This post is authored by Brian Curtis, president of ISA 2018.

 

Never before have the career prospects been brighter or the demand higher for automation and control professionals.

And as the global association of automation and control professionals, ISA will be there every step of the way to prepare the next generation of engineers and technicians for the challenges and opportunities ahead. 

Recent studies reveal a growing worldwide shortage of automation engineers and maintenance technicians with automation and instrumentation training and experience. At the same time, manufacturing environments are rapidly evolving.

 

 

Dynamic changes in technology—driven by the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Industry 4.0—are revolutionizing how companies access and analyze data to improve efficiency, productivity, and performance, and are transforming industrial processes through continual advances in digitization and automation.

Manufacturers and the engineers and technicians that work for them must embrace and adopt these changes or risk being left behind. Of course, technology alone will not make intelligent factories a reality. People will. Well-trained, highly skilled people.

Here’s where ISA will play an essential role. As the worldwide leader in automation and control training and certification, ISA is acutely aware of the industry’s critical workforce challenges and is uniquely capable of understanding and addressing them.

For example, our leadership and capabilities in industrial cybersecurity—reflected in the global adoption of the ISA/IEC 62443 series of industrial automation and control systems security standards—are more vital than ever. The interconnection of Industry 4.0-driven operations and the acceleration of digital transformation mean that cyberattacks can have far more extensive effects than ever before. Cybersecurity strategies need to be fully integrated into organizational and operational technology strategies.

ISA’s partnership with the European Union to broaden adoption of the ISA/IEC 62443 standards is an important step forward in safeguarding critical infrastructure and manufacturing operations overseas.

ISA industrial cybersecurity training—encompassing the complete lifecycle of cybersecurity assessment, design, implementation, operations, and maintenance—presents an ideal opportunity for automation professionals to advance their career opportunities.  Given the strong demand for these courses, revenue from our cybersecurity courses is exceeding projections. 

In fact, enrollment in ISA-led courses conducted globally surpassed our expectations during the first half of this year. Manufacturers know they will continue to need technicians skilled in instrumentation. Monitoring and managing parameters of pressure, flow, level, and temperature, and calibrating instruments will continue to be critical skills.

The automation and control profession casts an extensive net, across the disciplines of mechanical, electrical and process engineering. Professionals with foundational knowledge in any of these areas will be in position to obtain rewarding jobs and advance in their careers in advanced manufacturing. 

Regardless of where you are on the career continuum—whether you’re in your first job or have decades in the job market—I encourage you to expand your skills and know-how through ISA training. Take advantage of courses organized by your local ISA section or by ISA headquarters in North Carolina. Chances are great the experience will open your eyes and your mind to new possibilities.

Wherever your career in automation takes you, I wish you a prosperous and fulfilling journey. And for those whose journey includes a trip to an upcoming ISA division symposium or to our Annual Leadership Conference in Montreal in October, I look forward to meeting with you there.

 

About the Author
Brian Curtis, I. Eng., LCGI, is the Operations Manager for Veolia Energy Ireland, providing services to Novartis Ringaskiddy Ltd. in Cork, Ireland. He has more than 35 years of experience in petrochemical, biotech, and bulk pharmaceutical industries, specializing in design, construction management, and commissioning of electrical, instrumentation, and automation control systems. He has managed complex engineering projects in Ireland, England, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, and Germany. A long-time ISA member, Curtis has served on the ISA Executive Board since 2013, the Geographic Assembly Board (2012 – 2015), and the Finance Committee (2013 – 2017.) He was Ireland Section President and Vice President of District 12, which includes Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Curtis has also been active on several Society task forces, including Cybersecurity, Governance, and Globalization-related committees. He received the ISA Distinguished Society Service Award in 2010. He is the Former President of Cobh & Harbor Chamber of Commerce (2013-2015) and Former Chairman of the Ireland Southern Region Chambers (2015-2016) and is an active member of the Ireland National Standards Body, ETCI.

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A version of this article also has been published at ISA Insights.

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