ISA Automation Week Revisited Comes to Canada

ISA Automation Week Revisited Comes to Canada

This post is written by ISA Automation Week project manager Carol Schafer

Plant managers, engineers and technicians all work hard to lower operating costs, reduce or eliminate downtime, optimize processes, and safeguard data and networks from cyber-intruders – all the while keeping personnel safety as a top priority.  Whew!  That’s a tall order, and the solutions are often complex and overlapping.  The daunting task of simultaneously keeping up with state-of-the-art-methods for asset performance management, intelligent device integration, and network security is made easier when you Oil and gas processing plantleverage the knowledge of others who have already made significant gains in these areas.

For instance, most plants employ smart instrumentation to measure process variables like pressure, temperature, level and flow.  That’s good – but it’s not enough.  With more and more emphasis on cutting costs without compromising safety, the ability to use the valuable information stored in intelligent devices can help lower costs significantly and increase the business bottom line.

And, as another example of the many challenges faced by industrial facilities, most manufacturers do employ firewalls to safeguard their data, formulae, and systems – but there are easy ways around system firewalls.  And control systems – which are designed to run for years without interruption – are notoriously riddled with vulnerabilities to cyber-attack.

If you or your team are responsible for the efficient, safe, and secure operation of a process control system, the more you can learn from subject matter experts in these areas, the less expense and time you will invest to get excellent results.

Consider attending events such as the ISA Edmonton Automation Expo & Conference on April 30 where ISA will present the first ISA Automation Week Revisited conference, with four popular sessions selected by the ISA Edmonton Section.

Two sessions will focus on cybersecurity as Michael Firstenberg, director of industrial security for Waterfall Security, walks attendees through “13 Ways Through a Firewall” and then explain the “elephants in the room” of control system security.  Additionally, expert advisor Vincent Chiew will cover ICS security roles from various interdependent critical infrastructures in the “Overview of the ICS Security Landscape” session.

The ISA Edmonton Automation Expo & Conference on April 30 will present ISA Automation Week Revisited. Click this link to register.
Two more sessions, delivered by ARC Advisory Group’s Paula Hollywood, will discuss asset performance strategies and cover ways in which plant floor intelligence may be used to improve plant safety as well as performance in sessions “Asset Performance Management: A Key Strategy for Success” and “Getting More From Plant Intelligence.”

This one-day conference is designed to be interactive in nature, so that attendees have multiple opportunities to engage with the speakers and others attending the sessions.  A chance to ask real-time questions and get specific responses and interaction on how to apply technologies, concepts and solutions to your particular manufacturing environment makes ISA Automation Week Revisited in Edmonton such a wise investment for anyone working in process automation.

For more information on sessions and presenters, click this link.

Carol Schafer

About the Author
Carol M. Schafer has more than 35 years of experience in the industrial automation and control field as a technical sales and marketing professional.  She spent 14 years in the field as principal of a manufacturer’s representative company, selling flow and humidity products, air and gas analyzers, CEM equipment, and sampling systems.  She also worked for several years as the East Coast sales manager for a leading weather instrument/systems manufacturer.  Carol joined ISA in 1996, and is currently project manager for the Society’s annual conference, ISA Automation Week.  She also serves as a senior consultant with the ISA Corporate Partnerships Program.  She obtained a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the California State University at Sacramento, and a master’s degree in business administration from San Jose State University.

Automation Week 2013: most thought-provoking and far-reaching technical program ever

This post is authored by Terrence G. Ives, president of ISA 2013.

In slightly less than two months, ISA will conduct its premier international conference for automation and control professionals: the 2013 ISA Automation Week Technology and Solutions Event.  I am convinced that the technical program for this year’s event, to be held 5-7 November in Nashville, Tennessee, USA, is the most thought-provoking, far-reaching, and meaningful ever.

I believe this because the entire program is designed to illustrate how automation decisions can directly influencproduction line in modern dairy factorye virtually every operational factor within an organization, from overall business performance and profitability to workforce productivity and plant safety.  By shedding light on the ramifications of various automation decisions and processes – on business health, human resources, technology, and safety – session experts and presenters will provide a best practices roadmap to more positive, predictable, and complete organizational results.

