Exploring the Global Shale Gas Initiative—Potential opportunities for ISA

Exploring the Global Shale Gas Initiative—Potential opportunities for ISA

This post is authored by Peggie Koon, president of ISA 2014.

If you look at any of the reports on energy or happen to browse the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) website (www.eia.gov), you will see a large number of links to articles about the rapid growth of shale gas and tight oil. In fact, Natural Gas - Shale Gas road signPresident Obama, in his State of the Union address, talked “about the role shale gas can play in providing clean, reasonably-priced domestic energy.” But shale gas is not just a game changer for the US; globally, the rapid growth of shale gas production has tremendous implications for energy production and consumption.

At the ISA Executive Summit held in Greensboro, NC earlier this year, Society leaders identified the growing global demand for energy as one of 10 game changing trend rivers impacting the future of the automation industry and ISA. We also recognized the rapid growth of shale gas, its impact on the cost and consumption of natural gas, and the potential shale gas opportunity for ISA.

In this article we will review basic shale gas concepts, take a look at the global opportunity, touch briefly on new technologies being used, and look at environmental impacts. Finally, we’ll pose a few questions: How might ISA engage with this industry/market? Are there potential training and/or workforce development opportunities for ISA related to shale gas or other unconventional energy resources? What else might ISA do?

What is shale gas? According to the Energy Information Administration or EIA, shale gas is natural gas (primarily methane) which is trapped inside formations of shale. Shales are fine grained sedimentary rocks that may be rich sources of natural gas and petroleum. (http://energy.gov/articles/producing-natural-gas-shale)

How were these formations formed? Geologists believe that during the Devonian period of Earth’s history (300-400 million years ago) shale formations were formed…“Shales were deposited as fine silt and clay particles at the bottom of relatively enclosed bodies of water.” Around the same time forests were being formed on land from primitive plants and the first amphibians appeared. “Some of the methane that formed from the organic matter buried with the sediments escaped into sandy rock layers adjacent to the shales, forming conventional accumulations of natural gas which are relatively easy to extract. But some of it remained locked in the tight, low permeability shale layers, becoming shale gas.” (http://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2013/04/f0/what_is_shale_gas.pdf)

How is shale gas recovered? Shale gas is recovered from shale formations using horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing or “fracking.” (http://www.eia.gov/energy_in_brief/article/about_shale_gas.cfm)

Diagram of a Typical Hydraulic Fracturing Operation

Diagram of a Typical Hydraulic Fracturing Operation

The combination of hydraulic fracking and horizontal drilling has transformed organic-rich shales that were previously unproductive into some of the largest, most productive natural gas fields in the world. “The Marcellus ShaleUtica ShaleBarnett ShaleEagle Ford Shale and Bakken Formation are examples of previously unproductive rock units that have been converted into fantastic gas or oil fields by hydraulic fracturing.” www.eia.gov

What shale gas resources are available globally? Advanced Resources International, Inc. (ARI) was commissioned by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) to complete an initial assessment of international shale gas resources. The report looked at almost 70 shale gas formations in 48 basins located in 32 countries and showed reserves of 6,622 trillion cubic feet of technically recoverable shale gas in the 32 countries analyzed. The map below shows the location of these basins and the regions analyzed in the study. For the full report, go to: http://geology.com/energy/world-shale-gas/.

International shale gas resources

Why is this important? Why should you care? Here’s a fast fact to remember: According to the EIA, just 1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas is enough to heat 15 million homes for one year, generate 100 billion kilowatt hours of electricity, or fuel 12 million natural-gas-fired vehicles for one year.

And by 2035, the EIA projects that shale gas production will rise to 13.6 trillion cubic feet, representing nearly half of all US natural gas production. (www.eia.gov)

2035 shale gas production

What new shale gas technologies are available related to hydraulic fracking?

In April of this year, I attended the NAE-AAES Convocation of Professional Engineering Societies in Washington, DC. In his presentation, Dr. Jeff Spath, 2014 SPE president, Schlumberger Limited, talked about new technological advances for unconventional energy resources, including:

  • Wellbore Placement & Geologic Steering – Technology has taken us from geometric to geologic forms of drilling, optimizing drilling of the well to the “sweet spot” using geologic steering
  • Electromagnetic look ahead drilling – Allows us to look ahead of the drill bit 10 to 60 feet away
  • Multi-stage fracturing – Allows us to increase contact between the well and flow from 315 sq. ft. to 160K sq. ft. using single stage fracking to 2.4M sq. ft. with Multi-stage fracking
  • Micro seismic monitoring/interpretation – Allows us to listen to the horizontal wells fractured, gives us an acoustic measurement plus visualization of the fractures, and allows us to optimize the way we take advantage of the flow. (https://www.nae.edu/File.aspx?id=113225) The technology combines subsurface sensors with powerful data collection and analysis software torecord the myriad of tiny microseisms (or micro earthquakes) that occur as fluid is pumped into a well bore, splitting or fracturing the subsurface rock formation holding the natural gas or oil. The individual locations of these micro seismic events are mapped to create an image of the fracture locations. To monitor each of these small events, high detection sensitivity devices are used. In addition to improving efficiency, the use of these systems also allows us to reduce the environmental impact of fracking. (http://www.ussensorsystems.com/oil-hydro.html)

Another hot topic of discussion was the potential use of liquid CO2 to replace water in the fracking process. Mr. C. Michael Ming, P.E., general manager, Oil & Gas Technology Center, GE Global Research, spoke to us about Unconventional Resources & State of R&D. Michael said we are in “the Age of Gas,” stating that natural gas is taking a larger role in the global energy mix because it’s affordable, reliable, and dispatchable. He talked about the research and development effort that is taking in place in these areas using technologiesthat are better, cheaper, faster, safer, cleaner, and smarter:

  • Production Systems
  • Well Construction
  • Energy Systems
  • Water Treatment
  • CO2 EOR & Fracturing (enhanced oil recovery and to replace water in fracturing)

See the presentation at: https://www.nae.edu/File.aspx?id=113229.

