Engineering is no longer a man’s world!


Amy Wells, business development manager of specialist industrial connectors Electroustic compares unusual roles women have played in the past with the current struggle to get more women into science and engineering.

Amy Wells

Amy Wells

Women’s roles throughout history have varied dramatically from one civilisation to the next. For Britain, the sharply defined domestic role of women lay relatively untouched from the Middle Ages right through to the end of the Victorian era and beyond. But when we look further into history, gender roles were not so sharply defined.

Take the Viking era as an example. Historical attestations show that whilst it was rare for women to take part in warfare, the few that did take up arms were given legendary status as a shieldmaiden, a woman who had chosen to fight as a warrior amongst Viking men. Over 1250 years ago, these rare women were considered to be exceptional and highly respected figures. Through positive portrayal in modern film and literature, they continue to capture attention and admiration today. 

In recent years, there has been a plethora of media coverage and awareness campaigns to encourage and praise the small number of women working in the engineering industry. As a result, female engineers are finally starting to be held in high regard.

A number of recently launched initiatives such as the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) and the Women in Science and Engineering campaign (WISE) suggest that the engineering industry is successfully bridging the gender gap. Yet still, only six per cent of Britain’s engineering workforce is female.

There are a myriad of barriers preventing women from entering the engineering sector and inevitably, the gender stereotype remains a large factor. >From a young age, gender conditioning teaches us that hands-on, practical activities like LEGO and Meccano are not for girls. So it comes as no surprise that just 20 per cent of all A-level physics students are girls and that nearly half of UK state schools do not send a single girl on to study higher education physics at college or sixth form.

Perhaps more worryingly, even women who are currently working as engineers have acknowledged the gender gap associated with the industry. Results from the British Engineering and Manufacturing Census state that 75 per cent of the 300 female engineers surveyed still consider engineering to be a ‘male career’.

Although small in numbers, there is an army of proud and exceptional female engineers in Britain. In fact, 98 per cent of female engineers consider their job to be rewarding. These engineering women have built a strong network of support to praise and encourage women in industry. Launched in 2014, The National Women in Engineering Day (NWED) celebrates the achievements of female engineers across the country. Similarly, the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) presents the annual Young Woman Engineer Award to acknowledge the work of exceptional female engineers under 35.

Much like the legendary shieldmaidens of the Viking era, successful female engineers are held in high regard beside their male counterparts. Industry awards and increased media coverage have elevated the importance of the ‘female engineer’ to nationally recognised status, encouraging ambitious young women to conquer the engineering stereotype – perhaps with less pillaging and more programming.

Automation scholorships announced


ISA Announces Recipients of 2010 ISA Educational Foundation Scholarships

Alexey Tirtchny

Evgeny Bakin

Konstantin Gurnov

Three of the Russian students

The International Society of Automation (ISA) has announced the winners of the 2010 ISA Educational Foundation Scholarships. These scholarships are awarded to college and university students who demonstrate outstanding potential for long-range contribution to the fields of automation, instrumentation, and control. The scholarship awards support tuition and related expenses and research activities and initiatives.

ISA awarded more than $62,000, which was distributed among students in two- and four-year colleges and universities, and graduate students. Contributions to the ISA Educational Foundation come from the following sources: Norman E. Huston Endowment, the Paros-Digiquartz Fund, the Bob and Mary Ives Endowment, the Wilbanks scholarship, the ISA Chemical and Petroleum Industries Division Endowment, the ISA Food and Pharmaceutical Industries Division Endowment, the ISA Executive Board Scholarship, ISA Life Members Committee Scholarship, ISA Section and District Scholarships, and the General Education Fund.

