April 2008

Fly-ins let Automation Federation members influence Congress

By Ellen Fussell Policastro

Most organizations have lobbyists who communicate with congressional figureheads and represent the interests of that organization. A Congressional Hill fly-in is a horse of a different color. It is a tool for individual members of an organization, say, a nonprofit society such as the Automation Federation, to gather en masse and interact with their Congressman and U.S. Senators. The Automation Federation will participate in its first Congressional fly-in this May, whereby Federation members will have their chance to talk to Members of Congress about automation.

"Being able to take members of the Federation in mass to Capitol Hill to meet with their Members of Congress drives home the point the Automation Federation is the Voice of Automation throughout the halls of Congress," said Mike Marlowe, the Automation Federation's Director of Government Relations. "When those Federation members step into their Congressman's or Senator's offices and talk to them about the profession, technology, and what it has done to influence the advancement of engineering careers, humankind in general, or any other message, it educates the Members of Congress, giving them an understanding of the footprint automation has. It serves so many good purposes. Ultimately, the biggest value added is the educational piece," he said.

One theme of the Congressional fly-in will include the aging workforce in automation. "So all of the Federation members representing the partner organizations take that message and deliver it to each member of Congress they talk to," Marlowe said. "The intent is to get as wide a representation as you can to deliver that message as far as you can."

Another purpose is to give the Automation Federation exposure. "You can go meet your Congressman, tell him about the Federation, what it does and what services it provides as relevant to automation," Marlowe said. "As a result, you establish a connection, and you educate them. The Congressman gets a better understanding of their constituency, knowledge about companies and technologies in their Congressional districts, and how it impacts the economic development of their state."

The win-win comes into play when the Congressman or Senator gets more information about the issue, technology, the organization, and the like, and can help thrust decisions surrounding that technology into the limelight.

The Automation Federation Congressional fly-in Hill visit is scheduled for 20-22 May. For more information, contact Mike Marlowe at mmarlowe@isa.org.


Ellen Fussell Policastro is the associate editor of InTech.  Her e-mail is efussellpolicastro@isa.org.