Recently, GE, which is studying the issue under a $10 billion research program, stated that “carbon dioxide, used for years to force crude oil out of old wells, likely will not replace water in fracking anytime soon because of technical challenges and limited infrastructure”.

GE is making a push into oilfield technology and is studying how a chilled form of CO2 known as a “super-critical fluid”—which is neither a liquid nor a solid—could be used as the new industry standard for hydraulic fracturing, (or fracking). The company is working on the project with Norwegian oil and gas producer Statoil ASA as part of GE’s ecomagination program, a program that focuses on gas turbine efficiency, wind blade design and other energy projects.(http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/04/07/generalelectric-fracking-carbon-idUSL1N0MT1HN20140407)

What about shale gas production and the environment?
Mr. Scott Anderson, senior policy advisory, Environmental Defense Fund, talked about eight risk areas associated with hydraulic fracking. The eight risks mentioned were:

  1. Well integrity – There are 136 elements critical to well integrity. Lack of well integrity can pollute water or cause leaking to the environment during construction and for lifetime.
  2. Induced Seismicity – Fracking can cause earthquakes. The earthquakes are caused by injection of fluid (resulting in 40 x increases in earthquakes that measure 4.0 on the Richter scale) and 2.0 quakes.
  3. Surface erosion – Fracking causes erosion of the soil.
  4. Water Use – Excessive use of water in the fracking process is a drain on resources.
  5. Surface spills – Waste from fracking can affect ground water.
  6. Recycling Risks – Due to storage, new forms of transportation, handling of residual waste streams, there are recycling risks.
  7. Air quality – While clear methane emissions are not so high to affect greenhouse advantages, air toxins, and fugitive methanes are by products of fracking.
  8. Infrastructure environmental impact – There can also be increased noise, dust, increased traffic, traffic congestion, and related fatalities. (https://www.nae.edu/Projects/Events/71511/113103/113105.aspx)

These risks are also cited by the EIA a list of potential environmental concerns related to hydraulic fracturing for shale gas since the fracturing of wells requires large amounts of water and produces large amounts of wastewater. Some of these concerns include:

  • Significant use of water for shale gas production may affect the availability of water for other uses and can affect aquatic habitats.
  • Hydraulic fracturing fluid may contain potentially hazardous chemicals. If mismanaged, these materials can be released by spills, leaks, faulty well construction, or other exposure pathways, which may contaminate surrounding areas.
  • Wastewater from fracturing may contain dissolved chemicals and other contaminants that could require treatment before disposal or reuse. Wastewater treatment and disposal because of the quantities of water used and the complexities inherent in treating some of the wastewater components, treatment and disposal is an important and challenging issue.
  • Hydraulic fracturing causes small earthquakes, but they are almost always too small to be a safety concern (reference the United States Geological Survey). Fracking fluids and formation waters (wastewater) are returned to the surface. The injection of wastewater into the subsurface can cause earthquakes that are large enough to be felt and may cause damage.” (http://www.eia.gov/energy_in_brief/article/about_shale_gas.cfm)

“If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves” Thomas Edison

What are the implications for ISA? One of ISA’s strategic goals is to look at Big Data, to use analytics so that ISA’s products and services are market driven.

For the US, the EIA’s report “Outlook for U.S. shale oil & gas” projects that:

  • Shale gas will lead the growth in total gas production through 2040 to reach half of US output
  • Natural gas prices will remain well below crude oil prices
  • Natural gas consumption growth driven by electric power, industrial, and transportation use
  • Manufacturing output and natural gas use will grow with lower natural gas prices
  • Rapid growth of natural gas use in the transportation sector, especially in freight trucks
  • US becomes a net exporter of natural gas in the near future
  • Energy-related CO2 emissions remain below 2005 levels for the forecast period

Read the full report at www.eia.gov.

While I have not researched the implications for each of the 32 countries included in the EIA assessment, ISA might begin by looking at the data to understand how this phenomenal growth in shale gas and tight oil affects the automation industry, not just in the US but around the globe.

Are there opportunities for ISA to provide training, certifications, certificate programs, or standards related to shale gas production, water and wastewater, leak detection and repair, or micro seismic hydrofrack monitoring? Do we have existing products and services that can be applied to shale? Are there opportunities for ISA to develop new standards, products, and services related to shale gas or tight oil? What else might ISA do?

If you are engaged in shale gas and tight oil initiatives and are interested in helping to investigate the shale gas opportunity for ISA, please let Society leadership know. Contact me at president@isa.org.

About the Author
Peggie Koon_2Peggie Koon, Ph.D., is vice president of audience at Chronicle Media and The Augusta Chronicle, which are part of Morris Publishing Group, LLC, a privately held media company based in Augusta, Ga. Prior to joining Morris, Peggie spent more than 25 years developing IT systems for process automation and process con–trol in a variety of industries, including automotive, nuclear defense, aerospace, nuclear reprocessing, thermal ceramics and textiles. Peggie assumed her first ISA leadership position in 1996 as membership chair of the Management Division and has held a variety of prominent leadership roles in the Society. She earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Smith College in Northampton, Mass. and completed graduate studies in industrial and systems engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She received a doctorate in management information systems from Kennedy Western University in Cheyenne, Wyo.
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A version of this article also has been published in ISA Insights.

Are you qualified?

Are you qualified?

This post is authored by Peggie Koon, president of ISA 2014.

This week hundreds of educators and professionals from government and public and private industry sectors converged on Washington, DC to attend the US News STEM Solutions National Conference. The sessions covered an array of topics related to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math); I had the honor of participating on a panel entitled “Customized Credentials Come of Age.”Qualified or unqualified.

After a brief introduction by Dr. Barbara Endel, Program Director for Jobs of the Future, I listened attentively as Dr. Cathy Sandeen, VP of Education, Attainment, and Innovation at ACE (the American Council on Education) presented the numbers, confirming that 30 million people in the US have sub-BA (bachelor of arts) credentials.  30 million!  That’s a large number of folks.

