November/December 2012
Association News

Leslie R. Driskell

Leslie R. (Les) Driskell of Mt. Lebanon, Penn., died on 5 November. Born in 1916  to a family of very modest means in Louisville, Ky., he achieved international prominence as an instrument engineer, consultant, author, and teacher specializing in control valves and industrial process control systems.

Dropping out of the University of Louisville after one year for financial reasons, Driskell worked at various clerical jobs during the Depression and eventually became a technician at Seagram-Calvert Distilleries while also taking correspondence courses in what was then a new field, industrial process control.

During the war, Driskell worked for DuPont and was deferred from military service because he was supervising all instrumentation at the corporation's $45-million plant manufacturing synthetic rubber, which was vital for the war effort. He also taught night courses in industrial instrumentation for Purdue University, sponsored by the U.S. War Training Program.

After the war, Driskell moved his family to Pittsburgh. After answering a blind ad in the ISA Journal, he began working for Blaw-Knox Construction. This eventually became the Chem Plants division of Dravo Corporation. While at Dravo, he began writing articles for engineering magazines. These led to offers to teach and consult, as well as work on standards and practices committees of what was then the Instrument Society of America (ISA). Driskell served as chair, ISA Standards & Practices Committee, from 1967-88; chair, Final Control Elements Committee, from 1957-66; president, ISA Pittsburgh Section, from 1954-55; and director, ISA Louisville Section, in 1947. In 1968, he received the Instrumentation Technology Award and was named ISA Fellow. Driskell received the Chet Beard Final Control Elements Award in 1983 and the ISA Pittsburgh Section Award in 1992. By the '70s, he was heading Dravo's 100-man instrument-electrical engineering department.

Driskell authored four textbooks and co-authored four others, all on control valves, wrote over 40 published articles, lectured extensively and taught more than 100 short courses in the U.S. and internationally-including Canada, Kuwait, Venezuela, Mexico, Norway, the Netherlands, and Japan-and developed an equation for the flow of compressible fluids through valves that became an international standard.

Driskell retired from Dravo to begin a 20-year career as a consulting engineer. Clients included nearly two-dozen engineering corporations in the U.S. and abroad. He frequently served as an expert witness in court cases involving critical control equipment at mills, power plants, and chemical plants.

E. Ross Forman

Edgar Ross Forman of Erdenheim, Penn., died on 29 October. Born in Camden in 1923, he was a mechanical professional engineer and a pioneer in automated systems and control engineering.

Forman was active for many years in MathCounts, an outreach program of the National Society of Professional Engineers. He was also a former president of the NSPE Valley Forge Chapter. He authored numerous papers, trade journal articles, and chapters in major books for the industry on Chemical Engineering Control Systems.

Forman was the only president of the ISA Philadelphia Section who served a year-and-a-half term, due to the change in their fiscal year, and served as District 2 vice president, as well as vice president of the Industries and Science Department. As chairman of the Education Committee of what was then the Instrument Society of America (ISA), he initiated the Philadelphia Plan of coordinating courses leading to certification. Forman served as a member of the industrial visitation team to China. He developed the "Old Shoe Award" to honor salesmen in the industry, as well as founding the Outstanding Tech Award. A Fellow of the Society, Forman received the following awards: District 2 Service, Donald P. Eckman for education, Golden Achievement, and Outstanding Service.