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Meet 2020 ISA Fellow David Rahn

David Rahn, who is part of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in Rockville, Md., first became an ISA member in the late 1970s. “I believe it was 1977, after I had been designing nuclear power plants for about three years,” Rahn said. After receiving his BS in electrical engineering, Rahn decided on nuclear power plant control systems as a career because it seemed a necessary and important role and not many engineers were working in the field.

Rahn is a member of the ISA Nuclear Standards Committee and has contributed to ISA Nuclear Standards for many years. He has also attended or presented at many ISA/POWID conferences and served as a conference session developer. As a newly appointed ISA Fellow, Rahn is receiving recognition for developing and implementing a new methodology and acceptance criteria to ensure the reliability of critical safety equipment of nuclear power plants.

“I am most proud to have been able to use my knowledge and skills in the implementation of automation in the area of nuclear power plant design, construction, startup, operations, maintenance, and regulatory licensing and compliance over the past 46 years,” Rahn said.

“I believe that my generation has successfully preserved the safe operation of our existing light water reactor fleet and improved upon the work of early nuclear power plant pioneers. We also broke new ground by putting into service newer automation technologies that the early engineers did not have available to them,” Rahn added.

Most recently, Rahn participated on the ISA Nuclear Standards committee that developed the latest version of the ANSI/ISA 67.04.01-2018 standard regarding criteria for establishing setpoints for nuclear safety–related instrument channels. He also contributes to ISA Nuclear Standards regarding instrument sensing lines, transducer and transmitter installation, performance monitoring, and other areas pertinent to the use of automation in the nuclear power industry.

“I also participate in other international professional society activities, as well as in the development of international standards and guidance, such as International Atomic Energy Agency documents,” Rahn added.

Rahn said participating in ISA standards committees is fulfilling because “it provides an opportunity to hear from participants from outside your own engineering organization, who may have different viewpoints from yours. Committee meetings provide a chance to exchange ideas and identify the best practices from all over your industry, which can result in a better industry standards product,” he noted.

Now, Rahn and his committee colleagues are updating the ISA Recommended Practice document ISA RP67.04.02, a companion implementing guide to the ANSI/ISA 67.04.01-2018 standard. “When I retire from my current position in a year or two, I plan to work on enabling and advancing the use of new nuclear technologies in America’s energy portfolio—either in the government policy or commercial nuclear industry advocation arenas,” Rahn said.

Rahn offers plenty of advice for young engineers just beginning their careers. “Always keep your professional aspiration options open, and don’t be afraid to explore and venture into new areas while you are still working in one particular area,” he said. Rahn also recommends keeping in mind the “big picture” aspects of what is happening in the world and how one’s role fits in.

“Events can change the way your role is considered within the big picture, so the more skills you have, and the more topical areas in which you have gained additional knowledge and skills, the easier it will be to find your place in a new area, if that becomes necessary,” he said.

—By Melissa Landon

In 2020, ISA elevated four members to the esteemed member grade of Fellow, which is one of the highest honors ISA bestows. A senior member must have “outstanding and acknowledged engineering or scientific attainments [and] must receive peer evaluations leading to recommendation for election by the Society Admissions Committee” and must receive a majority vote from the Society’s executive board to become an ISA Fellow. In ISA’s 75-year history, 495 distinguished individuals have made the list. See them all at www.isa.org/members-corner/isa-honors-and-awards/fellow-member.

Former ISA President Howard P. Zinschlag

Former ISA President and student section advocate Howard Zinschlag died on 12 March 2021 in St. Louis. He was 83. Zinschlag had a long association with ISA that started in 1974. For the Society’s 75th anniversary in 2020, he said his early activities included writing an ISA paper that predicted the use of microprocessors to do process control, the founding of the Society’s Computer Technology Division (called COMPUTEC), and the development of a Bulletin Board System (BBS) for executive board communications.

“I also developed student section involvement in ISA and encouraged us to technically compete with each other—in live competitions,” said Zinschlag. “I coordinated with universities in Illinois and Kentucky to support ISA and to form ISA sections, from which we received recognition from state governments.” After he became president in 1993, Zinschlag visited ISA student sections to get them involved with ISA, and also travelled globally to bring the ISA message directly to members around the world.

Zinschlag was a 1959 electrical engineering graduate of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and later received his master’s degree from the University of Santa Clara, Calif. Most of his career was spent in the semiconductor industry.

Born 27 August 1937, Zinschlag was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, and friend. He is survived by his wife Mary Jane, whom he married in 1959, and leaves daughters Lora Latrell, Debbie Brown (Bob), Rebekah Parish (Andy), and seven grandchildren (Nathan, Nicholas, Rachel, Lindsey, Adam, Garrett, and Benjamin), a sister Dorothy O’Connell (Larry), and many nieces and nephews. He called St. Louis his home for 46 years.

 —By Renee Bassett

Data Analytics in Oil and Gas: A Lot of Digital, Too Little Transformation

“The reality is, while we have become data rich in many places, in many cases we are still information poor. It isn’t about how cool an algorithm is or having the latest piece of technology . . . it’s about how we are using it.” So said Jim Crompton, professor of practice in the Petroleum Engineering Department at the Colorado School of Mines, during his keynote at the ISA Data Analytics in Upstream Oil and Gas Virtual Conference in February. He discussed the current state of digital transformation in the upstream oil and gas industry, including business drivers, pilots and investments, tech companies’ marketing efforts, and the challenges ahead.

Crompton’s words kicked off a day of insight and fresh perspectives from a range of experts discussing how upstream oil and gas professionals could harness what is now an unprecedented influx of data. Speakers included users from Shell Permian Basin and technology experts from Canvass AI and Seeq.

From Jim Crompton’s keynote address at the ISA Data Analytics in Upstream Oil and Gas Virtual Conference

Crompton noted that Rystad Energy recently published a report that indicated automation and digitalization could save 100 billion dollars per year in the oil and gas industry, and currently C-suite executives in every company are working on some kind of digital transformation program. However, he said, there is too much “digital” and not enough “transformation” going on.

“Particularly because of low oil prices, getting oil and natural gas out of the rock isn’t the problem anymore,” Crompton said. “It’s making money while we’re getting oil and natural gas out of the rocks. And we hope to do that not with more people and more rigs but with more data and insight into that data.”

Crompton highlighted the importance of applying data not just within one function of the industry but over multidepartmental, multifunctional, multi-life-cycle stages within an oil and gas well. However, combining data from, for example, oil field services, enterprise resource planning, operations technology, engineering technology, and information technology to form useful information can be challenging. “We need a data platform that allows us to have access to good data from all over the company, solving the classic silo problem,” Crompton said.

Find other webinars and conferences presented by ISA online at https://isaautomation.isa.org/virtual-events-program.

—By Melissa Landon

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