Cathy made the case for the need to bridge the gap in the credentialing process so students know how credentials stack up against a traditional four-year degree program; educators at local universities and technical colleges understand how to merge sub-BA credentials with traditional collegiate course work; and employers can gauge competency/proficiency/skill level using all of the credentials a student might possess. (Note: Later during my trip to DC, Dr. Cora Marrett, Deputy Director of the National Science Foundation described this issue in a discussion of linear versus non-linear paths for STEM degrees.) Credentialing and competency in STEM education and STEM careers were a huge part of the “buzz” at the National Academy of Engineering’s Annual Convocation of Professional Engineering Societies (at which ISA was invited to participate).

The Automation Federation worked with industry experts and representatives from the Department of Labor to develop the Automation Competency Model, a formal federal guideline that outlines the skills and competencies needed to succeed in the automation field. (click the image to zoom a larger view)

The Automation Federation worked with industry experts and representatives from the Department of Labor to develop the Automation Competency Model, a formal federal guideline that outlines the skills and competencies needed to succeed in the automation field. (click the image to zoom a larger view)

The presentation on credential gaps flowed nicely into a hearty discussion of badges. Dr. Kyle Bowen, Director of Education Technology at Penn State University, explained how badges allow students to maintain digital portfolios that include work experience, education, certificates, certifications, etc.  Badges, in effect, allow a student to own and maintain a complete digital profile of both institutional and experiential learning so employers know immediately if she or he (as an applicant) has the specific competency required for a job. Kyle also discussed the need to define standards so employers have levels of confidence that the applicant has specific competency in the areas for which a badge is received.

When it was my turn to speak, I began with the question: “How many of you have heard of ISA?” The audience was silent. An estimated 50 people sat in the room to discuss credentials and not one of them had heard of ISA. Furthermore, even after I explained ISA’s role in providing workforce development/training, professional development, and certificates, as well as certification programs for automation professionals, there were many blank faces in the room. The audience appeared to connect with me more as I related that ISA, in conjunction with the US Department of Labor and industry experts, has developed an Automation Competency Model. The model defines requirements for all levels of the automation profession, helping employers better understand what skills they should look for in an applicant.

And students can refer to the model to determine which courses/certificates/certification programs are required for different automation fields/positions. And, finally, colleges and technical institutes can also use the model to build competency-based curricula.

Someone in the audience asked if there were any K-12 schools with competency model-based curricula? ISA’s collaborative effort with Project Lead the Way in the schools in Raleigh and Pennsylvania immediately came to mind.  I also mentioned that programs like FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) and Goldie Blox, supported by entrepreneurs, augment the traditional school system curricula while getting students excited and raising awareness of the importance of STEM education and project/competency-based learning.

Finally, I listed five “game changers” that are impacting STEM solutions and the automation profession.  The game changers listed were:

Big Data – More than ever before, companies today are relying on big data analytics to make strategic decisions, creating a demand for STEM careers related to the effort.

Coolest Delivery − The next generation of STEM and automation professionals is techno savvy and technology enabled – a group that will expect STEM projects (content, data, and tools) to be available via the coolest delivery/technology available. Without the “cool factor,” the disparity that exists between the demand for STEM careers and the supply of STEM professionals will continue to expand.

Cybersecurity – The cyber threat is real and there is a concomitant requirement for STEM professionals in cybersecurity – people who understand how to mitigate and respond to the threat both in traditional IT and from the emerging operational technology (OT) perspectives that are affecting our nation’s critical infrastructure.

Aging Workforce  – The current STEM workforce is aging.  Many of the nation’s critical STEM jobs are filled by folks who are nearing retirement. There is a skills gap between retirees and those who are entering the STEM career workforce, creating a significant need for workforce development in this area.

MOOC and other new credentialing programs – In addition, I talked about the impact of massively open online courses (MOOC) and other emerging credentials and badges. These innovations will change the way students choose to learn and will trigger changes in college curricula and requirements for STEM and automation degrees. And these new innovative credentialing systems will challenge the way employers define “qualifications” for STEM jobs.

This last game-changing theme about credentialing made me feel that ISA should become more engaged in this conversation – to better understand and to be able to adequately respond to the changes that are occurring in this space.

The conversation that followed the panel discussion confirmed my feelings. You see, I heard over and over again folks talking about how difficult it is to properly convey a person’s work experience, his/her collegiate degree/coursework, plus certificates, licenses, certifications, and/or any badges to determine appropriate paths for continuing STEM education and acquiring STEM careers.

What if every STEM career and STEM field had a competency model? Would that help solve the problem? Or would it create a new set of problems? At the American Association of Engineering Societies (AAES) Board Meeting, Jerry Carter, CEO of the National Council for Examiners of Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) shared that he, Cathy Leslie, CEO of Engineers Without Borders (EWB), and Mike Marlowe, Managing Director of the Automation Federation, recently visited with a team at the Employment and Training Agency (ETA) of the Department of Labor to discuss a project to develop an engineering competency model.

It’s anticipated that this will be a year-long project, but Jerry told the AAES Board that he thinks “this competency model will be a tool that will be useful to all of our organizations.” Jerry credited ISA with having made him aware of the model. Once the engineering competency model is developed, all of the engineering societies will be able to follow ISA’s lead and use it as a template for more targeted competency models − so engineers will know if they are qualified-for their respective areas of engineering.

This effort is not just relegated to engineering societies, but is extended to community colleges and universities as well. ISA and the Automation Federation are working with Cleveland Community College (CCC) and the government to develop Mission Critical Operations training programs that encompass STEM education for those who support mission critical operations of a company, including industrial/operational and information technology.  This government funded program will be piloted at CCC, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and other colleges to develop a template/competency model for this type of STEM education at technical, community, and four-year colleges across America.

What should be the response from academia? Should the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) look at developing competency based-degrees that encompass both applied/experiential learning and specific course work?

How early in the learning/development process should project/competency-based learning occur?

If badges are adopted, how would badges be verified and standardized?

