume)
    2. Level
    3. Pressure Drop

  4. General Calculations
    1. Unit conversions
    2. Velocity
    3. Square root extraction and interpolation
    4. Variables involved in wake frequency calculations (e.g., thermowell length/diameter, velocity, natural frequency, wake frequency)
II   Control Systems
  1. Drawings
    1. Drawings (e.g., process flow diagrams, P&IDs, loop diagrams, ladder diagrams, logic drawings, cause and effects drawings, electrical drawings, schematics, wiring diagrams)
  2. Theory
    1. Basic control of processes (e.g., pumps, compression, combustion, evaporation, distillation, hydraulics, reaction, dehydration, heat exchangers, crystallization, filtration, refrigeration, fluidization)
    2. Process dynamics (e.g., loop response, pressure-volume-temperature relationships, simulations)
    3. Basic control (e.g., regulatory control, feedback, feedforward, cascade, ratio, PID, split-range, gap control)
    4. Discrete control (e.g., relay logic, Boolean algebra, aliasing)
    5. Sequential control (e.g., batch, assembly, conveying, CNC, state machine, sequential function chart)
  3. Implementation
    1. HMI (e.g., graphics, alarm management, trending, historical data, operator panels)
    2. Equipment layout (e.g., human factors engineering, physical control room arrangement, panel layout)
    3. Limited variability programming languages for DCS and PLC
      (e.g., IEC 61131-3 languages/ladder diagrams, function blocks, sequential function charts, structured text, instruction list)
    4. System design comparisons and compatibilities (e.g., advantages and disadvantages of system architecture, distributed architecture, remote I/O, buses, wireless)
    5. Installation requirements (e.g., shielding, constructability, I/O termination, environmental, heat load calculations, power load requirements, purging, lighting, maintainability)
    6. System testing (e.g., factory acceptance test, integrated system test, site acceptance test)
    7. Performance evaluation (e.g., troubleshooting, root cause failure analysis and correction)
  4. Security of Industrial Automation and Control Systems - 2 Questions
    1. Security (e.g., physical, cyber, network, firewalls, routers, switches, protocols, hubs, segregation, access controls))
    2. Security lifecycle (e.g., assessment, controls, audit, management of change)
    3. Requirements for a security management system
    4. Security risk assessment and system design
    5. Product development and requirements
    6. Verification of security levels (e.g., level 1, level 2)
III   Final Control Elements
  1. Valves
    1. Types (e.g., globe, ball, butterfly)
    2. Trim characteristics (e.g., linear, low noise, equal percentage, seat leakage class)
    3. Calculation (e.g., sizing, split range, noise, actuator, response time, pressure drop, air/gas consumption)
    4. Selection of motive power and failure mode (e.g., hydraulic, pneumatic, electric, spring)
    5. Applications of fluid dynamics (e.g., cavitation, flashing, choked flow, Joule-Thompson effects, two-phase)
    6. Material selection based on process characteristics (e.g., erosion, corrosion, plug, extreme pressure, temperature, material compatibility)
    7. Accessories (e.g., limit switches, solenoid valves, positioners, transducers, air regulators, servo amp, boosters, quick exhaust)
    8. Environmental constraints (e.g., fugitive emissions, packing, special sealing, fire rating)
    9. Installation practices (e.g., vertical, horizontal, bypasses, location, flow direction)
  2. Pressure Relieving Devices
    1. Pressure relieving valve types (e.g., conventional spring, balanced bellows, pilot operated)
    2. Pressure relieving valve characteristics (e.g., modulating, pop action)
    3. Pressure relieving valve calculations (e.g., sizing considering inlet pressure drop, back pressure, multiple valves)
    4. Material selection based on process characteristics
    5. Pressure relieving valve installation practices (e.g., linking valves, sparing the valves, accessibility for testing, car sealing inlet valves, piping installation, combination devices)
    6. Rupture discs and buckling pin valves (e.g., types, characteristics, application, calculations)
  3. Motor Controls
    1. Types (e.g., motor starters, variable-speed drives)
    2. Applications (e.g., speed control, soft starters, motor-operated valve actuators)
    3. Calculations (e.g., sizing, tuning, location)
    4. Accessories (e.g., encoders, positioners, relays, limit switches)
  4. Other Final Control Elements
    1. Motion (e.g., damper controls, types, orientation, actuators, servos , encoders)
    2. Solenoid valves (e.g., types, sizing)
    3. On-off devices/relays (e.g., types, applications, energize and de-energize to trip)
    4. Self-regulating devices (e.g., types, sizing, pressure, temperature, level, and flow regulators)
IV   Signals, Transmission, and Networking
  1. Signals
    1. Pneumatic, electronic, optical, hydraulic, digital, analog, buses, wireless, thermocouple
    2. Transducers (e.g., analog/digital [A/D], digital/analog [D/A], current/ pneumatic [I/P] conversion, current/current [I/I], splitters, filters)
    3. Hazardous area classification and instrument installation techniques (e.g., intrinsically safe [IS] barriers, cabinet purges, non-incendive)
    4. Grounding, shielding, segregation, electromagnetic interference
    5. Basic signal circuit design (e.g., two-wire, four-wire, isolated outputs, loop powering, buses)
    6. Circuit calculations (voltage, current, impedance, power)
    7. Unit conversion calculations
  2. Transmission
    1. Different communication systems architecture and protocols (e.g., fiber optics, coaxial cable, wireless, paired conductors, buses, transmission control protocol/internet protocol [TCP/IP], OPC)
    2. Distance considerations versus transmission medium (e.g., data rates, sample rates)
  3. Networking
    1. Routers, bridges, switches, firewalls, gateways, network loading, error checking, bandwidth, crosstalk, parity, hubs
V   Safety Systems
  1. Documentation
    1. Basic documentation required (e.g., process hazards analysis, safety requirements specification [SRS], logic diagrams/narratives, test procedures, SIL selection report, SIL verification report, safety lifecycle plan)
  2. Theory
    1. Reliability and availability (e.g., bathtub curve, failure rates types, voting, proof test intervals, common cause and diversity)
    2. SIL selection (e.g., safety layer matrix, risk graph, LOPA)
  3. Implementation
    1. Safety system design (e.g., SRS, I/O assignments, redundancy, segregation, logic design, failure direction)
    2. SIL verification calculations (e.g., failure rates types, voting, proof test intervals, common cause and diversity)
    3. Installation, commissioning, and validation (e.g., methods, procedures, test records)
  4. Safety Lifecycle Management
    1. . Modifications (e.g., management of change, scope of change, impact of change, documentation)
    2. Operations and maintenance (e.g., methods, procedures, test records, partial stroke testing, demand tracking, bypass and override management, failure analysis, validation of design assumptions)
  Total   85

