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Meet 2021 ISA Fellow David Strobhar

David Strobhar has worked in the area of human factors in automation for the past 37 years. He founded a human factors consulting company, helped develop the ISA-18.2 (IEC 62682) standard, wrote the book Human Factors in Process Plant Operation and more than 25 papers, and established the Center for Operator Performance. Now, as a 2021 ISA Fellow, Strobhar is being honored for his long-time contributions.

In 1984, Strobhar started the company Beville Operator Performance Specialists, Inc., to provide alarm rationalization, which is the process of evaluating the purpose and value of each alarm. Before these services were offered, alarm systems were often impeding—rather than helping—operations because operators were dealing with alarm floods (too many alarms going off at once).

Strobhar said getting the company off the ground involved about six months of cold calling to determine if there was a market for human factors in the refining and chemical business. Eventually, he did some projects for free to demonstrate what he could do. Now, 38 years later, about 75 percent of Beville’s work is with refineries, and 25 percent involves chemical plants, pipelines, and production facilities.

“We were doing alarm rationalization before anyone else had a term for it,” said Strobhar. “There was a definite need for it. Now, a whole slew of other organizations have popped up to try to meet that need.”

Strobhar became active in ISA around 2005 when ISA-18.2, the ISA standard about alarm rationalization, began development. Strobhar helped with the formation of the standard; he also assisted in editing the rationalization clause and reviewed the rest of the document. Ultimately, ISA-18.2 was adopted by the international community.

Strobhar said working on the ISA-18.2 standard has afforded him credibility in the field. “When people ask who you are, and you say you’re on ISA’s alarm management committee, they’re going to think, ‘I guess you know something about alarms!’” he said.

In 2007, Strobhar helped launch the Center for Operator Performance, a diverse group with representatives from industry, vendors, and academia addressing human capabilities and limitations with research, collaboration, and human factors engineering. “The group brings data to the discussion so that people can make more informed choices,” he said. “It meets twice per year but funds research throughout the year at various facilities.”

Strobhar recommends that young engineers get involved in things outside their normal job functions to learn about and improve the company. “Step forward to your supervisor and ask to address issues,” he said. “That really helps you get noticed and advances your knowledge base. It shows you have the ability to not only do what you’re supposed to do but also see opportunities to improve the company’s performance.”

Find out more about ISA Fellows and other awards at www.isa.org/members-corner/isa-honors-and-awards.

–By Melissa Landon

ISA Introduces Automation Project Management Specialist Certificate Program

ISA announced a new professional certificate program covering the unique challenges of project management in the automation industry. The program is designed for project managers who want to gain a deeper understanding of how to execute automation projects effectively, as well as for automation professionals who wish to acquire an understanding of core project management principles.

The Automation Project Management Specialist Certificate Program is based on “real-world, practical lessons that you can apply to your job today,” said project management veteran Hunter Vegas, who helped develop the program.

“The first third of the course covers the basics of project management so that the entire class is up to speed on project management terms and project execution methods,” said Vegas. “The last two-thirds of the course specifically cover automation projects and the various issues/challenges they pose.”

Vegas, who has engineered and managed automation projects for most of his 35-year career, has a BS in electrical engineering from Tulane University, an MBA from Wake Forest, and Professional Engineering licenses in Control Systems and Electrical Engineering in six states.

“Automation is not well understood by others, and the requirements are usually poorly defined. The challenges associated with automation project management are legion,” said Vegas in an interview with Christina Ayala for the ISA Interchange blog.

“This course is not a theoretical course on project management,” Vegas added. “It is a ‘been there, done that, and got the scars to prove it’ type of course that points out potential pitfalls and provides practical advice about how to address a whole host of issues and gotchas.”

Topics include: 
  • integration of multiple engineering disciplines (software, computer systems, networks, and instrumentation)
  • high dependency on user requirements of disciplines outside of automation
  • integration of requirements from many areas (business, engineering, safety, environmental)
  • delays in other project areas that propagate over the automation area
  • new technology or technology constraints.

An impressive list of project managers from around the world—including Simon Lucchini, Andre Michel, Steve Mustard, Nick Sands, and Scott Sommer—helped put together the new certification. Some of the developers routinely worked with 100+ million dollar projects, and others usually worked on smaller projects, so everyone involved contributed different management techniques to the program.

No prerequisites or applications are required for the Automation Project Manager Certificate Program. Choose from several formats, including classroom (MT01) or self-paced modular (MT01M). You can try module one of MT01M for free.

ISA also offers a host of other certification programs, such as the Certified Automation Professional (CAP), various cybersecurity certificates, and several safety certificates. To find out more about all the ISA certification programs, visit www.isa.org/certification/certificate-programs.