What else might industry, government, entrepreneurs, and professional organizations partner to address this very important issue?

Advocacy, Innovation, Partnership, Competency Models

The STEM problem in the US is a complex, multi-faceted issue, one that can only be solved by a very concerted and congruent effort from the four pillars of our nation − education, government, industry, and the private sector (entrepreneurs). And there are so many questions related to STEM. Those listed above are just a few.

“There is far more opportunity than ability.” ————-Thomas Edison

After listening to the various speakers at the convocation and those at the United Engineering Foundation’s (UEF) Engineering Public Policy Symposium, I am very hopeful about the future of STEM education and STEM careers. Significant advances have been made in Shale gas using new micro seismic and geo thermal technologies. Are there specific courses or certification programs to be developed for perhaps a new set of STEM careers that will evolve from innovations in shale gas and unconventional energy resources?

The discussions about the manufacturing renaissance, the “Maker initiative,” and cool new innovations in manufacturing, such as 3D printing, provide new avenues for entrepreneurs to engage and to promote innovation.  Who will develop standards for the products made by these new STEM entrepreneurs? And if grants are given for these new “manufacturing” hubs, how will applicants “qualify”?

What will competency look like tomorrow, next year, five years from now?

Are you qualified?

About the Author
Peggie Koon_2Peggie Koon, Ph.D., is vice president of audience at Chronicle Media and The Augusta Chronicle, which are part of Morris Publishing Group, LLC, a privately held media company based in Augusta, Ga. Prior to joining Morris, Peggie spent more than 25 years developing IT systems for process automation and process control in a variety of industries, including automotive, nuclear defense, aerospace, nuclear reprocessing, thermal ceramics and textiles. Peggie assumed her first ISA leadership position in 1996 as membership chair of the Management Division and has held a variety of prominent leadership roles in the Society. She earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Smith College in Northampton, Mass. and completed graduate studies in industrial and systems engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She received a doctorate in management information systems from Kennedy Western University in Cheyenne, Wyo.

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

Get involved in promoting STEM education

Get involved in promoting STEM education

This post is authored by Peggie Koon, president of ISA 2014.

In last month’s ISA Insights article I mentioned I will complete a series of articles reviewing the 10 trends impacting ISA. Last month we looked at Cybersecurity and this month we’ll take a closer look at the STEM education initiative. Virtually all ISA members and automation professionals have benefited from their education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Even so, are you doing enough to promote interest in and the importance of STEM education and STEM careers? After all, STEM education is essential to cultivating a new generation of automation Promoting STEM educationprofessionals and to encouraging greater worldwide discovery and innovation.

This month’s article begins with a definition of STEM education. I’ll then share how STEM education shaped my life and career. Next, we’ll highlight what ISA, AF and others are doing to promote this important initiative. And finally, we’ll look at how you can help serve in support of the effort.

What is STEM education?  In the article “Why STEM education is important,” Francis Eberle, Ph. D., as executive director of the National Science Teachers Association, wrote: “We define STEM education as the preparation of students in competencies and skills in the four disciplines (science, technology, engineering, and math).  A successful STEM education provides students with science, math, and engineering/technology in sequences that build upon each other and can be used with real-world applications.”

How did a STEM education shape my life and career?  My family is rooted in science and mathematics. There were 10 of us and about half were liberal arts majors and the other half concentrated on math and science. From physics, to pure mathematics, to electrical engineering and chemical engineering, we loved math and the sciences, excelled in the disciplines, and were fortunate enough to have attended schools with excellent teachers and a strong emphasis on science, technology, engineering, and math.

In addition, our teachers and counselors found programs to augment our curriculum—to help enhance our excitement and interest. For instance, my older brother’s chemistry teacher enrolled him and a group of his classmates in a summer physics program at Oak Ridge National Laboratories. He pursued a career in physics, obtaining a double degree in physics and mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a doctorate degree in high energy nuclear physics from Princeton.

As a rising senior in high school I attended the National Science Foundation’s summer science training program (SSTP) a special program at LSU for juniors in high schools across the nation who were “gifted” in the sciences. The same woman who encouraged my brother—my high school chemistry teacher—was responsible for making our class aware of the program.  She facilitated the required testing and helped us submit our applications so we would have a chance to participate. She had a very positive impact on my future educational and career choices. I majored in mathematics as an undergraduate, studied industrial and systems engineering in graduate school, and received my doctorate degree in management information systems or IT systems.

The teacher, Mrs. Otwell, was a subject matter expert (SME) who knew and loved chemistry, math, and physics.  She shared her knowledge and love of the disciplines in such a powerful practical way that it was contagious!  All of us who were fortunate enough to come through her classroom loved chemistry, math, and the sciences, too; and because of her efforts we understood the importance of science and math to our society and our nation.  As I have traveled and interacted with peers in ISA and other educational and professional organizations I hear the same sorts of stories about their experiences…their curriculums, teachers, and their levels of engagement in promoting STEM.

Our STEM education experiences corroborate President Obama’s statement: “The quality of math and science teachers is the most important single factor influencing whether students will succeed or fail in science, technology, engineering, and math.”

Why is STEM education important?  According to Dr. Eberle: “STEM education creates critical thinkers, increases science literacy, and enables the next generation of innovators. Innovation leads to new products and processes that sustain our economy. This innovation and science literacy depends on a solid knowledge base in the STEM areas. It is clear that most jobs of the future will require a basic understanding of math and science. Ten-year employment projections by the US Department of Labor show that of the 20 fastest-growing occupations projected for 2014, 15 of them require significant mathematics or science preparation.”

The chart below from the US Department of Education website (www.ed.gov/stem) confirms Dr. Eberle’s employment projections:

Projected Percentage Increases STEM JobsEberle says “it is imperative that as a nation, we make STEM education a top priority. We have a lot of work to do.”

According to the www.ed.gov/stem site, “Only 16 percent of American high school seniors are proficient in mathematics and interested in a STEM career. Even among those who do go on to pursue a college major in the STEM fields, only about half choose to work in a related career. The US is falling behind internationally, ranking 25th in mathematics and 17th in science among industrialized nations. In our competitive global economy, this situation is unacceptable”.