Attendees will learn how automation affects and is affected by other organizational dynamics, and why no automation function or job role can be defined solely on its own merits.  They will recognize that actions taken in one area, such as migrating to a new technology, can sometimes lead to adverse effects in others, ranging from higher total cost of ownership to gaps in employee training and inadequate safety procedures.

Without a doubt, ISA Automation Week 2013 provides a great opportunity to put you ahead of the curve in your career, and in position to improve the overall welfare of your company.  As an added incentive to encourage automation professionals – both ISA members and non-ISA members – to attend ISA Automation Week, ISA is conducting the WIN-WIN Attendee Rewards program.

To participate, you must begin by registering for the event if you haven’t already done so.  Then, get as many of your industry colleagues and friends to register.  Each time you attract another person to the conference, you receive $25 in ISA Automation Week dollars that can be redeemed for ISA merchandise, books, and apparel at the ISA Bookstore at the event.  In addition, each new registrant also gains $25 in ISA Automation Week dollars. Now that’s a win-win!

In addition, a component of the program provides an opportunity for ISA sections to gain special on-site recognition as well as cash prizes that can be used to fund section programs and activities.  Each ISA section that participates in WIN-WIN Attendee Rewards will receive, in cash, 2.5 percent of the total value of its section member registration.  And the ISA section that has the highest percentage of member registrations will receive a cash payment equal to 5 percent of the total value of its section member registration.  That’s cash that can be used for all section events and activities…aAutomation Week 2013nother win-win!

Beyond that, the ISA sections with the top three percentage of section member registration will receive significant on-site conference privileges and high-profile recognition as well as special prizes for registered section members.  Review the entire list of section rewards at the bottom of the WIN-WIN Attendee Rewards web page.

I invite you to visit www.isaautomationweek.org to gain all the details about ISA Automation Week 2013, including the full technical program, author resources, solutions providers, attendee resources, the complete conference schedule, hotel arrangements, and registration. For answers to any questions, please call ISA at +1 919-549-8411.

ISA Automation Week 2013 is destined to be a real game changer. I look forward to seeing you there.

About the AuthorTerrence G. Ives
Terrence G. Ives is the third-generation president and owner of Ives Equipment Corporation in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, a process control manufacturing representative and stocking distributor. Terry has been actively involved in ISA leadership for many years. He has held numerous positions at the local and Society level including Society Treasurer, Executive Board Parliamentarian, Finance Committee Chair, Investment Committee Chair, District 2 Vice President, and Philadelphia Section President and Exhibit Chairman. He received a bachelor of science degree in industrial systems engineering from Ohio University.
The cybersecurity threat – taking it personally

The cybersecurity threat – taking it personally

This recurring blog covers news about ISA Automation Week: Technology and Solutions Event from the unique viewpoint of the event’s project manager, Carol Schafer.  With a technical background to draw on, a penchant for humor and the inside track on conference updates, Carol informs and entertains with messages that are always illuminating and often downright funny.

If you’re threatening the security, safety or long-term viability of my workplace, you’re threatening me. And I don’t like it.  I take it personally.  And so should every person working in critical infrastructure facilities, because there are literally thousands of people in this world who do nothing all day, every day, but sit in a room figuring out ways to get through firewalls (easy – they do it all the time) and once they’re in, imagination is the only limit to the damage they can do.Cyber-Attack

We’re all aware of the so-called “cybersecurity threat,” and we hear a lot of casual conversation about it with comments like “Oh, a cyber-attack, yes, that sure would be terrible if it ever happened to some poor besieged company.”  None of us doubt that hackers and cyber terrorists are out there working hard.  After all, everyone’s heard about Stuxnet, so we all know, at least, that SCADA systems are potential targets.  We just don’t believe it will happen to us. We just don’t take it personally.

But the fact is, your company’s firewall (if your facility even has one) is likely being compromised while you’re reading this.  At the very least, cyber attackers are banging on that firewall repeatedly like a battering ram on a castle door.  With most SCADA and controls systems accessible to the Internet, sensitive information and critical processes are essentially vulnerable to having their back doors pried open to anything – or anybody – on the worldwide web.

