• Posted on Apr 9, 2020

Year 2019 saw ISEE well positioned on sound financial footing and stable membership. The Society had enough managed scholarship funds to allow 34 students to receive scholarships to the value of $88,000. The Annual Conference in Denver in January 2020 was well supported, with more people attending than previous visits to the mile-high city and with record levels of sponsorship. I think all those who were there gained a lot of benefit from the technical presentations as well as great opportunities to network with experts from throughout the industry. Old friendships were renewed, and new ones forged in the busy 5 days at the end of January.

Then we left and made our way back home, wherever that may be, either just down the road or taking more than 24 hours to make the journey. On the way, there were a few travelers that wore masks in the airports, but we took little notice of them, not really understanding that the world was changing even as we returned to our homes. How things have changed over two short months. I do not know of any country in our industry that has not been impacted by the pandemic that has traveled around the world. This has meant a huge change in the way we do business and interact with people. Parts of the mining industry are relatively unaffected as they are designated as “essential industries”. This means that the science and art of explosives engineering is still required but perhaps in a different format to last year. Keeping a safe distance has gained a whole new meaning.

ISEE’s Headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio, is usually staffed by up to 10 people. As mentioned in previous email communications from your Executive Director, all staff are currently working from home, which is the way a lot of us are having to carry out our business. This brings new challenges in terms of how to prepare for the workday effectively and keeping communications at the right level among the staff, members and external individuals. It will also bring great opportunities to look at how we have been doing things and see if there is a smarter, more efficient or effective way to work. Times of crisis are often associated with great inventiveness: we can no longer do things in the old way, so alternate paths are discovered that are often better than the traditional way of doing things.

All ISEE subcommittees work in this remote fashion, interacting on teleconferences or video conferences on a regular basis to discuss projects, present ideas and to further develop ISEE. Tools are provided that allow them to work well in this manner and the members are getting more comfortable and familiar with this way of doing things. As work slows down due to the pandemic, you may find yourselves with a little more time on your hands. I know all the Chairpersons of ISEE’s subcommittees would welcome additional members who are genuinely interested in a particular topic, so I would urge you to take a look at the subcommittee list at the end of this email and see if there is something that grabs your attention. I hope that there is something of interest and that you contact the ISEE staff to find out more about the activities that are going on. Not a lot of additional time is required to be active on one of the subcommittees, often an hour a month, but you can bring your skill and experience to help guide the ISEE over the coming months and years to build a stronger organization.

The changing environment is also being felt acutely by ISEE’s Chapters. Significant regional conferences – the Western Canada AGM and Best in the West Annual Conference have had to be postponed. Local Chapter meetings are also suffering, which is leaving a gap in providing educational and training hours to members. The current Level 1 Certificate Program is available online, while the ISEE Staff continue working on developing additional online resources for the Blasters Training Program to further help to fill this gap.

I would welcome all comments and suggestions you may have for ISEE in these interesting times. Please feel free to contact me at and I will respond as fully as I can. This is going to be a challenging year for all of us. Let’s take the opportunity to do things differently and learn as we move through the year.

Key ISEE Subcommittees:
Finance, Chapter and Membership, International, Blasters Training and Education, Government Affairs, Public Education/Public Relations, Publications, Conference Advisory, Conference Program, Standards.

ISEE Sections:
Emerging Professionals, Blast Vibration & Seismograph, Drilling, Fragblast

Best Regards,

Alastair Torrance, PhD.
International Society of Explosives Engineers