–By Melissa Landon

Most Popular Posts on ISA Interchange Blog

ISA’s official blog, ISA Interchange, has many perspectives from ISA members and industry contributors. The staff recently compiled the five most popular posts from the first half of 2021. See what your peers are reading here, and visit https://blog.isa.org for more.

5 - Increases in Instrument Application or Installation Issues

In this post by Greg McMillan, who represents the ISA Mentor Program, Mike Laspisa, a 37-year veteran in the instrumentation and control discipline, asks ISA Mentors a question: “Has anyone noticed an increase in installation-related issues over the past 10 years related to either device selection or improper installation?”

4 - Construction Automation and its Humanitarian Applications

Author Zachary Liollio says that within wartime humanitarian efforts, automation has removed humans from the line of fire, and the construction industry is adapting these new technologies as well. He mentions how one international nonprofit, Bomb Techs Without Borders, is tackling demining operations and explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) with expedited completion times and incredible precision.

3 - Why are 5G and IoT a Game Changer for Manufacturing?

Emily Newton tackles the topic of 5G telecommunications technology, describing how it may soon revolutionize how companies use IIoT devices to increase efficiency, enable predictive maintenance, enhance data collection, and improve robotics capabilities.

2 - Bridging the Gap Between Education and Industry

Elena Rios describes the skills undergraduate engineers will need for the digital economy. She elaborates on the technical skills, such as data analysis and software development, and the soft skills, including complex problem solving and analytical thinking. She also touches on how a looming talent shortage is causing many countries to import employees and may lead to a new focus on skills development.

1 - Cyber-Physical Systems: The Core of Industry 4.0

Rajabahadur V. Arcot penned the most-read post in the first half of 2021. He describes a key element in the implementation of Industry 4.0: cyber-physical systems (CPS), or smart systems that include engineered interacting networks of physical and computational components. He explains how industrial firms plan to leverage the tenets of CPS to achieve operational excellence.

ISA Transactions Names PID Advanced Control Article Best of 2020

ISA Transactions, the journal covering the science, mathematics, and engineering of measurement and automation, has announced the best of its 450 papers published in 2020. The editorial board of the journal annually highlights its best article based on its expected impact on the research, development, or practice of industrial automation and measurement, among other criteria.

“The task of selection of the best paper involves a tedious process,” said Ahmad Rad, editor-in-chief, ISA Transactions. “The objective was to select the best from a list of 450 papers published in 2020 in twelve volumes (96–107).”

The paper “Controlling industrial dead-time systems: When to use a PID or an advanced controller” won the nomination from the editorial advisory board. Lucian Ribeiro da Silva, Rodolfo Cesar Costa Flesch, and Julio Elias Normey-Rico wrote the article, which appears in Volume 99 of ISA Transactions, published April 2020, on pages 339–350.

“This work presents a comparative analysis of PID, DTC, and MPC strategies when used to control SISO processes with dead time considering characteristics commonly found in industry, such as noisy measurements in the process output and modeling error,” the authors, who are affiliated with the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, write in the abstract. Editors and editorial board members were asked to cast their votes based on the following criteria: 

  • quality and clarity in the manuscript
  • degree of utility and applicability of the technique
  • completeness and comprehensiveness of the work
  • input from the review process
  • expected impact of the work on the research, development, or practice community.

ISA partners with Elsevier to make the content of ISA Transactions: The Journal of Automation available through Science Direct, a searchable online database of the full text of all articles since 1989. Non-members and institutions may access ISA Transactions at www.sciencedirect.com/journal/isa-transactions.

–By Melissa Landon

A Diversity Message from ISA President Steve Mustard

Diversity and inclusion are core ISA values, along with excellence, integrity, collaboration, and professionalism. We strive to be a global, diverse, and welcoming organization.

But what do we mean by diversity and inclusion? Diversity is the representation of different people in an organization; inclusion is ensuring that everyone has an equal opportunity to contribute to and influence that organization. Author and thought leader Verna Myers explained it this way: “Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.”

I feel that equity goes right along with diversity and inclusion, ensuring that processes and programs are impartial, fair, and provide equal possible outcomes for everyone. Why does ISA have diversity and inclusion as core values? Does the inclusion of new people create a zero-sum game, with the exclusion of those who are already there? Does equity give preference to some more than others?

Businesses are already aware of the benefits of being diverse, equitable, and inclusive, experiencing better financial performance and higher customer satisfaction. Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity in executive teams are 21 percent more likely to have financial returns above their industry’s national median than companies in the fourth quartile. 

Organizations that successfully create an inclusive culture have 39 percent higher customer satisfaction scores than those that do not. Inclusive cultures also reduce turnover rate and increase innovation.

