The role of technology in making it easier and more convenient to connect to information is only going to increase in the coming years. Fueled by growing consumer and business demand and the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT), devices of all kinds can now be interconnected and used to communicate with each other and with people in real-time — creating new ways to learn, stay up to date, access services, and interact.
These technological advances, from new mobile applications to on-demand videos, are transforming how we live and work. At ISA, we’re riding this wave — developing new and innovative ways to rapidly connect our members, customers, and partners with valuable technical content and information where and when they need it.
In this month’s column, I examine the progress the Society is making in achieving its strategic goal in “coolest delivery,” to “deliver industry-leading content via multiple platforms in an engaging, easy-to-use, and interactive way.”
To meet this goal, ISA is working to:
- Build a culture for producing content on various multimedia platforms.
- Compile new and existing videos, webinars, and other interactive content for new multimedia web pages.
- Create interactive conversion apps as well as how-to videos to distribute via mobile devices.
- Enhance existing products and services with interactive multimedia technology.
- Increase our subject-matter expert pool and encourage our experts to produce technical content in “cool” formats.
- Expand digital content.
Engaging new mobile applications
ISA has been making inroads in coolest delivery for quite some time. In March of 2014, the Society unveiled its new mobile app — InTech Plus — as a way to deliver diverse educational and technical content and interactive tools for on-the-go automation professionals.
Downloadable free of charge, InTech Plus, offers quick, convenient access to “all things automation,” from the latest technology news, subject-matter resources, and video Q&As with ISA experts to useful quizzes, calculators, and conversion tables. InTech Plus versions are available for the Apple iPad and the Android platform, with an offering for smartphones currently in development.
In addition, ISA developed three new mobile apps this year to support three of its 2015 technical symposia: the 15th LDAR-Fugitive Emissions Symposium, which occurred in late May; the 58th Power Industry Division (POWID) Symposium, which took place in early June; and the Process Control and Safety Symposium, which will be conducted in early November.
The new mobile apps for ISA symposia enhance the overall event experience for attendees, boost visibility of the ISA brand, and offer added promotional and relationship-building opportunities for ISA partners and sponsors. App users can access:
- All event information, schedules, and topics in one handy location
- Minute-to-minute updates
- Interactive floor maps
- Agenda highlights
- Interactive functionality with other event attendees
- Posting capabilities to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn
- A convenient way to rate and comment on event sessions
- Exclusive discounts on ISA offerings
New video production capabilities
ISA headquarters in RTP, North Carolina now has a professional recording studio and video post-production technology. ISA staff has to date produced:
- Video greetings from the 2015 and 2016 ISA presidents, cordially welcoming new members to the Society
- “How-to” videos for ISA members
- Two videos to help market ISA training classes
- A video titled “Spring Diaphragm Actuator Bench Set” for use in ISA’s valve training class
- Video interviews with instructors/book authors
- An “Automation War Stories” video (with more planned)
At this year’s Spring Leader Meeting, ISA videotaped “Prop and Drop” testimonial statements featuring ISA leaders. Participating Society leaders agreed to hold an automation “prop” (hard hat, clipboard, handheld computer, calibrator, etc.) of their choice and provide a brief statement (“drop” a line) about being a proud automation professional. More than a dozen ISA leaders were videotaped. Editing is underway and footage will be included in a future “Careers in Automation” video.
A range of new videos accessible on ISA website
ISA recently developed a video presentation landing page on its website that features a range of informative video presentations, including:
- ISA leadership videos and pre-recorded ISA leader training webinars
- Basic and advanced technical videos
- Conference and event videos
- ISA training and certification videos
- How-to and career videos
The page on basic and advanced technical videos currently introduces a new feature called Automation War Stories: Lessons Learned from the Field. In the video, ISA members Greg Lehmann, technical manager at AECom Technology Corp., in Denver, Colorado; and Jim Garrison, senior specialist at aeSolutions, in Greenville, South Carolina, share their real-life experiences and lessons learned at a gas pipeline compressor station and in a biofuels feedstock plant, respectively.
In addition, the page includes several clips of a keynote presentation (“Unlocking the Value of Automation) delivered by Peter Martin, Ph.D., Vice President of Business Value Solutions at Schneider Electric.
Enhancing the learning experience in ISA training offerings
To continually improve the educational experience in ISA training courses, ISA has secured agreements with two vendors: one specializing in an interactive cybersecurity gaming simulation and another that is working with the Society to develop a simulation on motors and drives.
ISA plans to use the cybersecurity gaming simulation in training labs that are part of its TS12 (Industrial Networking & Security) and TS20 (Advanced Industrial Networking and Cybersecurity) training courses. ISA training experts expect the simulation will support a more interactive and engaging learning environment. View this informative video for more details of the simulation.
Also in development is a new motors and drives simulation — to be used in ISA’s SP15 (Applying Motor Controls and Drives) course — that is intended to replace existing labor- and equipment-intensive exercises. The simulation, which may be offered as a separate online product in the future, delivers a scenario-based experience with toolbox resources for troubleshooting industrial AC motors. ISA training experts expect this simulation will inject more excitement and interest in the training course, reduce the cost of purchasing and shipping equipment, and eliminate in-class safety concerns.
Progress achieved to date in 2015 toward coolest delivery goal
Within the coolest delivery goal, ISA has four formal objectives. At the Spring Leader Meeting held earlier this summer, Susan Colwell, the Society’s Director of Publications and Publisher of InTech (who is leading ISA’s initiatives in coolest delivery), outlined progress to date in 2015 toward achieving these four objectives:
- Objective #1, Develop Tools for Content Developers, is 60 percent complete.
- Objective #2, New Apps, is 30 percent complete.
- Objective #3, SME (Subject Matter Experts) Chat Room/Blog, is 30 percent complete.
- Objective #4, Emphasize Video Production and Distribution, is 60 percent complete.
For more specifics on progress achieved to date, download this summary report.
What you can do to support ISA’s attainment of this goal
ISA members can play an important role in supporting the Society’s coolest delivery goal. By sharing your career experiences, lessons learned, and professional expertise — whether through a videotaped message, an InTech column or blog — you’ll be enriching the real-world value of ISA content and helping us expand the ways in which we can deliver it.
I encourage you to contact Susan Colwell at ISA (via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling +1 (919) 990-9305). She’ll guide you to the right ISA media channel that will give your story the greatest impact and visibility.
In my October blog post, I plan to highlight the important activities and issues surrounding ISA’s Fall Leader Meeting in Louisville. The meeting provides another valuable opportunity to hear the latest reports on our progress and continue the very positive momentum we’re generating.
Rick Roop has been a member of ISA since 1983 and established the Society’s Evansville, Ind. and Terre Haute, Ind. Sections. Rick has held a variety of ISA leadership positions including district vice president and chairman of the Council of District Vice Presidents, Power Industry Division board member, and he has also served as chairman of the Finance Committee and chairman of the Investment Committee. Rick worked as a senior instrumentation engineer at Southern Indiana Gas & Electric Company (now Vectren). He then joined Hoosier Energy, REC, first as an instrument and electrical engineer, and later as general manager at the company’s Frank E. Ratts Generating Station. Since 2012, Rick has held the position of vice president, senior portfolio manager and owner of Donaldson Capital Management, an Evansville, Ind.-based SEC-registered investment advisory firm with $1 billion in assets under management. Rick earned a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering technology from Murray State University and a master of business administration degree with an emphasis in finance from Indiana State University.
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A version of this article also has been published in ISA Insights.