#ISAutowk: World-class technical content at Nashville automation event!

ISA’s Automation Week: Technology and Solutions Event 2013 wrapped up on Thursday (7/11/2013), in the well known Music City, Nashville in the USA. Three days of comprehensive technical sessions, keynote addresses, networking events, standards meetings, and training courses were availed of by hundreds of automation professionals.

Nashville, TN, USA. 5-7 November 2013.Follow events on twitter #ISAutowk

Releases received at Read-out from ISA and others about the event!

# Industrial Security Expert Eric Byres Receives ISA Award (David Greenfield, Automation World, 4/11/2013)

# Peter Martin speaks at #ISAutoWk as replacement keynote (Walt Boyes, ControlGlobal, 5/11/2013)

# Preventing a Cyber Pearl Harbor (David Greenfield, Automation World, 5/11/2013)

# Building an ROI for Industrial Cyber Security (Eric Knap, Security Week, 6/11/2013)

#  Maverick Technologies’ Paul Galeski explains his strategy for drawing higher attendance. (Interview with Control Engineering’s Peter Welendre, 7/11/2013)

# ISA104Meeting (Terry Blevins, Modelling & Control, 25/11/2013)

The Automation Value Proposition (Walt Boyes, Sound Off, 10/12/2013)

The ISA Automation Week program also included 24 technical sessions, organized into six educational tracks. These tracks, which included Industrial Network Security; Creating Business Value through Automation; The Connected Enterprise; Wireless Applications; Industrial Automation and Control; and Asset Lifecycle Management and Optimization/Strategy, were organised with a focus on the critical components of successful automation – safety, people, business and technology.

This was the first time we have actually been unable to travel to the event and so we had to rely on the tweets of those who were happy to share information. The number of tweeters was surprisingly small though some were very good a keeping us informed especially Control  Global’s  Walt Boyes and Joel Don who was tweeting under the ISA Interchange identity. There were one or two sharings commenting on the paradox of an excellent high class programme and the fact that the number of delegates was small. “The program is terrific. The audience is small,” said one, and another “I don’t know what we have to do to build it up again.” It has always been a bit of a mystery to me how the incredibly valuable and unaligned resource treasure of ISA does not appear to attract American professionals in the way it seems to internationally.

The event was preceded by some governance meetings of the ISA itself which had delegates from throught the world discussing and voting on important changes in how the Societ is governed. The delegates were also treated to a pre-view of a new ISA website which is the result of mammoth work behind the scenes. This will make the virtual leviathan of information already on the ISA site more easily accessible to members and other visitor. The beta-version should be on line in matter of weeks. Watch out for it!

Eric Byres accepts his award!

Eric Byres accepts his award!

Another stalwart of Automation Week is the eve event of the ISA Honours & Awards Banquet where Automation Professionals are honoured by their peers. These included Eric Byres, of Tofino, one of the pioneers in expertise and leadership in the quest for cybersecurity solutions to protect industrial control systems.

Yes! Automation can!
Dr Peter Martin, vice president of business value solutions for the Software and Industrial Automation division of Invensys, delivered the opening keynote address on the Tuesday morning, entitled “The Future of Automation.” He focused on the importance of automation professionals in solving the world’s most significant problems. “When people say you’re biting off too much of a project, they might use the expression that you’re trying to solve world hunger. I want you to understand that in the automation industry, we can solve world hunger. We can do it, and we’re the only people who can do it.”

Dr. Martin stressed that the barriers to solving the world’s most significant problems include access to energy, water, food, material goods and chemicals. Automation professionals, he said, can figure out how to solve those access problems, and “that challenge must be a rallying cry for the next generation to pursue careers in our industries and make a real difference in our futures.”

One phrase impressed our tweeters “Collaborate, it’s a nice thing to do, just doesn’t work. You need to incent for it.”

Preventing a cyber Pearl Harbour
Wednesday morning’s keynote address was delivered by an American General, Robert E. Wheeler, Deputy Chief Information Officer of the United States Department of Defense. He is responsible for Command, Control, Communications and Computers (C4) and Information Infrastructure Capabilities (DCIO for C4IIC) and serves on the executive staff of the US Secretary of Defense. This address focused on the importance of industrial infrastructure cybersecurity and the threats posed daily to our nation’s critical infrastructure networks.

