October 2011
young innovators/Talking Shop with the Next Generation

Education a big part of being automation professional

By Alex Tirtichny

In the life of every man, there is a time when he decides what he is going to be. It is very important to choose the right profession, but it is not always easy to do. And it is rather regrettable when a man begins to doubt the use of his activities and realizes in the long run he has made a mistake. Some people go on living the way they are used to, reluctant or afraid to change anything, and their lives become boring. Education helps us to find what we are good at, helps us find our way in life. Education makes our lives interesting. I can say that it makes my life fascinating.

Ever since I was a child, I have wanted to create something new to change this world. I have always enjoyed science, and I have always had a passion for it. This is my goal. I am going to work hard toward reaching it, and I am sure I will win out somehow. Of course, achieving my goal would be impossible without education. I am a builder of the house of my future on the foundation of my hard work. And education gives me the tools and the materials, without which the construction would be impossible.

I am trying to design a new type of micromechanical sensor at the moment. The fundamental point of improvement of micromechanical devices is their precision and sensitivity enhancement. When this problem is solved, such systems will be applied in wider spheres. The basic advantages of these sensors are the small size (such a sensor can be placed on one's nail) and the mass-production that allows for the extremely low prime cost of the sensor. Such sensors are widely used at present in motor car construction, electronics, medicine, communications, and the military.

The self-oscillating micro-mechanical sensors that I design allow for enhancement of precision and sensibility of a device. The tests of macroscopic models of the devices have given very promising results. So I feel I am a creator, and this is a really great feeling.

Undoubtedly, education is very important. But education is not only the school and the university; it is a process that accompanies us all our lives. Graduation is not the end of education, but it is just a new beginning. And the more we pay attention to education, the more successful we will be in our profession. Professionals in automation must have a lot of knowledge in different areas. They have to be able to understand and use the technologies of automation, from loop control to enterprise integration. The education from academic institutions is very important, but alone, it is not enough to be a real professional.

I analyze self-oscillating systems' properties a lot, and this analysis discloses another advantage that is the most essential. Self-oscillating systems are very wide-spread in natural, biological, and physical objects. It allows getting more information quantity when energy costs (consumption) are much less. So automation professionals should get knowledge and experience from nature too-from everything around us.

As for me, education has also familiarized me to many people in the field of automation, such as Alex Bobovich, Gerald W. Cockrell, Tad Foster, Don Frey, and many others. I am very proud and grateful to ISA because it has allowed me to meet these people and to learn from their valuable experience.

So education is very important for a job in the automation profession. R&D engineers should know about the latest developments in order to use them in their work. Do not "reinvent the wheel." Product engineers should know all about the devices, algorithms, and systems they work with. Manufacturing engineers should know everything about technology, and so on.

So, we young innovators have to understand that the world and our future is in our imagination at the moment. And our main goal is to move this world from our mind to reality.


Alex Tirtichny (alekseyguap@mail.ru) recently obtained a Master's Degree in Instrumentation from the St. Petersburg State University of Aerospace Instrumentation. He designs micromechanical devices.