This isn’t particularly “breaking news.”  I still remember my shock –and considerable anger – when I discovered that hackers had infiltrated the extremely modern 486 computer on which we ran our manufacturer’s rep business years ago in California’s Silicon Valley.  The CPU usage indicated 92 percent when the computer was idle and the hard drive light was always on – an “old school” alarm that told us something was wrong.  Invading subroutines had barged in over the Internet, installed themselves inside our nice warm PC and were happily grinding away, doing massive numbers of computations for their hacker masters.  Take it personally?  You bet I did.

Back then, safeguarding infrastructure and critical facilities like oil platforms, nuke plants or wastewater facilities wasn’t top of mind.  But today, we must face the staggering odds in favor of a major facility being taken off-line, having sensitive information stolen, or losing valuable intellectual property through cybersecurity breaches.  The possibilities for extortion, weakening of defense capabilities, the loss of intellectual property, and the crippling of communities – or even countries – so that an invading tyrant can make demands are simply overwhelming.

So if we know all this, why does it seem so difficult to take it personally – that is, to realize that individually we have a measure of the overall responsibility and take whatever actions we can?  It’s certainly not for lack of caring or good intention.  Here are my four favorite answers to that question:

  1. The consequences of a cybersecurity breach are overwhelming.  Humans find it hard to accept the eventuality of potentially catastrophic events. And no one can anticipate and monitor every single threat vector within a facility.  Admitting that our process controls or SCADA systems have weaknesses for which we are responsible is decidedly uncomfortable.  It’s much easier just to hope it never happens.  I know all about that, because that’s often what I do with regard to my home PC and laptops.  I don’t want to think about what might happen if all my personal information becomes available to hackers – but I find it overwhelming deciding which of the many anti-virus program to install (and I wonder if the anti-virus programs carry viruses), and I don’t know how often I should update to protect against the latest viruses. So I let anti-virus program updates go far too long because, after all, I’ll probably be okay, right?  Risky assumption!
  2. Automation systems are often an integration of technologies supplied from all over the world.  This creates thousands of potential vulnerabilities that are difficult to anticipate.  For example, how do we know what software might be lying dormant in an NIC (network interface card) until it’s installed and activated?
  3. Financially, some companies handle the risk of damage or loss from cyber-attack with an insurance policy, covering themselves for “business interruption.”  The safety of the plant and its employees and the welfare of the community at large are not well considered when business risks are seen as purely financial in nature.  An insurance policy may be revealed as a poor strategy in the aftermath of a security breach which severely impacts profitability, threatens the viability of the enterprise and compromises human safety.
  4. Taking cybersecurity personally means remaining ever-vigilant.  And that’s nearly impossible for humans to do.  For example, if a controls operator turns off the alarms on the system because he doesn’t need them for that part of the process, and then forgets to turn them back on later when he does need them, he will not know if a parameter has been changed by a cyber-attack while the alarms were turned off.  I’m not picking on my I&C pals here, but with everything a controls engineer must do at any given moment, human error is inevitable over time.  The controls operator also must decide what indicators, buried within the metric ton of plant data available at any given moment, should be considered anomalies or constitute a threat.  Again…overwhelming.

What Automation Week 2013can we do, now that we are all standing together and taking the cyber threat thing personally?  (We are, aren’t we?  Yes, I thought we were.)  The answer is, we can do one thing more than we did yesterday, and every step forward reduces the chance that we’ll wake up the next day, boot up our computer, and see a message from a cyber-hack demanding that we open our windows and shout “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore” or else they’ll make us all watch endless reruns of The Gong Show.  <shiver>  No, thanks.