The 2010 recipients are:
In two-year programs:
Cody Simpson
Northern Alberta Institute of Technology; Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Thaen Watkins
Western Wyoming Community College; Rock Springs, Wyoming, USA
Michael Columbo
Massosoit Community College; Massosoit, Massachusettes, USA
Joshua Alfaro
Vanier College; Saint-Laurent, Quebec, Canada
Betsy Dorsett
Lee College; Baytown, Texas, USA
Benjamin Martin
Central Texas College; Killeen, Texas, USA
Benjamin Pohlman
Front Range Community College; Westminister, Colorado, USA

In four-year programs:

Ronald Rodriguez
Southern Polytechnic State University; Marietta, Georgia, USA
Robert Sherbert
Drexel University; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Ane Muvadgah
University of Central Oklahoma; Edmond,Oklahoma, USA
Sneha Shishodia
Institute of Technology; Nirma University; Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India
Rishita Sarabhai
Institute of Technology; Nirma University; Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India
Foram Dhebar
Sardar Vallabhbai Patel University; Basad, Gujarat, India
Nicole Legenski
Penn State University; Reading, Pennsylvania, USA
Jonathan Martin
Messiah College; Grantham, Pennsylvania, USA
Brian Kosoris
Southern Polytechnic State University; Marietta, Georgia, USA
Michael Lopresti
University of Missouri; Colombia, Missouri, USA
Terrance Eakin
Ohio State University; Columbus, Ohio, USA
Jadeja Kamal
University of Texas at Dallas; Richardson, Texas, USA

In graduate programs:
Alexey Tirtchny
St. Petersburg State University of Aerospace Instrumentation; St. Petersburg, Russia
Evgeny Bakin
St. Petersburg State University of Aerospace Instrumentation; St. Petersburg, Russia
Konstantin Gurnov
St. Petersburg State University of Aerospace Instrumentation; St. Petersburg, Russia
Georgy Kuyumchev
St. Petersburg State University of Aerospace Instrumentation; St. Petersburg, Russia
Carlos Andrade-Cabrerra
Instituto Tecnologico Estudios Superiores de Monterrey; Monterrey, Mexico
Ikechukwu Okanu
Idaho State University; Pocatello, Idaho, USA
Mahdi Sharifzadeh
Imperial College; London, England

Young scientist of 2010


The exuberance of the young students at the award ceremony is infectious

One of the first events in Ireland in the new year is the Young Scientist Exhibition held annually in January. This years event now known as the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition has been in full swing for the past few days.

Picture (C) BT

Richard O'Shea celebrates

School students from across Ireland’s 32 counties descended on the RDS in Dublin set up their stands for the 46th BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition. (I really feel old now as I can remember the first one way back then!)

Chris Clark, CEO, BT said at the start of the event, “After one of the most brutal years for many years and with a tough start to 2010 due to the snow, what better way to get 2010 back on track by being inspired by the young leaders of the future.”

We have 514 stands to visit and the breadth of the research by students is astounding. Among them are plenty of innovative ideas that could potentially be turned into the next big commercial success so who knows, we may discover the next Google this week.”

The first ever winner of the Young Scientist Exhibition was John Monahan from Newbridge College, Co. Kildare (1965). John is now President of his own biotech company, Avigen Inc, based in California and just last month acquired by MediciNova.

Another winner was Sarah Flannery from Scoil Mhuire Gan Smál in Blarney, Cork . She featured on the front page of newspapers around the world after she scooped the 1999 Esat Telecom Young Scientist of the Year title for her project on encryption. Sarah went on to take first place at the 11th EU Science Contest in Greece and represented the European Union at the International Nobel Prize ceremonies in December 1999.

By happy coincidence Richard O’Shea, 18 year old sixth year student, also from Scoil Mhuire Gan Smal, was named the winner of the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition this year with his project entitled, “A biomass fired cooking stove for developing countries”.

Richard received the prestigious honour for his pioneering work on the design of a biomass-fueled cooking stove for use in developing countries.  Over 2 billion people in the world depend on stoves to cook their meals every day, and his project built a new one which uses as little fuel as possible and which ideally produces no smoke. Richard made a strong impression on the judges with his detailed research into the chemical processes involved in burning timber, and with the various designs he came up with using very simple materials such as tin cans and nails which are very easy to find in Third World countries. An added bonus is that his stoves can be built using simple tools such as a Swiss army knife. Richard impressed us with both his science knowledge and the engineering skill he showed in his construction work. He talks us through his invention in the video below!