What are ISA and the Automation Federation doing to support STEM education initiatives?  ISA and its umbrella organization, the Automation Federation, have been involved in STEM education and other workforce development initiatives for many years. In his article, “Carpe diem America”, Todd Lucey, as general manager of Endress+Hauser Sales Center USA, wrote: “The cradle-to-grave approach, led by the Automation Federation’s Workforce Development plan, stresses the importance of strengthening STEM. Working toward the same goal, we can join the efforts headed by Project Lead the Way—a provider of STEM education curricular programs used in middle and high schools across the US—to create a greater awareness of STEM-related careers in the field of automation.”

The AF works to advance the science and engineering of automation technologies, promote the automation profession, and develop the education and training programs that will prepare and inspire a new generation of automation professionals. The AF is an active participant in a growing national movement—involving leaders in government, education and private industry—focused on increasing students’ interest and skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) within America’s educational system.”  Read the full article: https://www.isa.org/content/news-and-press-releases/press-releases/2012/november/automation-federation-collaborates-with-williamsport-area-high-school-pennsylvania-strengthen-automation-controls-curriculum/

One of the messages AF spreads on behalf of its member organizations is the importance of the automation profession and the need to develop the next generation of automation professionals. To build momentum and support for its workforce development initiatives—including the promotion of STEM education and the Automation Competency Model—AF is working to bring like-minded organizations together to create a stronger “voice.”

In March 2009, the Automation Federation also worked with the Piedmont Triad Partnership in organizing the first Technology Career Days event for high school students in the 12 counties comprising the Piedmont Triad region in North Carolina. Hundreds of high school students from 16 high schools visited 35 exhibits that highlighted automation and technology and provided hands-on learning activities. The students had the opportunity to discuss design, manufacturing, and logistics careers in fields from product design to automation to transportation.

In 2012, ISA and the AF partnered with Project Lead the Way in North Carolina and Pennsylvania to develop an automation course at Williamsport High school in Williamsport, Pennsylvania and at the Riverside High school in Durham, NC.

Furthermore, both ISA and the Automation Federation are also actively involved in FIRST®, an acronym which means “For Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology.” Founded in 1989, FIRST focuses on helping young people discover the excitement and rewards of science and technology. FIRST’s vision is to: “To transform our culture by creating a world where science and technology are celebrated and where young people dream of becoming science and technology leaders.” Since 2010, the Automation Federation and ISA have enjoyed a global strategic alliance with FIRST to promote the importance of STEM in K-12 education. Learn more at: http://www.usfirst.org/aboutus/press-room/first-automation-federation-and-the-international-society-of-automation-announce-strategic-allianc

What else might ISA do? During the recently held ISA Executive Summit, Society leaders identified cradle-to-grave advocacy of the automation profession as one of ISA’s five strategic goals. This means ISA will continue to work with AF organizations, government, educational institutions, and private industry to promote STEM education and to develop workforce training and professional development programs that support STEM careers.

What else is happening in STEM education across the US?  President Obama has challenged governors, philanthropists, scientists, engineers, educators, and the private sector to join with him in a national campaign to find innovative new ways to recruit, train, reward, and retain teachers. The challenge resulted in a number of STEM education programs funded by states and private industry. Programs like GoldieBlox (www.goldieblox.com), Engineer Girl (www.engineergirl.org), and STEMspire (www.stemspire.com) are specifically targeted at STEM education for girls and women.

How do we make STEM education personal?  How can you help?  We need only follow the example of ISA Executive Director and CEO Pat Gouhin to learn how to become personally engaged in support of STEM education.  Pat was vocal in encouraging ISA members and other automation professionals to recognize 2014 Engineers Week through outreach and volunteerism.  And just a few weeks ago, Pat got personally involved at the FIRST Robotics Competition in Raleigh, NC. Pat volunteered his time—not just as an ISA leader, but as an automation professional, a parent, and a citizen concerned about our nation’s STEM education deficiency—to serve FIRST. Read Pat’s inspiring story of volunteering at this STEM event at automation.isa.org: https://automation.isa.org/2014/03/inspire-the-next-generation-of-leaders-by-volunteering-for-first/

Next month, I will serve on a panel entitled “Customized Credentials Come of Age, at the US News Stem Solutions National Leadership Conference,” where we will “examine some of the standout credentials that employers value—and which lead to STEM jobs—as well as what’s necessary to engage more students and young professionals in these pathways.” Get more details on the conference at: http://usnewsstemsolutions.com/conference

You can serve the STEM education initiative, too, by:

  • Speaking at a classroom or after-school group
  • Bringing students to your workplace or campus
  • Spreading the need for STEM education and automation careers to colleagues
  • Hosting a public event
  • Publicizing your plans on the ISA blog or website
  • Introducing your child’s school to FIRST or supporting GoldieBlox toys for the little girls in your life
  • Getting the word out through social media on LinkedIn, FB, or Twitter

There’s no better time than right now to get involved!

 

About the Author
Peggie Koon_2Peggie Koon, Ph.D., is vice president of audience at Chronicle Media and The Augusta Chronicle, which are part of Morris Publishing Group, LLC, a privately held media company based in Augusta, Ga. Prior to joining Morris, Peggie spent more than 25 years developing IT systems for process automation and process control in a variety of industries, including automotive, nuclear defense, aerospace, nuclear reprocessing, thermal ceramics and textiles. Peggie assumed her first ISA leadership position in 1996 as membership chair of the Management Division and has held a variety of prominent leadership roles in the Society. She earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Smith College in Northampton, Mass. and completed graduate studies in industrial and systems engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She received a doctorate in management information systems from Kennedy Western University in Cheyenne, Wyo.

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

Inspire the Next Generation of Leaders by Volunteering for FIRST

Inspire the Next Generation of Leaders by Volunteering for FIRST

This post is written by Pat Gouhin, ISA executive director and CEO.

