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Ronald B. Jones, PE (ret), 1996 Society President

1996: Standards activity starts in earnest

As a young engineer more than 50 years ago, I was encouraged to join ISA to learn more about automation and control. It was an event that shaped my education, technical growth, and personal growth.

During my time in the Society, I was counseled and mentored by some of the most outstanding people in the automation and control technology field. I remember Paul Wing of Masoneilan, Greg Shinskey of Foxboro, Vic Maggioli, and Hans Baumann were among those giants in technology that helped shape my career. There are many others still active in the Society who are true visionaries in our technology, like Paul Gruhn for process safety and Gerald Wilbanks for technical excellence.

As the incoming section president back then, I attended my first president’s meeting in Portland, not knowing what to expect or how I would be accepted. It was an experience that I have never forgotten. Everyone there demonstrated that ISA is an open Society. I could do as much or as little as I wanted, and get involved where my interests took me. Being able to expand my technical education through S&P activity and division involvement increased my technical value to my employer. The contacts developed through those activities provided long-term benefits. That is the most important contribution that ISA delivered.

As my involvement in the Society increased over the years, I was mentored by many people who helped me understand how the Society worked and why the Society operated that way. I learned that the Society was and is truly a work in progress, changing to meet both technology and membership demands. Keith Herbst and Bill Calder were some of the many leaders who provided keen insight and guidance to me.

How that technology has changed! I started out in this business with electromechanical and pneumatic controls. And not everything in a central control room. I remember the fight to standardize electronic control: 4–20 mA versus 10–50 mA. ISA’s standards activity was just getting started in earnest and led the way in the industry to benefit everyone. From there the technology has advanced at a breathtaking pace. And ISA has been in the forefront! This has been a signature moment for the Society, and I believe that the Society will continue in its leadership role.

ISA is a technical organization. But more than that, it is a people organization, and that is where its strength lies. Throughout my time in the Society, it was always the people in the Society who really gave me the most benefit. The personal interactions with the members provided the most satisfaction, understanding, and personal growth that I experienced. From Brazil, Mexico, Canada, Europe, and the U.S., the members of ISA defined its strength. Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to travel to India during my leadership time, but those contacts and visits that I did make truly made my time in ISA something that I will always cherish.

I will always view ISA’s impact on my personal and technical life as wonderfully fulfilling.
Ronald B. Jones, PE (ret), 1996 Society President

This article is part of September/October 2020 InTech—the ISA 75th Anniversary Special Edition