Conor Lenihan, Minister for Science, Technology, Innovation & Natural Resources with special responsibility for the Knowledge Society, (love the title!), accompanied by Chris Clark of BT, presented Richard with a cheque for €5,000, a Waterford Crystal trophy and the opportunity to represent Ireland at the 21st European Union Contest for Young Scientists taking place in Lisbon, Portugal this coming September.

A Best Group Award  went to Paul McKeever and Bryan Murphy, Abbey Christian Brothers Gs, Co Down for their project entitled “Specs Detector.” This intreguing project was a oair of safety goggles so set up that macinery may not be operated until they are worn by the operator.

See also the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition blog.

Automation knowledge


All you ever expected to know..

The late Vernon Trevathan

Last 12th of May we reported in our News 09.05 Section the sad and unexpected death of Vernon Trevathan, “the father of CAP” (Certified Automation Professional). He was VP of ISA’s Professional Development Dept at the time. He is worthily remembered in the growing number of people who  proudly bear these initials after their name.

However there is another reminder of the debt owed to this gentle man in the book entitled A Guide to the Automation Body of Knowledge. This 2nd Edition can truly be said to be the best and most comprehensive educational resource one can find.

It features concise and relevant information on all the major topics of instrumentation, automation, and control, written by 35 of industry’s foremost experts. This second edition has been updated with critical and current additional topics covering

custom software control equipment structure continuous emissions monitoring systems

These further subjects, along with the existing body of knowledge, better provide the reader with a more thorough and current knowledge of automation.

Nick Sands, who succeded Vernon to the VP of Professional Development Department gives us some of the background. “During the development of the Certified Automation Professional (CAP) program there was a thorough review of the body of knowledge, or the concepts and practices documented in books and articles. There were gaps. Vernon Trevathan, the Vice-President of ISA’s professional development department, and the father of the CAP program, edited this almost comprehensive guide to the body of knowledge. It is modeled after the analogous guide available from the Project Management Institute. Vernon is an ISA fellow with more than 40 years of automation experience, most with Monsanto. Many of the 34 authors are ISA fellows or authors.”

The person who needs to polish skills, or expand their knowledge into new areas? For those hose who are engaged in instrumentation, automation, and control, A Guide to the Automation Body of Knowledge, 2nd Edition, is the best and most comprehensive educational resource you can find.

A worthy memorial to a great ands consumate Automation professional. May we never forget him.

Read also Walt Boyes Tribute last May.

Workforce development


Opportunities Available

to Support the Growth of Automation Professionals

When: 6-8 October 2009
Where: ISA EXPO 2009, Reliant Center, Houston, Texas, USA

As part of the International Society of Automation (ISA) and the Automation Federation’s workforce development efforts, a number of student, professional, and career-building activities are being offered through ISA’s Automation Career Connection event, held in conjunction with ISA EXPO 2009.

Automation Career Connection offers a multitude of activities related to careers in automation. It’s designed to bring industry professionals, academia, college students, middle and high school students, and those interested in getting involved with the automation profession at these special event offerings:

YAPFEST –Gives students and automation professionals, ages 18-30, the chance to network with others who are interested in careers in automation—all in a festive atmosphere.

iAU2M8.09 – Introduces the concept of automation to middle and high school students and provides examples of the many career choices through educational displays, a keynote presentation, and more activities related to the automation profession.

Undergraduate Student Research Conference – An opportunity for pre-selected college students to show their fundamental knowledge and skills in an information exchange focused on research projects.

Business & Academic Leads Roundtable – Presented by the Institute for a Competitive WorkforceUS Chamber of Commerce, this program invites business and academia together to discuss critical topics including, Business-Education Partnerships: The Road Both Travelled; Better Education Data – A Key To Effective Educational Decisions, and the National Governors Association – Common Core Initiative.
This program will be held on 6 October from 9:00 a.m.–10:45 a.m.

Re-employment Webcast Summit–A live webinar presented by the US Department of Labor that will focus on critical areas of concern for the unemployed and “need-to-knows” for re-employment into the workforce. Those currently unemployed in the automation profession or those looking to advance in their careers are encouraged to attend.
This free webcast will take place on 7 October from 11:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.