 

I recently had my most rewarding experience of the past year.  Some time ago, I agreed to volunteer for the regional, three-day FIRST Robotics Competition held in Raleigh, N.C.  I asked to be assigned to anywhere I was needed.  When I showed up for the first day of setup and practice, I found that I had been slotted as a member of a six-person team responsible for safety.   We were given cool green shirts emblazoned with the words “FIRST Safety Advisor” and we were briefed on our areas of responsibility.  Sounds simple, easy and straightforward, right?

FIRST Competition March 2014 Raleigh NC featured image

When you consider that we had the primary responsibility to keep a safe environment while 54 teams − some with more than 20 members − were building, assembling, testing, and operating electrical and mechanical robots that performed a variety of functions in a small area along with a few thousand spectators, it was anything but straightforward.

It was actually quite hectic.  Teams came from up and down the mid-Atlantic region and one team even traveled all the way from The Netherlands!  Each team had multiple mentors (engineers and technicians from their local communities), teachers from their schools, and parents.  They were assigned, with all of their equipment, to a 10-by-10-foot box within a special area called “The Pits” that was behind the arena where the game was to be played (watch the video).

Each match consisted of three teams representing the red side and three teams representing the blue side.  They had to work together to move big balls from one side of the field to the other, over trusses, and through baskets and windows where they scored points.  It was a very intense experience to say the least.  There were about 100 matches with each match made up of a different combination of six teams.  In the end, two teams would be crowned winners and move on the national competition in St. Louis, Mo.  Click this link to watch an amazing time-lapse video created by one of the teams.

I was most surprised and pleased to see how these high school students listened to every word that came out of the mouths of the safety advisors.  We were seen and respected as an authority figure that could give them guidance and advice ensuring their safety and those around them.  But it was not superficial: They were genuinely and sincerely interested in obtaining and maintaining a safe environment in all that they did.

There was the standard stuff like wearing safety glasses and making sure no one had opened-toed shoes but we went all the way through other safety factors involving proper operation of saws, drills, electrical equipment, battery charging and storage, movement, storage, testing of the robots, and more.  The team of safety advisors “patrolled” the area offering guidance and direction when we saw a potential infraction or safety concern. But then we also acted as a collective group and evaluated each team based on a variety of criteria.

Each day awards were given for the safest pit and to the individual who most embodied a safety culture.  After an evening consultation, we would go around the next morning and hand out the awards of a pin and certificate.  It was so refreshing to see the excitement on student faces as well as the satisfaction in the eyes of mentors and teachers.

ISA is a strategic alliance partner of FIRST.

 

While I was feeling particularly good about my choice to give my time to this well-organized and meaningful group, there was a particular moment that really struck home for me and put it all in perspective.  There was a roving deputy sheriff who had been assigned to the event for crowd control.  At one point I went over to her and asked how she was doing in keeping everybody in line.  She immediately shared how much she loved the assignment and how there was nothing more motivating than watching these teenagers interact with adults in such a positive and cultivating manner.  She told me that the day had given her a restored hope in the future.

She also offered that she NEVER sees this side of life; considering realities of law enforcement in a major metropolitan area.  She thanked me for volunteering my time to make a difference in the lives of these talented young people that will inherit the Earth.   It was a special moment, and was one of many expressions of gratitude that were delivered that day.

These events happen all over the world and there is more than likely a team in your local region that could use the helping hand and knowledge of a mentor.  If a team is not present, perhaps you would consider sponsoring one for 2015?  This would be a great activity for an ISA Section to embrace and support!  Discover the many volunteer or sponsorship opportunities for FIRST by visiting http://www.USFIRST.org.

About the AuthorPat Gouhin
Pat Gouhin is Executive Director and CEO of the International Society of Automation.  Before joining ISA, Pat served as chief operating officer of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and as the first vice president of Operations and Technology Transfer for the National Institute of Aerospace at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.  He earned a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical and astronautical engineering from Ohio State University and a master’s degree in engineering management from George Washington University.

 

 

A Sneak Preview of ISA’s New Website and Enhanced User Experience

A Sneak Preview of ISA’s New Website and Enhanced User Experience

This post is written by Pat Gouhin, ISA executive director and CEO.

The International Society of Automation has been putting the finishing touches on a brand new website, the customer − and member − facing portal that showcases all of ISA’s products, services, and technical information to the world. Behind the new website is a brand new, state-of-the-art association management system, which fulfills a similar purpose to a for-profit company’s customer relationship management system. ISA’s web presence also will integrate a new learning management system to enable training and certification customers to easily register and participate in professional development activities as well as track the progress of their educational programs.

ISA’s new website will be a key hub for technical information, networking conversations, and leveraging your membership value. The new site caters to user requests for expanded site-wide search and filtering capabilities, enhanced navigation with mega-menus that allow users to browse three levels deep in the site by hovering over a navigation button, and an intuitive and streamlined checkout process.

ISA attracts more than 1.2 million unique visitors each year. Your experience on the ISA website starts at the new home page.

ISA_home_page1

ISA new home page

ISA’s new home page: A top-to-bottom preview

ISA_home_page_upper1

Top portion of new ISA home page

The top portion of ISA’s new home page design features several important areas:

  • ISA’s logo and tagline, which immediately communicates the brand and its relevance to the audience.
  • ISA’s social media icons, inviting visitors to connect with ISA on our social channels.
  • Two bright, eye-catching opportunities to join ISA, which links to a new membership page and an enhanced checkout experience for new members.
  • An easy-to-find button to access the new Members Corner – a section of the site for our members and leaders to easily access the tools needed to make the most of your ISA membership. You can edit your profile, set your communication preferences, store your favorite articles and content items, see personalized recommendations just for you, view your member savings history, and more. The Members’ Corner section will feature calendar feeds so that you can keep up with the latest happenings in your Divisions, Sections, and committees from one central location. You’ll also be able to engage in dialogue with members and colleagues via ISA’s blog. Non-members can use this section to manage their accounts and preferences, see their order history, and access their downloaded purchases.
  • A search bar for visitors to immediately search the site for a keyword or resource.
  • A bold new menu bar that serves two purposes: first, it enables visitors to hover and navigate three levels deep on the site to find products and technical information; and second, first-time visitors can easily see what ISA offers – membership, training and certification, standards and publications, conferences and events, news and press releases, resources for different types of professionals, information arranged by technical topic, professional development resources, and a store showcasing ISA’s product suite.
  • A campaign area for ISA to call out its latest news, trending stories, and industry happenings.
  • Under the campaign area, there are featured products, calling attention to key ISA resources available in the store.
  • The technical topics menu, a primary feature in the middle of the home page, allows visitors to click to a technical topic of interest and see ISA articles, products, and technical papers related to that topic.
ISA_home_page_lower1

