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

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Former President Brian Curtis Discusses Term in Latest Fireside Chat

To celebrate 75 years of ISA, the Young Professional Committee met with former ISA Presidents to learn more about the history of the Society and hear their perspectives on where ISA is headed in the future.

In the June release, the YPs sat down with former ISA President Brian Curtis to discuss his term in 2018. Dive into some highlights here, or you can view the full Fireside Chat, embedded below.

Defining “Automation” Internationally

Brian Curtis saw firsthand how culture and education play a vital role in the differentiation of automation from his perspectives working on projects in the United States, Europe, and the Middle East. Training programs in the United States and Canada, for example, differ completely from programs in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere.

Automation covers such a wide breadth of industries. As a result, there are inconsistencies in how other countries comprehensively define the industry’s academic role and requirements. When it is not universally defined as a particular engineering degree course, it “becomes a struggle for ISA to determine how to best ‘brand’ automation,” says Brian. For example, pharmaceutical companies may place automation within their own division, whereas packaging companies may not have their own division. IT companies, on the other hand, may categorize automation within their own space.

To resolve this, Brian Curtis makes a concerted effort to help engineers get up to speed on complying with new standards in different countries. Even Brian, as an industry-leading expert, will often need to relearn a new country’s standard if and when the situation or job requires it.

How Being ISA President Influenced Brian Curtis

Earlier in Brian’s career, he worked for a local Chamber of Commerce, where he became familiar with the cycle of election, term, and emeritus-related duties and the important responsibilities that come with being President. During his time at the Chamber of Commerce, the group underwent an extensive restructuring process. With this restructuring knowledge in his tool belt, he was able to apply that same experience to ISA when working with the various committees and leaders to reshape the organization.

“Since being ISA President, it has definitely helped me in my own company, and allowed me to move up through different stages that I wouldn’t be able to get to without the experience of ISA,” Brian said. “ISA gave me a lot of experience as well in South America, India, Canada, and the US that I will be forever grateful for; I think I brought something to ISA, and I think I’ve taken something back.”

You can watch the full interview below:

Past Fireside Chats This Year

Here is a recap of some of our Fireside chats released earlier this year:

Former ISA President Gerald Wilbanks spoke to the Young Professionals Committee about his 1995 term. In a lively discussion, the group discussed the rise in technological and industrial advances during Gerald’s term (such as the internet and smart technology). They also discussed the challenges of developing certifications during his time as president, and what led to the most success in engaging and increasing membership.

View the full interview below:


Speaking on his term in 2013, former ISA President Bob Lindeman shared his knowledge during our Fireside Chat. Here, the YPs and Bob discuss leadership skills, the challenges and more rewarding aspects of being president, and how Bob has learned to resolve conflict in his career and inspire creativity and productivity among his staff.

More can be found in the full interview, which you can watch below:


There’s many more great conversations to be found on our dedicated Fireside Chat playlist.

Steven Aliano
Steven Aliano
Steven Aliano is the Content Marketing Specialist for ISA & ISAGCA.

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