International Society of Automation News Release
Contact: Jennifer Infantino Halsey
+1 919-990-9287
jenniferinfantino@isa.org

Upcoming FIRST® Championship an opportunity for STEM-gifted young people to showcase their inventiveness, learn about potential career paths in automation

Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, USA (13 April 2016) – Approximately 20,000 young people from around the world are projected to gather in St. Louis, Missouri, 27-30 April, to participate in the 2016 FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Championship.

The annual championship—which celebrates excellence in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), innovative thinking and teamwork—culminates months of regional qualifying competitions involving K-12 students across 39 countries into a final, high-tech spectator experience.

The event features three separate robotics competition championships--the FIRST Robotics Competition Championship (grades 9-12); the FIRST Tech Challenge World Championship (grades 7-12); and the FIRST LEGO League World Festival (grades 4-8)—as well as the FIRST LEGO League Jr. World Festival Expo (grades K-3).

The showcase event is the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC), where finalist teams enter industrial-sized robots they have designed, programmed and built in detailed, demanding contests against like-minded competitors. More than 80,000 high school students, ages 14-18, on more than 3,100 teams throughout the world participated in FRC events this year.

As strategic alliance partners of FIRST, the International Society of Automation (ISA) and its umbrella organization, the Automation Federation, actively support FIRST’s educational programs and mission, and encourage more young people to pursue careers that fully utilize their STEM skills and interests.

Practicing automation professionals will be available to answer questions about the automation profession and engineering careers

A select group of practicing automation professionals—volunteering on behalf of ISA—will be present at the ISA/Automation Federation exhibit (#702) to meet with FIRST competitors and their family members, and answer any questions they may have about career opportunities in automation and engineering.

“I invite all FIRST competitors to come by our exhibit and learn about the many rewarding, exciting and well-paying careers in automation and engineering,” says Steven Pflantz, an electrical and automation engineer and ISA and Automation Federation leader who has attended and supported all FIRST Championship events held in St. Louis. “You’ll find out what automation really is all about, what an automation professional really does, and discover the best educational and training paths to follow in order to become one.

“You’ll get direct insights—first hand, from working professionals in the field—about what automation jobs are really like. Who better to talk about these types of careers than the people who are actually in them?”

In simple terms, automation professionals create and apply technology to control and monitor the production of goods and services. Automation professionals are needed in virtually all areas of manufacturing and industrial innovation, including:

  • Oil, wind, and solar power production
  • Pharmaceutical and chemical manufacturing
  • Food and beverage manufacturing
  • Computer software and networking
  • Industrial cybersecurity
  • Government, military, and national defense
  • NASA and space programs
  • Automotive industry, including the racing industry
  • Amusement parks, including roller coaster and ride design

The need for automation professionals far outpaces available supply; career options in industrial cybersecurity are particularly bright

The time is right and employment trends are favorable for students interested in careers in automation and engineering. The reason? Demand for qualified employees in these fields far outstrips availability.

For example, the manufacturing-sector in the US employs nearly 12 million people (the equivalent of 1 in 6 private sector jobs) and supports almost 5 million more jobs. However, five percent of manufacturing jobs remain unfilled due to a lack of skilled candidates. By one estimate, the US alone will need more than 120 million workers with advanced manufacturing skills by 2020. At the current pace, America will prepare less than half of that number.

“The good news for young people who are capable in STEM is that there are a lot of career options relating to automation,” reports Pflantz. “These are well-paying careers that are very rewarding. They give young people the opportunity to invent, explore and create new ways of making our economy, our society, our world better.“

Career opportunities for graduates seeking careers in industrial cybersecurity are particularly bright.

Unlike information technology (IT) cybersecurity that protects, for instance, credit card data from being stolen, industrial cybersecurity defends critical infrastructure—such as power plants, utilities, transportation networks, water and wastewater treatment facilities—from being damaged and disabled.

The industrial automation and control systems (IACS) that operate these plants and facilities are highly susceptible to cyberwarfare. A cyberattack can shut down and severely disrupt safe plant and facility operations, putting the environment and economy as well as lives in jeopardy.

ISA has been at the vanguard of the industrial cybersecurity movement. It has developed internationally recognized security standards (ISA/IEC-62443) proven to prevent potentially devastating cyber damage to the IACS and networks that operate these essential plants and facilities.

For more information on possible careers in automation, including industrial cybersecurity, please contact: Pflantz at steven.pflantz@crbusa.com or by calling +1 314-372-3211; or Michael Marlowe, Managing Director and Director of Government Relations at the Automation Federation, at mmarlowe@automationfederation.org or by calling +1 919-314-3937.

About FIRST®

Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering.

With support from over 200 of the Fortune 500 companies and more than $25 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST® Robotics Competition for students in Grades 9-12; FIRST® Tech Challenge for Grades 7-12; FIRST® LEGO® League for Grades 4-8; and FIRST® LEGO® League Jr. for Grades K-3. Gracious Professionalism® is a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. To learn more about FIRST, go to www.firstinspires.org

About ISA

The International Society of Automation (www.isa.org) is a nonprofit professional association that sets the standard for those who apply engineering and technology to improve the management, safety, and cybersecurity of modern automation and control systems used across industry and critical infrastructure. Founded in 1945, ISA develops widely used global standards; certifies industry professionals; provides education and training; publishes books and technical articles; hosts conferences and exhibits; and provides networking and career development programs for its 40,000 members and 400,000 customers around the world.

ISA owns Automation.com, a leading online publisher of automation-related content, and is the founding sponsor of The Automation Federation (www.automationfederation.org), an association of non-profit organizations serving as “The Voice of Automation.” Through a wholly owned subsidiary, ISA bridges the gap between standards and their implementation with the ISA Security Compliance Institute (www.isasecure.org) and the ISA Wireless Compliance Institute (www.isa100wci.org).

About the Automation Federation

The Automation Federation is a global umbrella organization of seventeen (17) member organizations and seven working groups engaged in automation activities. The Automation Federation enables its members to more effectively fulfill their missions, advance the science and engineering of automation technologies and applications, and develop the workforce needed to capitalize on the benefits of automation. The Automation Federation is the "Voice of Automation." For more information about the Automation Federation, visit www.automationfederation.org.