General Robert Wheeler USAF

General Robert Wheeler USAF

“In the Department of Defense, our job is to assure mission execution in the face of cyber warfare by the most capable adversaries in the world,” said Wheeler. “We have to get the bad guys, protect the good guys, take out insurgents, and not hurt anyone else. That’s very hard.”

Wheeler went on to discuss the protection of America’s SCADA systems, power grid, and other key infrastructure assets. “Information assurance must be baked in from the very beginning of your work as engineers and automation professionals – you can’t just bolt it on,” he said and this was reported by our tweeters. The Automation Federation and ISA cybersecurity experts have been invited by the White House and NIST to participate in developing the framework for the President Barack Obama’s executive order PPD-21 calling for the cybersecurity of industrial automation and control systems and critical infrastructure.

Other tweets: “We have not gone down the BYOD (Buy your own device) road. We don’t think it’s going to save us that much money in the long run.” and “We are always going to have some cyber weakness because it is open- this is not the same view in other countries.” Perhaps more rivetting were these:  “The closed systems of yesteryear are open today” and more bluntly  “SCADA has lost its protection by connecting to the Internet.”

When asked about the importance of training and recruiting future cybersecurity professionals, Wheeler stressed the importance of STEM education initiatives combined with mentoring programs that can ignite the curiosity and intellect of future engineers, inspiring them to become the next cyber warriors in the fight to keep American companies and infrastructure safe and secure.

Workforce Development
Thursday’s keynote address, the final keynote of the conference, featured a distinguished panel of experts discussing workforce development issues within our industries. Moderated by Maurice Wilkins, Ph.D., vice president of the Global Strategic Marketing Center, Yokogawa Corporation of America, the panel included Paul Galeski, CEO & founder of MAVERICK Technologies; Dr. Martin of Invensys; and Steve Huffman, vice president of marketing and business development for Mead O’Brien, Inc. “Workforce development is one of the largest issues facing industry and one that will have a quick and lasting impact on process automation personnel,” commented Dr. Wilkins. “We need to bring together supplier, systems integrator, and educational communities to reverse the trends and inevitabilities that will affect us all – they each bring a unique and valuable perspective.”

“Our rich technical sessions and thought-provoking keynotes provided attendees with new take-home tools, tips and techniques to help them deliver even better performance in their jobs,” said ISA Automation Week Program Chair Paul Galeski. “We are very proud of the technical content we’ve put together for this unique, world-class event.” Or as we have ready quoted above:  “The program is terrific”

Attendees agreed with Galeski’s sentiments about the depth and breadth of the technical content in the program. “I have been attending ISA Automation Week for three consecutive years. The conference offers great technical sessions, always something new, and always something to learn,” said Hector Torres, senior process and control engineer, at Eastman Chemical.

In addition to technical sessions and keynote addresses, the event also featured a networking hub with ISA partner companies, technology briefings and social events.

BYVaRyjIMAAO5s_As the event drew to an end this somewhat plaintive tweet, “Need titles for the flight home? Check out the #ISAutoWk bookstore, across from the Networking Hub.” This is of course the indefatigable Publications Department which issues a regular supply of books, the Society Magazine, the incomparable ISA Transactions, the Journal of Automations and innumerable papers since the formation of the Society almost 70 years ago. The proceedings for this years are now available free to members for download!

“ISA Automation Week was a great opportunity to meet new prospects, spend time with our customers and network with experts,” noted Ned Espy, Technical Director at Beamex, which was announced as ISA’s Premier Strategic Partner for Calibration earlier in the week. “The presentation content was the best in years with relevant topics. I also learned we are part of an organization that is striving to end world hunger!”

Additional ISA partners participating at ISA Automation Week included ISA’s Premier Strategic Partner for Systems Integration, MAVERICK Technologies; ISA’s Corporate Partners, Honeywell and OSIsoft; and ISA’s Automation Week Partners, aeSolutions, ARC Advisory Group, Eaton, ExperTune, and Falcon Electric.

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Automation Week 2012 – Orlando, Florida USA

Automation Week 2011 – Mobile, Alabama (USA)

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