Here are a couple of suggestions for “getting personal” with cybersecurity, outside of what you can find in the (overwhelming) amount of research and data available:

  1. Get some knowledge, especially that hard-to-find knowledge you can get from your peers who have “been there.”  I would refer you to ISA Automation Week, a conference of your peers featuring many well-respected experts in the field of industrial infrastructure cybersecurity.  The Industrial Network Security Track is chock-full of information that you will only get one-on-one and not in a text book.  And there are several high-level discussions with industry experts that won’t often appear in front of an industrial audience to tell what they know about the infrastructure security.  Check it out.
  2. Employ a cybersecurity standard.  The ISA99 standard on Industrial Automation and Control Systems Security is a free download for ISA members and available to non-members as well. We’ll have knowledgeable people at ISA Automation Week who can help answer questions about the standards and practices of ICS security as well.
  3. Stay vigilant and trust your instincts.  You know what you know. If you see something…say something.

Okay, autopros*, I’m outta here.  Actually, I have to go home and install a new anti-virus program on my laptop.  It’s been a while.  And you know how I feel – I take it personally.

*autopros = automation professionals … remember?

Carol Schafer

About the Author
Carol M. Schafer has more than 35 years of experience in the industrial automation and control field as a technical sales and marketing professional.  She spent 14 years in the field as principal of a manufacturer’s representative company, selling flow and humidity products, air and gas analyzers, CEM equipment, and sampling systems.  She also worked for several years as the East Coast sales manager for a leading weather instrument/systems manufacturer.  Carol joined ISA in 1996, and is currently project manager for the Society’s annual conference, ISA Automation Week.  She also serves as a senior consultant with the ISA Corporate Partnerships Program.  She obtained a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the California State University at Sacramento, and a master’s degree in business administration from San Jose State University.
Big Data Focus at 2013 ISA Water/Wastewater Symposium

Big Data Focus at 2013 ISA Water/Wastewater Symposium

This guest post is authored by Graham Nasby, general symposium chair of the 2013 ISA Water/Wastewater and Automatic Controls Symposium.

Big Data is Big News in just about every corner of our digitally connected world.  Leveraging massive amounts of process data archives is a game changer for practically any industrial process, enabling greater levels of agility, efficiency and competitiveness.  This year’s 2013 ISA Water/Wastewater and Automatic Controls Symposium will deliver the most current information on Big Data with a keynoteWaste Water system presentation by Carey E. Hidaka of IBM Software Group.  Carey’s speech, “Using Data from Municipal Water/Wastewater SCADA Systems (and Other Sources) to Make Smarter Operational, Maintenance, and Infrastructure Investment Decisions” focuses on how Big Data approaches to plant optimization can reap real rewards.

The ISA water/wastewater symposium, to be held 6-8 August in Orlando, Fla., also will showcase “smart water,” or the intelligent application of application automation technology to municipal water and wastewater plants.  The modern municipal water treatment plant now includes a sophisticated automated control system, carefully designed operator interfaces and advanced data analytics for process automation.  All of this infrastructure must be designed, built, operated and maintained by a highly skilled workforce.  The ISA symposium serves as an ideal venue for professionals from operations, maintenance, design and integration to share ideas, network and learn about new technologies.

In addition to the Big Data keynote, the 2013 ISA water/wastewater symposium also features  37 technical speakers, three invited speakers and guest speakers from the Water Environment Federation (WEF) and the Florida Section of the American Water Works Association (AWWA).

Other notable symposium presentations include:

  • Smart Water Networks for Operational Efficiency Gains
    – Brian Heimbigner and Mark Bitto, ABB
  • Risks of Smart Water Applications – Rigorous Risk Assessment of the Adoption of Smart Water Applications
    – Andreas Hauser, Thomas Stoertkuhl, Klaus Estenfeld amd E. Earl Eiland -TÜV SÜD AG
  • Using Procedural Automation to Improve Operational Efficiency with ISA106
    – Marcus Tennant and Leila Myers, Yokogawa
  • SCADA Control and Monitoring Of Groundwater Remediation Facilities: Past, Present And Planning For The Future
    – Obadiah Kilonzo and Kevin Flemming, Carolina Automation Systems
  • Simulate Your Way out of a Difficult Real Time Control Problem: Automatically Controlling Gates to Reduce Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs)
    – Maxym Lachance,TetraTech and Sid Lodewyk, City of Edmonton (Alberta, Canada)

To view a complete list presentations for the 2013 ISA Water/Wastewater and Automatic Controls Symposium, visit:  www.isawwsymposium.com/technical-speakers-list.