The Royal Academy of Engineering also released a case study toolkit on increasing diversity and inclusion in engineering. Case studies from engineering companies such as IBM, Airbus, Atkins, BAE Systems, bp, Rolls Royce, and CH2M are included, showing how diversity and inclusion have become a core focus, and with good reason.

The engineering skills shortage has been debated for many years. The 2020 Global Engineering Capability Review provides a very stark view of this shortage: “Today, there is a severe lack of such engineering and technical capacity; a skills gap that is exacerbated by the introduction of new and emerging technologies, and by infrastructure developments that do not include and involve local workforces. So, without intervention, the pattern of increasing occupational accidents and fatalities is likely to continue.”

There can be no better example of how diversity and inclusion is not a zero-sum game than tackling this skills gap. I believe this must be a priority for all engineering societies. ISA can help lead the way, embracing people from all underrepresented groups and giving them a place and a voice so they are part of the solution.

The Executive Board established a volunteer diversity review task force this past year, asking it to specifically look at our policies and opportunities to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in our leadership. We also have groups reviewing processes in hopes of increasing diversity of some of our recognition programs.

We are all able to and should strive to contribute to our diversity and inclusion values:

  • Be role models internally and externally to promote opportunities for all groups to progress in the society.
  • Communicate and advocate diversity and inclusion.
  • Use data to raise awareness, measure progress, and support diversity in our volunteer groups.
  • Identify, address, and eliminate unconscious bias/challenging bias. Try out the implicit association tests at Harvard’s Project Implicit.
  • Implement and follow guidance on how to respond to unacceptable or unhelpful behavior in the society.
  • Mentor individuals from underrepresented groups, in ISA and in our day jobs.

As always, feel free to contact me if you have any thoughts or comments. Share with me any ideas on how to make ISA a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive society. Diversity, equity, and inclusion is a win-win game for the society and the wider profession. Now more than ever we all need to work together to build a better world through automation.

New CAPs and CCSTs

The following individuals have recently passed either ISA’s Certified Automation Professional (CAP) exam, or one of the three levels of Certified Control Systems Technician (CCST) exam. For more information about either program, visit www.isa.org/training-and-certification/isa-certification.

Certified Control System Technicians

Level 1

Justin Adkins, U.S.
Abdullah Al Mesbah, Saudi Arabia
Juan Manuel Albelo, U.S.
Ibrahim Almajnouni, YASREF, Saudi Arabia
Lucas Scott Ancell, University of Missouri-Columbia, U.S.
Mason Armstrong, U.S.
Ren Babin, Total Petrochemicals USA Inc., U.S.
Jason Bertacchi, Dublin San Ramon Services District, U.S.
David Burns, U.S.
Matthew Nick Cahoon, 3M Co., U.S.
Jack Carter, U.S.
Jorge Castillo, U.S.
Nok Chanthasaly, U.S.
Stephan Cook, U.S.
Christopher P. Criblez, U.S.
Van Danh, U.S.
Ephraim Jesugbemi Eniayekan, PIVOT-GIS, Nigeria
Samuel Ferguson, U.S.
Willard Dale Ferguson, U.S.
Micah Graves, Prime Controls LP, U.S.
Jack Hoit, U.S.
Aaron Horn, U.S.
Joseph Hurm, U.S.
Benjamin Johnson, Xcel Energy, U.S.
Brandon T. Kanouff, U.S.
Daniel Kilerciyan, Koch Modular, U.S.
Kevin Lacar, U.S.
Carlos LaLuz, U.S.
Adam Lucas, IBEW Local 82, U.S.
Brian Maki, U.S.
Jorge Maldonado, U.S.
Joseph McDaniel, Southern Gardens Citrus, U.S.
Nathan Daniel McNamee, MKD Electric, U.S.
Anibal Meraz, U.S.
Noel Montesano, U.S.
Luke Motycka, Hikma Pharmaceuticals, U.S.
Jason Nelson, City of Roseville, U.S.
David O’Leksy, TAI Engineering, U.S.
Justin Palensky, Huffman Engineering, U.S.
Bradley L. Perry, U.S.
Joseph C. Petronglo, Complete Control Services, Inc., U.S.
Minh Phat Le, U.S.
Starlena Phillips, U.S.
Kurtis Ptolemy, EPCOR Water Services, Canada
Christian G. Ransdell, U.S.
Scott D. Rathbun, City of Ann Arbor WWTP, U.S.
Amancio Rodriguez, U.S.
Anish Sargath, Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia
Javid Tarlan Semavi, Micron Technology, U.S.
John Shepherd, U.S.
Christian M. Smith, U.S.
Charles A. Thompson, U.S.
Zachary Weber, Eagle River Water and Sanitation District, U.S.
Lonnie S. White, U.S.