The Control Systems Online Training Courses:

Purchase Control Systems Certification Exam Study Guides
from the web site:

CAP Certified Automation Professional® (CAP®) Program

Working in process automation and manufacturing automation industries around the globe, CAPs are responsible for the direction, definition, design, development/application, deployment, documentation, and support of systems, software, and equipment used in control systems, manufacturing information systems, systems integration, and operational consulting.

CAPs are an elite group of automation professionals that have proven they possess an extensive knowledge of automation and controls. CAPs have documented evidence that they possess the expertise and qualifications to excel in their fields 


ISA Certified Control Systems Technician® (CCST®) Program

Working in dozens of different industries worldwide, CCSTs calibrate, document, troubleshoot, and repair/replace instrumentation for systems that measure and control level, temperature, pressure, flow, and other process variables. Many companies prefer candidates with a CCST certification because they can trust their documented knowledge of automation and control systems.



ISA supports the Control Systems Engineer (CSE) License, a specialized Professional Engineering (PE) license recognized in the United States for engineers in automation and control. ISA offers training courses and review materials to help engineers prepare for the exams, which are offered by state boards in the US in October

ISA and NCEES recommended material for the CSE: Control Systems Engineering Exam Reference Manual: A Practical Study Guide, 4th Edition. Which cover the material and the knowledge requirements of the NCEES exam specifications, to be able to pass the CSE examination.

Meet the author Bryon Lewis, PE of the book: Control Systems Engineering Exam Reference Manual: A Practical Study Guide, 3rd Edition.