ISA Interchange

Welcome to the official blog of the International Society of Automation (ISA).

This blog covers numerous topics on industrial automation such as operations & management, continuous & batch processing, connectivity, manufacturing & machine control, and Industry 4.0.

The material and information contained on this website is for general information purposes only. ISA blog posts may be authored by ISA staff and guest authors from the automation community. Views and opinions expressed by a guest author are solely their own, and do not necessarily represent those of ISA. Posts made by guest authors have been subject to peer review.

All Posts

Automation Doesn’t Deserve its Bad Reputation

Automation gets a bad rap from many quarters. Politicians blame automation for the loss of manufacturing jobs, parents discourage their children from careers in dirty professions like engineering and automation, as they believe there are limited prospects for progression.
Yet, at the same time, everyone benefits from automation. Automation ensures essential services such as the provision of clean drinking water and electricity can be provided safely and cheaply. Automation ensures the traffic flows on our roads, and our airplanes can take off and land with minimal interaction from pilots. Automation ensures food and pharmaceuticals can be produced and distributed safely.

The automation profession has an incredibly diverse range of roles. Technicians and operators with associate degrees are responsible for operating and maintaining the automation systems needed to run facilities as diverse as a nuclear power station or an Amazon distribution center. Engineers with degrees or PhDs design the automation systems and processes needed, and this can involve complex math and physics, along with domain specifics such as chemistry. Vendors develop solutions based on the latest technology then sell and maintain these systems. Consultants provide specialist knowledge and advice on subjects such as cybersecurity.

Automation professionals use the most advanced technologies in the world to ensure reliable and safe operationsfrom virtual server environments running control systems to the use of augmented reality to help with design, construction, and maintenance activities.
The US Department of Labor’s Automation Competency Model (ACM) defines the key skills, knowledge, and abilities that automation professionals need from entry level to advanced career level. This is updated regularly to ensure that emerging technologies are included, recognizing that the automation profession is constantly evolving.

The International Society of Automation (ISA) is a professional society representing the automation profession and is an ANSI accredited Standards Development Organization that produces key guidance for the profession for topics such as wireless communications and process control. ISA develops training curricula to meet the needs of the automation profession, aligning with the ACM, as well as with working groups formed out of industry and academia. ISA offers certifications for technician and engineer level roles (Certified Control Systems Technician and Certified Automation Professional respectively), as well as certificate programs in functional safety and cybersecurity.

These certifications and certificate programs provide a means for assessing the competence of individuals in a profession where such competence is critical to the safety of people and the well-being of the environment.

Despite its bad rap, automation is an exciting and rewarding professionone that gives individuals the opportunity to use their technical skills to make the world a better place.

Steve Mustard
Steve Mustard
Steve Mustard is an independent automation consultant and a subject matter expert of the International Society of Automation (ISA). Backed by more than 30 years of engineering experience, Mustard specializes in the development and management of real-time embedded equipment and automation systems. He serves as president of National Automation, Inc., and served as the 2021 president of ISA. Mustard is a licensed Professional Engineer in Texas and Kansas, a UK registered Chartered Engineer, a European registered Eur Ing, an ISA Certified Automation Professional (CAP), a certified Global Industrial Cybersecurity Professional (GICSP), and a Certified Mission Critical Professional. He also is a Fellow in the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), a Senior Member of ISA, a member of the Safety and Security Committee of the Water Environment Federation (WEF), a board member of the Mission Critical Global Alliance (MCGA), and a member of the American Water Works Association (AWWA).

Related Posts

Can a Primary Loop Manipulate a Secondary Loop Valve?

The following discussion is part of an occasional series, "Ask the Automation Pros," authored by Greg McM...
Greg McMillan Dec 1, 2023 8:00:00 AM

How IoT Is Empowering Safety and Efficiency in Aviation

IoT has changed operations in many industries, including aviation. Anyone who has spent time at an airpor...
Ellie Gabel Nov 29, 2023 12:28:59 PM

What's Your Game Plan for Low-Cost Preventive Maintenance?

Designing a cost-effective preventive maintenance strategy for your team starts with a few essential tech...
Emily Newton Nov 22, 2023 8:00:00 AM