Bottom portion of new ISA home page

As we move down the home page to the next view, we see the bottom half of the home page, which features several useful content areas:

  • A section called “Welcome to ISA” that gives a more in-depth introduction to the Society and its mission.
  • A news “widget” that pulls in ISA news as well as articles and stories from across industry in the “global news” tab.
  • An events “widget” that showcases upcoming ISA events on one tab, and upcoming Section and industry events in the “global events” tab.
  • An InTech features section, providing easy access to feature stories from the most recent issue of ISA’s flagship publication, InTech magazine.
  • A running list of the most recent postings available on the ISA jobs page.
  • A recent video from ISA or one of our sponsoring companies, bringing a multimedia flavor to the home page layout.

The new ISA homepage has been designed with you – the ISA member, the ISA customer, and the consumer of information – in mind. We hope you find it easy to navigate, useful, and interesting.

We can’t wait to launch the site this spring and get your feedback – together, we can make the website a place you’ll visit often to find the latest and greatest information available in the world of automation.

Pat Gouhin

About the Author
Pat Gouhin is Executive Director and CEO of the International Society of Automation.  Before joining ISA, Pat served as chief operating officer of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and as the first vice president of Operations and Technology Transfer for the National Institute of Aerospace at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.  He earned a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical and astronautical engineering from Ohio State University and a master’s degree in engineering management from George Washington University.

 

A version of this article was published at the ISA website.

Cybersecurity – one of the 10 trends impacting the future of ISA

Cybersecurity – one of the 10 trends impacting the future of ISA

This post is authored by Peggie Koon, president of ISA 2014.

In my column in last month’s issue of ISA Insights, I mentioned five game-changing themes ISA leaders adopted as high-level directional strategic goals for the Society. Those goals originated from a discussion of trends impacting ISA’s future. In many cases ISA staff and volunteers who are subject matter experts (SME’s) in Cybersecurity shield graphicthese areas are already engaged in efforts to achieve these goals. In the months to come, future articles will focus on the game-changing themes or trends on the list that are already taking shape at ISA. Here’s the list of 10 trends leaders identified that will have a significant impact on the future of ISA.

  1. STEM – There is a declining proficiency and interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.
  2. Labor Shift – There is a shift towards outsourcing – from traditional end-user companies to contractors.
  3. BIG Data – There is an increasing dependency on analytics in making strategic decisions.
  4. Technology Dynamics – There is a quick churn on technology shelf life.
  5. Qualified?? – The emergence of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) for free and certifications continue to challenge how employers determine if the workforce is qualified.
  6. Cybersecurity – Cyber threats are real and growing.  There is an increasing need for counter action and response.
  7. Aging Workforce – There is a growing skills gap due to aging (skills supply versus demand).
  8. Membership or Products?? – The traditional membership model is changing. Individuals, companies, and associations are placing less value on membership in professional associations. In associations there is a shift from growth from membership to growth from selling products and services to audiences that include members and other “users.”
  9. Increasing Uncertainty of Economic Predictability – There is growing uncertainty because of the fast dynamic shifts in influencers (countries, economic blocks, companies, weather events, etc.) that are impacting the global economy.
  10. Energy Demand – There is a growing global demand for energy, including an increase in major investments to meet the demand. Former importers are becoming exporters and vice versa. And the shale business is feeding resurgence in the chemical industry and a growing emphasis on sustainability.

Although cybersecurity is not at the top of the list above, it’s a trend that is “top of mind” for many ISA leaders, staff, and volunteer SME’s. And it is particularly important to me personally, not just because it’s a hot topic and because of its importance to our national security, but because I just happen to live near Fort Gordon, Georgia, which has just been named the new home of Army Cyber Command or (ARCYBER) – “the lead for Army missions, actions, and functions related to cyberspace, serving as the single point of contact for reporting and assessing Army cyberspace incidents, event and operations and for synchronizing and integrating Army responses.”

This week I had the privilege of hearing Lt. General Edward C. Cardon, Commanding General US Army Cyber Command, speak to community and business leaders to explain what this relocation will mean to us as individuals – to our roads and infrastructure, our communities, our school system (which must respond by increasing the emphasis on STEM), our labor and workforce development efforts (so we can provide the tools and training to help civilians in our community take advantage of the new cyber jobs that will come with the relocation), and more.

General Cardon said Fort Gordon’s growth will not only include ARCYBER but also the Cyber Missions Unit, the Cyber Center for Excellence, NSA Georgia, and the Signal Command. General Cardon also said 30 percent of the cyber workforce will be civilian.  This means that cyber organizations (both government and private industry) must be able to hire and recruit the right workforce. He also talked about the “other” side of cyber – the phenomenal global growth of Internet, mobile, cloud, and wireless and the impact new, fast-growing, smaller disruptive technologies like WhatsApp and Glimmerglass are having on our world. General Cardon challenged our community to take advantage of our brand and to create an environment – to become that place where cyber professionals and companies want to be. I left the meeting acutely aware of the opportunities ARCYBER will bring to our community.  And community and business leaders affirmed their commitment to embrace and take advantage of the opportunity.