Registration for the three-day symposium is now open at: www.isawwsymposium.com/register.  Discounts are available for ISA, WEF and AWWA members.  Register by July 2 to receive early-bird pricing.

About thGraham Nasby_100pe Author
Graham Nasby, PE, PMP is the general symposium chair of the 2013 ISA Water/Wastewater and Automatic Controls Symposium, which is being held 6-8 August in Orlando, Fla. at the Crowne Plaza Orlando-Universal Hotel.  Nasby is a senior member of the ISA and a voting member of the ISA18 alarm management standards committee.  He works as a senior instrumentation & control engineer with Eramosa Engineering Inc. Contact: graham.nasby@eramosa.com.
ISA technical symposia successes and spreading the word about ISA Automation Week 2013

ISA technical symposia successes and spreading the word about ISA Automation Week 2013

This post is authored by Terrence G. Ives, president of ISA 2013.

While summer is just now warming up, ISA’s season of conferences and events is well on its way to another sizzling success.

To date, ISA has conducted five of the seven technical division symposia scheduled for the year: the 58th Analysis Business Meeting, outsideDivision Symposium in April; the 59th International Instrumentation Symposium and MFPT 2013 in mid-May; the 13th ISA LDAR-Fugitive Emissions Symposium, also in mid-May; the 2013 Communications Division Symposium in late May; and the 56th Power Industry (POWID) Division Symposium this last week.

The two upcoming events are the 2013 ISA Water/Wastewater and Automatic Controls Symposium, which will be held 6-8 August in Orlando; and the 8th ISA Marketing and Sales Summit, which will be held 11-13 September in New Orleans.

And, of course, ISA wraps up its major events in 2013 with ISA Automation Week 2013 – the showcase technology and solutions event for automation and control professionals – 5-7 November in Nashville.

Here is a quick recap of the five ISA symposia held to date:

  • Nearly 400 attendees and more than 60 exhibitors gathered at ISA’s 58th Analysis Division Symposium. This year, 12 technical sessions and 35 technical papers covered leading-edge topics in sampling, chromatography, spectroscopy, chemiluminescence and other analytical techniques
  • ISA’s joint conference with the Machinery Failure Prevention Technology (MFPT) Society – the 59th International Instrumentation and MFPT 2013 – attracted more than 200 attendees to learn about the latest advances in instrumentation and mechanical failure prevention, and to consider synergies between the two professional associations. In total, more than 120 technical papers and presentations were delivered, 58 through ISA and 62 through MFPS.
  • More than 200 professionals responsible for maintaining leak detection and repair programs and reducing air emissions attended ISA’s annual Fugitive Emissions-LDAR Symposium. A highlight of the conference was a panel discussion involving EPA regulatory officials and LDAR experts. Attendees came away knowing what they need to do to comply with regulations, and how to implement best practices.
  • ISA’s 2013 Communications Division Symposium was highlighted by the Society’s third workshop on passive wireless sensor technologies, and an examination of the new trends, equipment, software and protocols involved with transmitting, reporting and processing real-time data. On hand were a stellar group of industrial communications experts who helped attendees sort out the maze of communications-related changes and challenges occurring in the marketplace.
  • Attendees at ISA’s 56th POWID Symposium, conducted recently in Orlando, received updates on cybersecurity, regulatory changes, and other power-generation challenges. Sessions showcased the latest news in nuclear, fossil fuel, and renewable energy, and explored the type of regulations that may implemented under the new Congress and second-term president.

To those who attended our five technical division symposia to date, I sincerely thank you for your participation. By being involved – either as a general attendee, presenter, organizer, or other contributor – you’re part of the effort that keeps ISA active, engaging, and alive with new ideas and perspectives.

ISA is committed to offering technical symposia brimming with high-value, expert-driven technical content. It’s part of our tradition and a core competency that sets us apart. Some of our technical conferences – notably those sponsored by ISA’s Analysis, International Instrumentation, and Power Industry divisions–have been held for more than 50 years. And I believe we’re just getting started.

Automation Week 2013Looking ahead, I encourage ISA members to spread the word about our two remaining symposia, and Automation Week 2013.

