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Techy Stuff for Geeks Like Us! Join Me at Automation Week

Hey everybody! I was just reviewing the technical conference program for ISA Automation Week(wow it’s just a couple weeks away) – and I have to admit:

I was sucked in big time.

I guess it’s the geek in me that makes me love this stuff, (maybe you can relate), but let me tell you a little about why I got so excited. Then maybe we’ll see each other at one of the technical sessions and you’ll come up to me and say “Hey, geek blogger. Put down your slide rule for a minute. Great presentation, wasn’t it?”

(Okay, I know what you’re thinking: “Why – she’s FAR too young to know anything about a slide rule!” and of course you are right. Nevertheless, there really is a slide rule sitting at home.)

Okay, hang onto your hard hat – here’s one of my favorite upcoming talks from one session in each of the 6 technical tracks at ISA Automation Week. Check it out:

  • Control Performance Track:
    What Your DCS Knowsbut Won’t Tell You”
    What? My DCS system is holding out on me? Wait a minute…! Presenter George Buckbee of Expertune, the Control Performance track chair, says that data historians have Gigabytes or (gasp!) even Terabytes of data stockpiled that is never utilized. I can’t wait to hear just what kind of devious information is being kept from us behind our backs by some machine…And how much more profitable, effective, safe, you-name-the-positive-result we could realize if we were only able to properly utilize this bootleg information to our benefit.Personally, I’ve always suspected that my home laptop was holding out on me. Just wait ‘til I get home. I’m going to tell it George sent me.
  • Asset Performance Track:
    “Operational Excellence: The Essential Driver of Increased Profitability”
    Sometimes I know I should attend a tech session or read an informative book and I do…but part way through, I start thinking about the coffee break coming up, or what I’ll have for dinner or whether or not my laptop is plotting against me. But one thing I know for sure – NONE of those things will happen when I am in this lively session given by our Program Chair, Dr. Peter Martin of Invensys. A brilliant visionary well–known in his many fields of expertise, Dr. Martin entertains with his wit and makes you smile to yourself with his affable personality while he teaches valuable concepts and gives you tools for success. If you are forward-thinking, and you want to know what the leaders in automation and controls are moving toward in order to maximize operational excellence, get there early and get a seat up front for this session. Come sit by me. I’ll be the one with the used slide rule up front.
  • Human Performance Track:
    “Are Humans Necessary in a Crisis?"
    I grew up watching every sci-fi movie I could tune in on my old Zenith black and white TV, and I can tell you that the question of “humans or machines” has always fascinated me. Now as fiction approaches real life, Maurice Wilkins of Yokogawa, Human Performance track chair, dares to pose the question - who or what is better at avoiding a crisis: human beings with the advantage of judgment and emotion, or mindless machines who simply execute programs? When we consider the types of disasters that can and do happen in our industrial workplaces and their dire consequences, I am wondering whether I was right in thinking that the better of the two would be…oops, I can’t tell you which I believe is better. But you can ask me at the session!
  • Safety/Environmental Performance Track:
    “Alarm Rationalization Workshop: Tips, Tricks and Traps"
    Well, if there’s one thing I want to be aware of, it’s a trap! I hate traps! And tips and tricks can make me a more valuable employee than the average bear, so I figured this would be a very cool session to attend. Darwin Logerot of Prosys, Inc., will really take us through the process of putting together a well-developed alarm rationalization process, the gathering of data and documents, training the internal team, and cover all we need to make sure to avoid those traps, which as I said before, I hate! I always prefer a comprehensive look at a critical subject like alarms, so that I come away with the “big picture” as well as some…well, tips and tricks!

Isn’t this fun, so far?

  • Wireless Technology Track:
    “Power and Signal Over an Air Gap: The Truly Wireless Solution"
    Remember in science class when you learned about synapses in our body’s neural network, and how little bits of information “jump” across gaps in the neural network? I was always fascinated by that. I mean, how does the signal know where to go or what information to send? Now, that same idea is used to move power and data over an air gap – with something called inductive coupling technology. Now, I’m not sure I get that, but I’m going to find out more. For all I know, my laptop is sending some of its hidden stockpiled information to my synapses, so that’s obviously why I want to be informed about this new technology. Of course, it’s also good for those working with wireless systems in industrial plants. So join me as we listen to Jonathan Jacobs of TR Electronic fill in the…uh…gaps in our knowledge.
  • Security Technology Track:
    “Integrated Perimeter and Critical Infrastructure Protection…”
    The description for this presentation mentions (casually) that terrorists are expanding their target lists to include critical infrastructures such as power grids and security systems. I have often wondered…just who’s watching over our processing plants and water/wastewater facilities and diet soda manufacturing plants (talk about critical infrastructure!) while I’m at home watching the NASA Channel? Thurston Brooks of 3eTI is going to review a case study on an integrated system that combines perimeter surveillance with critical systems protection. I think the more we know about what keeps us safe, the more able we are to discover any security weaknesses and to stay vigilant and prepared. I’m all for that.My laptop at home wouldn’t know the first thing about critical systems protection. It only knows how to do spreadsheets, play music files, and play a really old computer game called Tumblebugs. At least, that’s all I think it knows…but it isn’t really saying.

All right, now that’s just a TASTE of what’s waiting for us in Orlando. Not to mention a bunch of other really cool stuff, even if you’re NOT geeky like me. (For instance, the Disney tours, or the Wednesday night Beach Party for FIRST Reception!)

But right now I gotta go. Peace out, geeksters!

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