General Cardon said when he was given the assignment his first response was that there were many others in Army intelligence who could lead the effort. But his Commander said he was bringing him in to “operationalize” cyber – to organize and execute the initiative in time and space. His speech was not so much about cyber but about the cyber opportunity for our community and what we must do to take advantage of it. You can listen to General Cardon’s speech by visiting this news site.

As I reflect on his speech, I can immediately draw parallels to the opportunity cyber presents ISA if we, too, are able to “operationalize” our efforts to respond. For ISA, cyber brings opportunities for growth in support of control system cybersecurity, workforce development, and STEM.

One of the high-level goals ISA leaders identified for 2014 and beyond is being the global authority for industrial control system cybersecurity. When we talk about cyber threats, the natural tendency for all of us – including our government – has been to think of identity theft and other cyber attacks affecting traditional information technology (IT) systems – and not cyber threats to operational technology (OT) systems affecting our nation’s critical infrastructure (e.g. systems that control the operations of our manufacturing plants, chemical plants, water/utilities, power, etc.). But over the past year ISA has worked diligently to raise awareness of the control system challenge of cyber in OT. Thanks to the Automation Federation and the tireless efforts and commitment of Mike Marlowe, Leo Staples, Eric Cosman, Steve Huffman, Steve Mustard, Johan Nye, Pat Gouhin, and numerous other members of ISA staff, volunteer leaders, and SME’s, the Society has taken a leadership role as it relates to OT cybersecurity, specifically for industrial control systems – not just in the US but around the world.

Steve Mustard, a cybersecurity SME and member of ISA, wrote a very informative article entitled, “The NIST Cybersecurity Framework: Improving critical infrastructure protection.” Steve is engaged with the White House and NIST (National Institute of Standards & Technology) to help raise industry awareness of the need to adopt the framework for our nation’s critical infrastructure. In his article, Steve cites that President Obama, in his Executive Order, defines critical infrastructure as: “Systems and assets, whether physical or virtual, so vital to the United States that the incapacity or destruction of such systems and assets would have a debilitating impact on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination of those matters.”

For a complete list of ISA’s cybersecurity products and services as well as details on President Obama’s Executive Order, ISA’s engagement with NIST, and upcoming cybersecurity events and meetings, information on FIRST, and more, go to www.isa.org.

ISA99/IEC 62443 is a recognized standard for the NIST cybersecurity framework for critical infrastructure protection against cybersecurity threats. However, in his article, Steve shares that “despite the availability of standards, it is clear that many organizations are not applying them to the degree required.” The article clearly explains the state of cybersecurity, the cybersecurity framework development process, and what organizations should be doing.  According to Steve, next steps include: “At the completion of the workshop phase of development, the Automation Federation and its member organizations will work with the White House and NIST on a series of tabletop exercises and seminars across the country to brief industry sectors about the importance of adopting the NIST Cybersecurity Framework. In addition, the Automation Federation’s cybersecurity subject-matter experts will continue to be engaged in the cybersecurity framework development process.”

ISA and the Automation Federation are integrally involved in this effort. Is ISA positioned to fully take advantage of the cybersecurity opportunity?  What are ISA’s next steps? Are we “operationalized” enough to change the current standard or to develop new standards as cybersecurity threats evolve?

An important component of the Automation Federation’s cybersecurity initiative is the building of a trained workforce in automation and control. The Automation Federation is reaching out to community colleges through its partnership with the American Association of Community Colleges to create the US Automation Community College Consortium and to develop new automation curriculum.

ISA has also developed a new certificate program, the ISA99/IEC 62443 Cybersecurity Fundamentals Specialist Certificate, “to help professionals involved in information technology and control systems security improve their understanding of ISA99/IEC 62443 principles and acquire a command of industrial cybersecurity terminology.” ISA is already engaged with Cleveland Community College to develop industrial operations and cybersecurity training programs in support of these workforce readiness initiatives. Can this be replicated at other technical institutions in the US around the globe?  Is ISA “operationalized” to change the current training programs as cybersecurity threats and opportunities evolve?

Another high-level goal identified for 2014 and beyond is cradle-to-grave advocacy of automation as a career. This goal includes increasing engagement in STEM initiatives. An increased emphasis on STEM is critical to our nation’s ability to embrace the cyber opportunity – not just to respond to cybersecurity threats but to continually take advantage of the phenomenal growth of opportunities in cyber so that our workforce of the future – the students of today – are able to live and thrive in a cyber-enabled world. ISA is already engaged with the Automation Federation in FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology).  But what else might we do?

So what does this mean for ISA, for YOU, and for me? These trends confirm that ISA has several tremendous opportunities for our future – cybersecurity is just one of them. You and I can help ISA “operationalize” cybersecurity – to organize the time and efforts of staff and volunteers and to determine ways to optimally utilize our resources – people, products, and services – so we can take advantage of the opportunity. We must also be willing to change so we are agile and we can innovate as the cybersecurity landscape evolves and changes.

Finally, we must exude the “magic” that General Cardon said he finds in every successful organization. These organizations have people who want to contribute, who want to come to work, who have a positive attitude, and who are able to pump energy into the organization.

Because of all of YOU, ISA already has the “magic! The ISA brand is already recognized around the globe. Our challenge then is to take advantage of our brand and to create an environment – so that ISA becomes the place where cybersecurity professionals and companies want to be.

So what are we waiting for? Let’s DO this!

About the Author
Peggie Koon_2Peggie Koon, Ph.D., is vice president of audience at Chronicle Media and The Augusta Chronicle, which are part of Morris Publishing Group, LLC, a privately held media company based in Augusta, Ga. Prior to joining Morris, Peggie spent more than 25 years developing IT systems for process automation and process control in a variety of industries, including automotive, nuclear defense, aerospace, nuclear reprocessing, thermal ceramics and textiles. Peggie assumed her first ISA leadership position in 1996 as membership chair of the Management Division and has held a variety of prominent leadership roles in the Society. She earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Smith College in Northampton, Mass. and completed graduate studies in industrial and systems engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She received a doctorate in management information systems from Kennedy Western University in Cheyenne, Wyo.

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

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