• ISA Insights
    September 2013

    ISA Member Feature: Q&A with Troy Riddle

    My Background

    My name is Troy Riddle and I am a 41-year-old, non-traditional student at Lee College in Baytown, Texas, USA. I am the first person in my family to go to college. I had only a sixth grade formal education and had to experience my father passing away when I was a young child. As some of us middle-aged generations know, things were different back then. I dropped out of school to support the family and lost the educational opportunities available to most of the rest of my generation. A little later in life, I ran into yet another road block, a chemical addition that led to time in prison. But down here in Texas, people don't turn their back on a struggling member of society. Neither did Lee College in Baytown, Texas nor the International Society of Automation (ISA). In that regard, Texas Senator John Whitmire, widely regarded as the "dean" of Texas state senators, stands as an icon of political achievement and a firm believer of using education to reduce the rate of recidivism, leading to a safer environment for society. Given the opportunities provided me in Texas, I completed my GED, while incarcerated, in 2010. Today, I am entering my second year of study here at Lee College. I am proud to say that I am an inducted member of the Zeta Nu chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the prestigious National Honors Society. My discipline of study is instrumentation technology, which is the technology that automates not only factories and plants, but also commercial buildings, homes, and much more.

    How long have you been involved with ISA?

    I joined ISA in August of 2012, before the regular fall semester started. I was pointed in the direction of the ISA website, and I fell in love. Then I learned about the ISA Lee College Section, which started in 1992. With the help of the advisor of college's student government, I took the bull by the horns and reestablished the ISA club into the Student Government Association. I did this through attending different meetings and participating with the student government and by resolving various outstanding various issues. By bringing the ISA student section back into the Student Government Association, instrumentation students became eligible to receive the financial means needed for field trips, promotional campaigns, and membership drives to increase student enrollment in the ISA.

    How has ISA benefited your studies?

    Wow! That's an extremely long list of benefits to mention, but I will do my best to give you some idea without you having to write a 1000-page book. The availability of published papers and books by the ISA, not to mention the discounted prices offered to the ISA student members, is unmatched in the world. When a student takes the initiative to explore all this material and utilize it in their studies, he or she ends up with a wealth of retained knowledge. That is why the ISA and Lee College exceed the goals of creating an entry-level candidate for employment in the automation and control industry. Also as a student member, you're encouraged to attend ISA events in your local region, which, in my case, is the Houston Section. Then you add InTech magazine and the endless free offerings of knowledge to students and working professionals.

    What are your favorite membership benefits?

    That has to be the mentoring program, hands-down. I mean, think about it, when a student takes the initiative to utilize ISA's mentoring program, the sky is the limit. My mentor Don Zee is, in fact, the former president of the ISA. I contacted Mr. Zee a year ago and couldn't believe that I, as a newbie to this field, would have the chance to talk to a true legend like him. Beyond that, he provided his friendship and encouragement to help me get started in a high-tech career and get me more involved in ISA. Simply put, Don Zee inspired me, who just three short years ago only had a 6th grade education. I've enrolled in college, earned my state of Texas certificate in instrumentation technologies, received ISA's recognition of academic achievement award, made the national Dean's List, and have been inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa national honors society.

    Nobody is going to give it to you, but if you work hard and believe in yourself, then you can achieve what you put your mind to. I made a promise to Don Zee that I would not embarrass him, and that I would make him proud. I truly hope that I am doing just that.

    What are your goals for the future? And how does the ISA fit in?

    Well, even though what I have in the works is still a little bit far from becoming a reality, I hope to make progress through a brainstorm I call the ISA Student Elites. The basic goal of this program is to feed excellent and motivated honors students into the workforce. I want this program to generate the best-educated candidates for the instrumentation field, and help these students get employed. Hopefully, this would close the growing gap between skilled employee candidates and vacant skilled employee positions. Once this initiative gets rooted, I hope to have a chance to reveal more details and my methods.

    Regarding my personal career goals, I have already started aligning my classes up for a smooth transfer into the University of Houston/ Clear Lake in order to earn my bachelor's degree in organizational leadership and supervision.

    Let me conclude by saying "thank you" for the honor of being interviewed while allowing me to share a little about myself. Also, I say thank you to God, and those that have supported me in so many unexpected, but sincerely appreciated, ways. To me, the International Society of Automation is more than just another organization. It is a group of family members.