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ISA President's Column: ISA Community, Let Your Voice Be Heard

Making ISA the Home of Automation

The International Society of Automation (ISA) President Eric Cosman will be featured on the ISA Interchange blog monthly with a column directed toward ISA members around the world. Eric’s column will speak to current membership priorities, challenges, news, and perspectives. We invite ISA Interchange readers to engage and dialogue with Eric, and if you aren’t currently a member of ISA, visit to learn more about membership.

Fellow Society members;

Another month has come and gone, and we are all still struggling with the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. No doubt we are all tired of the constraints imposed on us by this “new normal,” and are looking forward their gradual relaxation. In the future, when we look back on 2020, I am sure that we will consider it one of the more interesting periods of our lives. In the mean time, I hope that this finds you and yours safe and well.

While circumstances have forced many changes on our Society and its members, many things are still the same. Your representatives on the Executive Board and other ISA leaders remain committed to doing everything possible to achieve our vision of creating a better world through automation, and to establish and sustain our Society as the home of automation.

These are aspirational words, but what is the practical meaning behind them? What are the implications, and what do we all have to do as members to support this vision? Other leaders and I are often asked these and similar questions as we participate in district meetings, hold town halls, and reach out to members in other ways. While the specific questions are phrased differently, perhaps the essential question is, how do we see things being different as we work toward the objectives and goals that form the core of our strategy?

My simple answer is wrapped up in that phrase, “the home of automation.” My personal vision is that of our Society providing a place where all who have chosen to work in the automation profession can come and find like-minded people who are willing to teach, coach, share their experiences, and learn from their peers. They do this while being willing to contribute to defining, shaping, and achieving the Society’s goals. Even those who may not be in a position to lead have something to contribute. You may feel that your experience is insufficient or not of general interest. Believe me, you would be surprised. We all have skills, expertise, experience, knowledge, and perspectives that are of potential benefit to others. This is the essence of sharing, collaboration, and learning.

An organization that aspires to provide these opportunities is much more than just a list of contacts. It should be thought of as a community. ISA is in fact a community of communities, each of which represents a specific interests and subset of the subject of automation, ranging from instrumentation and process control to cybersecurity and operational excellence. Many of us choose to concentrate on technical contributions within one of these smaller communities, be they divisions, sections, or standards committees. That is laudable and certainly welcomed, but I encourage each of you to think more broadly about how you can help to advance our entire Society. You don’t have to have a formal leadership role to contribute and help us to move forward.

While there are many examples of how you can do this, perhaps the simplest should be obvious. One of these is to exercise your franchise and vote in Society elections. Make your wishes known by supporting candidates that you feel will best represent your interests. Even when elections are not being held, you have the opportunity to contact your representatives and leaders at the section, district, or Society level and share your concerns, ideas, questions, and suggestions. Believe me, your input is both needed and welcome. I encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity to shape the future of ISA.

I’ll close this message where I began, with my sincere wish that you and yours are safe and well in these trying times. In the spirit of our vision of the Society as a community, I encourage you to reach out to your contacts, colleagues, and fellow members. Ask them how they’re coping. Share your experiences and coping methods. This is one of the simpler things that you can do to support ISA as a community.

As always, you can contact me at with your thoughts or questions on this or any other topic. Stay safe and well, and I look forward to continuing this dialog throughout 2020.

Eric C. Cosman

2020 President


About the Author

Eric C. Cosman is a chemical engineer with more than 35 years of experience in the process industries. He is the founder and principal consultant at OIT Concepts, LLC. Eric contributes to—and has held leadership positions in—various standards committees and industry focus groups. He is a member of Control Magazine’s Process Automation Hall of Fame as well as an ISA Life Fellow. Eric has served as ISA’s vice president of standards and practices, and he is a member of the ISA Executive Board. He was a founding member of a chemical sector cybersecurity program team focused on industrial control systems cybersecurity, and he was also one of the authors of the chemical sector cybersecurity strategy for the U.S. Eric is a founding member of the ISA99 Committee on Industrial Automation and Control Systems (IACS) Security, where he currently serves as the co-chair, in addition to serving as the co-chair of the MESA Cybersecurity working group. Eric speaks and writes on topics ranging from automation cybersecurity to systems architecture development and industrial transformation, and he is the author of the cybersecurity chapter of the ISA Guide to the Automation Body of Knowledge (3rd edition). 

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