The 2013 ISA Water/Wastewater and Automatic Controls Symposium offers a unique opportunity for automation, instrumentation and SCADA professionals in the water and wastewater sectors to share ideas, network and earn continuing education credits. The event includes two full days of technical speakers/presentations, networking events, a poster session, and a supplier showcase. A tour of a local water treatment facility, and two short courses on SCADA cybersecurity and flow meter section/sizing are optional. More information is available at www.isawwsymposium.com.

For marketing and sales professionals targeting the automation marketplace, the 8th ISA Marketing and Sales Summit is the event to attend. This year’s summit focuses on the new ideas and out-of-the-box thinking needed to succeed in the fast-changing automation marketplace. Key topic areas include: best practices in social media, guerilla marketing, brand marketing, market-driven product development, winning complex accounts, business development, and advertising in the digital age. Early bird registration is now open at www.marketingsalessummit.com.

This year’s ISA Automation Week event will be particularly thought-provoking and meaningful as it is designed to demonstrate how to fully leverage the power and potential of automation solutions. The conference is built on the premise that decisions in one organizational area can have significant, sometimes counteractive, effects in others, and that the key lies in addressing core operational needs – in safety, people, business, and technology – in a more proactive, farsighted, and integrated manner.

Please, join me in getting the word out loud and clear that this is a can’t-miss event. And emphasize that all attendees can save $150 by registering by 20 August 2013. For more information about ISA Automation Week 2013, visit www.isaautomationweek.org.

To date, 2013 has been a strong year for ISA events. Let’s make sure we end the year on an even stronger note. As always, thanks for all that you do to contribute to and support ISA.

About the AuthorTerrence G. Ives
Terrence G. Ives is the third-generation president and owner of Ives Equipment Corporation in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, a process control manufacturing representative and stocking distributor. Terry has been actively involved in ISA leadership for many years. He has held numerous positions at the local and Society level including Society Treasurer, Executive Board Parliamentarian, Finance Committee Chair, Investment Committee Chair, District 2 Vice President, and Philadelphia Section President and Exhibit Chairman. He received a bachelor of science degree in industrial systems engineering from Ohio University.
Need Automation Workers?  Who You Gonna Call?

Need Automation Workers? Who You Gonna Call?

This recurring blog covers news about ISA Automation Week: Technology and Solutions Event from the unique viewpoint of the event’s project manager, Carol Schafer.  With a technical background to draw on, a penchant for humor and the inside track on conference updates, Carol informs and entertains with messages that are always illuminating and often downright funny.

Everybody’s talking about the lack of qualified automation professionals – “autopros” as I have referred to these fine folks in previous blogs – to meet the needs of process manufacturers starving for employees. Everybody’s talking about it, but some are doing something about it.  Here at ISA, we do both.  Talking is my forte (ask around), and every good idea necessarily starts with talking.  But putting programs and resources in place to increase the numbers of engineers and control panel in factorytechnicians coming into the workforce takes some doing.  If you’re entering the workforce, or you are already an autopro (love that word), you’re either being groomed to join us (resistance is futile), or you may be helping someone else prepare to join us.  To maintain profitability, quality, and the sustainability of process manufacturers, we all need to pitch in.

ISA, as the professional society for autopros, is very involved in getting students interested in manufacturing and engineering careers, and in helping provide the necessary mentors to assist those entering the industrial workforce increase their relevancy, expertise, and knowledge earlier than they could otherwise.

What does this have to do with you?  I’ll give you three answers to this question toward the bottom of this blog.  But don’t skip down there now, or they won’t make any sense. (Yes, they will, I just want you to read the whole article so you don’t miss any of the great stuff in the middle.)

