Q&A with Ana Cristina Rodrigues

As a Senior Consultant at SAID Engenharia, an engineering consulting company, Ana Cristina Rodrigues is responsible for a wide range of automation projects, most of which focus on energy production, and water and wastewater treatment. For more than three years, she’s held the position of Associated Professor at São Judas Tadeu University, where she teaches engineering courses and interdisciplinary projects relating to chemistry and experimental physics. Within ISA, she serves as Director of the ISA São Paulo Section (a position she has held for five years), Director of ISA District 4 (South America), and Technical Standards Director of District 4. In addition, she was recently voted as District Vice President-Elect (for 2018-2020) of District 4.

Could you provide some background on your education (degree/s received) and academic areas of emphasis? 

I graduated with a degree in chemical engineering when there was no specific graduation course for an automation engineer. During the graduation, I worked at the university in a process control scientific research project, which involved data collection and supervision control. In the sequence, I earned a master's degree in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of São Paulo. Focusing on the simulation and process control area, I used a neural network model for non-linear chemical process.

What initially attracted you to the field of automation...and when was it? Was there any specific thing that triggered your interest?  

One of the disciplines of the chemical engineering course is process instrumentation, which I loved. It was at this point that I began to approach the automation discipline and I looked for options within the university itself to deepen my studies in process control. This served as the basis for starting my career. I worked at Aquarius Software, Intellution's distributor in Brazil. I became specialized in SCADA, batch, historians, and MES systems. Later, I became an HMI Product Manager at Siemens in Brazil, where I worked on a range of product lines, including instrumentation, operating panels, drive systems, network devices, and controllers.

Please tell us about your current career responsibilities (specific position, company) and background, and area of specialty in automation. 

I currently work as senior automation project consultant, focusing mainly in water and wastewater treatment area. I also work as an engineering educator, giving classes at the university.

How did you get involved in ISA and what is your current level/degree of involvement in ISA (leader positions, section involvement, etc.)? 

I have always enjoyed working as a volunteer in associations, having first worked for 10 years at the Brazilian Association of Chemical Engineering. Since 2012 I have been invited to serve on the ISA São Paulo Section's board of directors, helping in the planning and organization of local meetings and training initiatives. I was elected Section Chair for the 2016-2017 biennium and by the end of last year, I was elected as ISA's Vice President for District 4, which covers all ISA sections in Brazil.

How would you say ISA has benefited you? 

In my opinion, the greatest benefits that ISA offers are the technical standards of automation and industrial IT because they consolidate the expertise of professionals from different fields and from all over the world. Standards are developed in open committees, which allow participants to offer their particular insights, experience, and knowledge to bear on specific subjects. The technical meetings are highly beneficial as well, offering the opportunity to stay current on the latest technological trends and products. In addition, serving on the ISA board is a great opportunity to develop leadership skills and establish a network of contacts. From my experience, companies appreciate their professionals who perform voluntary work in associations.

You also are the District Vice President-Elect of District 4. Could you describe or explain what this distinguished achievement/leadership opportunity means to you?

As Elected-DVP of ISA District 4, I would like to continue the work of Carlos Mandolesi and PauloVergara (the last and actual D4 DVPs, respectively) in helping to maintain and encourage the creation of new professional and student sections in Brazil. I believe that the main objective is to support the dissemination of ISA technical standards, and encourage members to participate in study groups set up in District 4 and ISA's RTP Technical Standards Committees. I also believe it is important to further professionalize the training offered by the sections in Brazil and to encourage Brazilian automation professionals to become certified in the ISA's certification programs: Certified Automation Professional® (CAP®) and Certified Control Systems Technician® (CCST®).