Level 2

Guillermo Aguilar, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, U.S. 
Ali Alsaidi, Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia
Michael K. Ayoub, U.S.
Daniel J. Caffery, Eagle River Water and Sanitation District, U.S.
Adam Dittbenner, U.S.
Jude Chinedu Esumobi, U.S.
Thomas Faughn, Lincoln Electric System – TBGS, U.S.
Daniel Abata Ferrer, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, U.S. 
Arturo A. Flamenco, Denka Performance Elastomer, U.S. Dalton Landwehr, U.S.
Eric E. Holden, U.S.
Cameron Kardel, Honeywell UOP, U.S.
Gary D. Lucas, U.S.
Christopher J. Meier, U.S.
Michael D. Moriarity, U.S. 
Nathan Murphy, U.S. 
David Payne, Flint Hills Resources, U.S.
Bradley L. Perry, Stepan, U.S.
Roberto Rolando Ramirez, U.S.
Daniel Schoess, U.S.
Matthew W. Scott, U.S.
Kevin J. Vokey, Canada

Level 3

Colette Cook, Tecpro, U.S.
Robert C. Davis, U.S.
Ryan R. Funk, Xcel Energy, U.S.
Michael R. Glass, U.S.
Matt A. Hayes, U.S.
Brett Eugene Holuby, U.S.
Kenneth R. Lane, Telstar Instruments, U.S.
Timothy A. Majewski, Chevron, U.S.
Jeff E. Scott, U.S.
Joshua A. Smith, Blue Racer Midstream LLC, U.S.
Brian Trent, BAE Systems, U.S.

Certified Automation Professionals

Hafiz Muhammad Abdullah Arif, Pakistan
Ravindar Arumugam, Qatar Aluminum, Qatar 
Saad Ather, Pakistan
Shreyas Bhandare, Malisko Engineering, U.S.
Deeparnak Bhowmick, Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems, India
Ben Bosch, U.S.
Girard R. Bourque, U.S. 
Trey Buechler, Poet, U.S.
David Burns, U.S.
Philip V. Chandra, U.S.
Analyn C. Corcuera, U.A.E.
Aaron Doxtator, Canada
Tushar Kanti Dutta, India 
Kenny Eichler, Tecpro Ltd., U.S.
Ahmed Abdulmuttalib Elzaki, Petro-Energy E&P Co. Ltd., Sudan
Denis Maulini Guncet, U.S.
Gaurav Gupta, ADNOC Onshore, U.A.E.
Faisal Hayat, Lalpir Pvt. Ltd., Pakistan
Mohamed Saifeldeen Hemeadh, ASGE Group, Saudi Arabia 
Carlos Hernandez, VIAVI Solutions, U.S.
Bryan Highland, Wunderlich-Malec Engineering, U.S.  
Woong Jung, Republic of Korea
Ryan William Kershaw, Litmus Automation, Saudi Arabia
Vsevolod Krasnoperov, U.S.
Jerahmeel Andrew Layco, Maynilad Water Services Inc., Philippines
Maira Valencia Lucero, El Salvador
Stephen Marshall, Bechtel Nuclear, Security and Environmental, U.S.
Mark Anthony Meso, IET Combustion, Australia
Muataz Elhadi Hassan Mohamed, Sudanese 
    Thermal Power Generating Company, U.A.E.
Swetha Nair, Dow Chemicals Intl., Canada
Muhammad Sikandar Nawaz, Avanceon Automation & Control WLL, Qatar
Okporua Oghenetega, Nigeria
Brian Phan, Worley, U.S.
Daniel Quebedeaux, U.S.
Gopinath Rajendran, U.A.E.
Amer Hatif Rasheed, Iraq
Saqib Rehan, Intech Process Automation, Pakistan
Blaine Watson Russ, Hunt, Guillot and Associates, U.S. 
Saurabh Sappal, U.S.
Ragu Satgunanathan, RAE, Canada
Vijay Selvaraj, U.S.
Muhammad Waseem Shahzad, ATSYS, Australia
Cedric Sindjui, Intech Process Automation, Cameroon
Justin Philip Singree, Automation Plus, U.S.
Harry Stafford, Chevron USA Inc., U.S.
Michael Stafford, Canada
Tijo John Thomas, Yokogawa Middle East and Africa B.S.C, Bahrain
Kafayat Ullah, JAL International Company Limited, Pakistan 
Sumanth S. Upadhya, India
Zachary Weber, Eagle River Water and Sanitation District, U.S. 
Seth White, U.S.
Zheng Yi, Suez North America, U.S.

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