So what does one need to know, or be prepared for, upon entering the automation profession?  Sure, you need technical knowledge and you can get some of that in school, but here’s my personal take on the subject – not to be confused with actual advice or counsel:

  1. Accept that none of your friends will “get” what you do – even if you explain it.
    When I had to tell people I sold “instruments” or worked in instrumentation and controls, they would usually ask “Like…guitars and stuff?”  “Uh…nnooo…never mind.”  I mean, you can try to explain… “So, listen, what I do is I tune the control loop which has to be done with instruments that have to be calibrated to within the right tolerance, and then we watch the batch recipe and we watch the EPA emissions because the stack has to be within a certain percentage of the…”  By now, you pals are staring into space or are already off talking to someone else anyway.  My advice?  Just tell them “It’s an autopro thing – you wouldn’t understand.”  Then be secretly excited that you are an insider in a profession so cool that it defies explanation!
  2. No education program will prepare you for entering your first automation and controls job – and much of what you learn will never be used.
    I’m not saying you don’t need college or a degree.  College is useful for a variety of things…but I digress.  Once you’re out of school and into your first automation job, you’ll find yourself relying on mentors and co-workers who are willing to share their intimate knowledge of the plant’s processes with you.  When the flow rate won’t stabilize, you won’t be able to “Google it” because installations are all unique.  You’ll need someone to let you in on the particulars of the system, its history, upgrades, and peculiarities – even its personality.  If you don’t think control systems can have personalities, consider Hal 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey.  Somebody’s got to get control of these systems – save humanity!
  3. Realize that – fresh out of school – you still won’t have enough training.
    You’ll need specialized training from your employer – and perhaps additional training from an organization like ISA in order to avoid the common mistakes made by engineers leaving school with a head full of calculus that they’ll likely never be asked to use on the job.
  4. Be prepared to find out that the breadth and types of knowledge you need is vast – and can’t be obtained overnight.  Figure out early how to align yourself with others – such as fellow members in a professional society like ISA – who can help you grow and learn.  Ask them what training they have taken and what they recommend.  Ask them how membership in a professional society has helped them learn and grow in their profession so that they move forward and feel enthused, in control (no pun intended) and not just another pretty face around the control panel.
  5. You will belong.  If you are an individual thinker, a thoughtful problem-solver, a deductive, reasoned person, you belong here.  If, like me, you were the one to take apart electronic devices around the house and “fix” them when you were a kid – you’re going to love this profession. And you’ll be around others who “understand” you.  Speaking from a lifetime spent around engineers, technicians and autopros – it’s an addictive, and exciting career choice.

There are lots of ways to participate and to belong.  Check this out:

The ISA Mentor Program can be a key to your success or a platform for you to share what you know.  For students in the ISA Mentor Program during 2011, ISA Automation Week 2012 was a game-changer.  Their expectations about the conference were dramatically changed when they realized they were going to learn from and network with the best in the business.  Greg McMillan, respected autopro, author, and expert in the field is a key mentor in this program, along with Hunter Vegas and other volunteers who give of themselves for the next generation.   NOTE:  Greg McMillan will host a tutorial on the ISA Mentor Program within the Industrial Automation & Controls education track at ISA Automation Week 2013.  Come and meet Greg and see how the program has impacted its mentees over the past two years

Automation Week 2013ISA student memberships are available. They are cheap ($10 – can you believe that?) and we work hard to integrate them into the automation community.  We’ll talk about student sections, how you can get involved, what their value is to the business and to the technical side of automation at ISA Automation Week as well.

By now, I bet you just can’t wait to get to Nashville and the ISA Automation Week 2013 conference.  I can’t either.  Let’s meet in Nashville.  Let’s get this thing rolling, and learn how to help take responsibility for the sustainability of our industrial workforce.  It’s going to help us, and it’s going to help the industry (whichever category you fall in, let’s reverse the shortage of qualified automation professionals.)

 

Carol Schafer

About the Author
Carol M. Schafer has more than 35 years of experience in the industrial automation and control field as a technical sales and marketing professional.  She spent 14 years in the field as principal of a manufacturer’s representative company, selling flow and humidity products, air and gas analyzers, CEM equipment, and sampling systems.  She also worked for several years as the East Coast sales manager for a leading weather instrument/systems manufacturer.  Carol joined ISA in 1996, and is currently project manager for the Society’s annual conference, ISA Automation Week.  She also serves as a senior consultant with the ISA Corporate Partnerships Program.  She obtained a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the California State University at Sacramento, and a master’s degree in business administration from San Jose State University.

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