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

Since this will be my last blog post as Society President, I would like to thank you for all of your contributions to our profession and to ISA as well as for your support over the past year.

My experience as 2018 ISA president has made me deeply aware of the importance and relevance of the Society—particularly in light of the many changes and challenges that we faced over the last 18 months—and of the outstanding contributions and efforts that have been asked of ISA leadership, members, and staff during this time.

It is immensely gratifying and inspiring to see how much has been accomplished over these many months and recognize how these accomplishments have positioned the Society for much greater success in the months and years ahead. ISA has put in place the strategic foundation and plans needed to sustain a bright and prosperous future for the automation profession. We must never lose sight of the fact that automation makes our world a better and safer place for everyone.

In the New Year and beyond, ISA must look both inward and outward to: develop new growth opportunities, increase awareness of its value proposition, strengthen its brand, tap into new revenue streams, boost membership, and develop a proactive plan for engaging the next generation of leaders. To do so, ISA must be successful in three vital areas: operations, collaboration, and innovation.

We need to closely examine the operations at all levels of the Society to optimize systems and resources. Secondly, we need to seek out opportunities to collaborate, both within the Society (across geographic, technical, and operational boundaries) and with external entities (including government, academia, the Automation Federation, other professional organizations and members of the automation industry) where synergy either already exists or can be created. Strategic partnerships are key to collaboration and operational excellence.  

We entered 2018 with new and emerging technologies that allowed us to better engage with automation professionals in new and exciting ways and across the global playing field. New and emerging technologies are creating new opportunities for automation around the world, and are changing the roles, responsibilities, and needs of automation professionals. All of these developments are impacting ISA and its products, services, and customers.

ISA’s success depends on its ability to seize these opportunities while continuing to deliver value—both to individual members and to the global automation community.

In responding to its challenges, ISA has clearly defined its mission, vision, and goals in 2018, and the products and services to be delivered, the partnerships to be secured, and marketplace opportunities to be explored. We will continue to engage members, volunteers, and staff in the ongoing conversations in the weeks and months ahead.

ISA needs your help; you are already contributing by virtue of your ISA membership. In 2019, I challenge you to do even more. Seek out ways in which you can use your experience and expertise to serve. Introduce your colleagues and company to ISA. Make them aware of what ISA offers. Get more involved in your ISA section or division. Join an ISA LinkedIn group. Reach out to local, national, or global ISA leadership to inquire how you can help. Get involved!

Every generation of ISA membership has the opportunity and, I believe, the responsibility to move the Society forward in the world of automation. This is our time. The automation profession continues to make the world a better place. We should all be proud to be a part of the positive change automation has created. ISA plays a pivotal role in this process—helping members and other automation professionals improve their technical skills and knowledge, and enabling companies increase throughput, reduce waste, and improve productivity and profitability—both safely and securely. 

ISA has an obligation to help industry leaders as well as the public better recognize the value and benefits of automation. Through our collaboration with the Automation Federation, we’re just beginning to scratch the surface in leveraging our capabilities in industrial cybersecurity. While there is growing awareness among industry leaders of the risks of industrial cyberattack, we need to work harder to foster recognition in the marketplace that ISA offers real solutions to mitigate these risks. It’s also important to note that conversations about cybersecurity can serve as the door opener to educate those about other important ISA offerings and capabilities.

ISA also has benefited greatly over these past many months from the support and involvement of our corporate partners and sponsors. These relationships inspire new and collaborative ways of solving common challenges, make our members and customers aware of additional resources and capabilities that could benefit them, and foster best-practice approaches that advance the automation and control profession.

Section Engagement

Given their geographically based structure, ISA sections offer a convenient way for members to take part in ISA initiatives and events. Here are just a few ways you can get involved and contribute at the section level:

  • Team up with other ISA members to explore common professional interests.
  • Invite guest speakers to section meetings, creating a learning environment.
  • Arrange section tours of local plants and facilities.
  • Develop new networking, social and recreational events.
  • Speak at local technical colleges and universities to generate student interest in automation careers.
  • Encourage local students to attend section events and become ISA student members.

Division Involvement

As an ISA member, you should take full advantage of your two free technical division memberships: one from the Automation and Technology Department and one from the Industries and Sciences Department. Division memberships enable automation professionals the opportunity to:

  • Attend, help plan, and conduct technical division symposia and events.
  • Stay up to date on current technical trends and news by reading division newsletters and web sites.
  • Write, review, or present technical papers for ISA publications.
  • Network with colleagues across the globe.
  • Explore professional development opportunities and gain leadership skills.
  • Develop workshops and short courses for division members.
  • Exchange ideas and insights through email discussions.

ISA Training Programs

ISA, through its leading automation and control training programs, can better prepare technicians and engineers—from those new to the job market to the highly experienced—for the workplace demands and advanced manufacturing jobs of the future.

ISA’s worldwide leadership in automation and control training begins with its subject matter experts. ISA’s instructors and consultants are at the forefront in their field; their unrivaled knowledge and marketplace experience provide practical, real-world solutions. Why don’t you organize a training course for your section members or discuss ISA training courses with your employer?

As I reach the twilight of my year as 2018 Society President, I am gladly handing over the helm to President-Elect Paul Gruhn, who will steer the Society along the next leg of its voyage. I have full confidence that Paul—with the assistance of ISA Executive Director Mary Ramsey and ISA staff manning the engines—will guide ISA through the dawn of a new day and onto a brighter and prosperous future in 2019.

In closing, I want to express how grateful I am to have learned so much from previous ISA leaders with whom I have served, and to have gained and benefited from the experience of our current ISA leadership team that are now so many valuable friends. These relationships have been vital to me during my year as President and instrumental to my success on a professional and personal level.

My sincere thanks to all and best wishes for the New Year.

About the Author
Paul Gruhn is a global functional safety consultant at AE Solutions and a highly respected and awarded safety expert in the industrial automation and control field. Paul is an ISA Fellow, a member of the ISA84 standards committee (on safety instrumented systems), a developer and instructor of ISA courses on safety systems, and the primary author of the ISA book Safety Instrumented Systems: Design, Analysis, and Justification. He also has contributed to several automation industry book chapters and has written more than two dozen technical articles. He developed the first commercial safety system modeling software. Paul is a licensed Professional Engineer (PE) in Texas, a certified functional safety expert (CFSE), a member of the control system engineer PE exam team, and an ISA84 expert. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology. Paul is the 2018 ISA president-elect/secretary.

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

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