A roundup of unusual suspects

CONTROL lines up this year's Process Automation Hall of Fame inductees, three chemical engineers who got interested in the nuts, bolts and wires of control processes they learned about in school.

Share Print Related RSS
 By Walt Boyes, Editor in Chief

T

his year’s three inductees into the Process Automation Hall of Fame share several significant portions of their backgrounds and careers. Each of them is a Chemical Engineer by education and training, and each of them worked in the process automation industry before moving on to other endeavors. Process Automation is, more than most professions, a hands-on, experiential profession.

Not very many people set out as college students to become process automation professionals, although two of the inductees this year have devoted sizeable portions of their careers to attempting to change that. People find themselves sucked into the world of process automation sometime in mid-career. Sometimes it happens because they are lucky enough to be handed a project that requires considerable control and automation work, and they find they are good at it. Sometimes it happens that they get interested in the nuts, bolts, wires and works of how to control the processes they learned about in school. 


         
        Dick Caro 
Playing engineer on the world stage

In the case of Richard H. Caro, the first of this year’s inductees, his BS and MS in Chemical Engineering earned him a series of process automation positions at the Foxboro Company (now part of Invensys) where he was instrumental in developing distributed control system designs. From Foxboro, he moved to ModComp, and then to his own company Autech Data Systems, where he began the manufacture of fault tolerant process control computer systems. It was somewhere along in this time when his process control knowledge led him to his most important avocation.

During his tenure at Arthur D. Little, Inc., and as vice president of ARC Advisory Group, Dick devoted himself to helping make open fieldbus standards a reality. He served as chair of the IEC Fieldbus Standards Committee, and continues to serve as chair of ISA’s SP50 Fieldbus Standard committee. In many respects, his is typical of the career of a chemical engineer, whose technical training fitted him for greater things.

Caro resigned as chair of the IEC Fieldbus Standards Committee after geopolitical wrangling created the current fieldbus standard affectionately known as “the eight-headed hydra.” The work of his ISA committee led directly to the creation of the Fieldbus Foundation, which is devoted to forwarding use and expansion of the ISA S50 Fieldbus Standard.

Currently, Caro is CEO of CMC Associates, which he describes as “a business strategy and professional services firm. He continues to chair ISA’s SP50 committee, has written two books on fieldbus issues in the past year, and is in demand as a writer and speaker, as well as a consultant.


         
        Bill Luyben 
Converting the feasible into the practical

William L. “Bill” Luyben has been at the pinnacle of academic training for process control for more than 35 years. His first award, in 1969, was for the best technical paper of the year from ISA. “My career has certainly been long,” he says, in a typically understated fashion.

“My dad's work in the field of process control over the past 40 years has probably influenced the practice of control in the chemical industries more than just about any other academic,” says his son and co-author, Michael L. Luyben, himself an authority on process control, and a respected engineer at DuPont. “I hear this from many engineers I meet around the world,” he continues, “who recognize my name and praise my dad's books, papers, short courses and teaching.”

Bill didn’t start out as an academic, and, in fact, his colleagues Babatunde Ogunnaike and Cheng-Ching Yu, in their preface to the Luyben Special Issue of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research in 2003 called him “arguably the most practical of all academics to have worked in the area of process control.” Bill graduated from The Pennsylvania State University, and received his Ph.D. from the University of Delaware in 1963. Ogunnaike and Yu report that what may not be as well known is that between getting his BS and his doctorate, Bill earned an MBA from Rutgers. And this was in 1958, before having a business degree was required for success in the corporate world.

Bill went to work at Exxon as a process engineer, and then as a control engineer at DuPont, where he worked with the consummate engineer, Page Buckley. These positions gave him the practical experience necessary to have an enormous and successful effect on chemical engineering and process automation.

Like most of the honorees of the Process Automation Hall of Fame, and certainly like all three of the current inductees, Bill Luyben spent much time in his 36-year (so far) career mentoring grad and undergrad students at Lehigh University.

His devotion to educating two generations of process control professionals and his relentlessly practical approach to process control problem solving have made him unique among control engineers. The dedication to his first book is typical. Publishing one of the first integrated treatments of mathematical modeling, computer simulation and process control, he wrote that the book was “dedicated to the engineer: the scientist who converts the feasible into the practical.” In 1973, when his first book was written, his subject was almost science fiction. In 2005, it is still cutting-edge process automation.

A devoted family man, and for many years an avid part time farmer, Luyben is well known for maintaining a robust work/life balance. His son Michael sums up, “Most importantly, I admire and respect the high standards my dad has set and maintained for his work and his efforts to provide balance, support and practical relevance to others in field.”


         
        R. Russell Rhinehart 
Hooked by process control!

Dr. R. Russell Rhinehart is the head of the School of Chemical Engineering at Oklahoma State University, and holds the Bartlett Endowed Chair, like Bill Luyben, Rhinehart has not always been an academic. His view of the role of higher education in the development of both human and technical resources is substantially a product of his industrial career, where he had various positions in process development, product development and plant technical support.
Rhinehart’s primary research interests are in the practical application of advanced technology for automated process management (control, optimization, perception, monitoring and autonomy). He believes that implementation and need should guide theory and analysis; and expectedly, his program has a strong experimental component–several automated pilot-scale units that are used for both control research and the undergraduate unit operations laboratory. He believes that solutions need to be simple, and that credibility requires experimental evidence.

He achieved degrees in Nuclear Engineering, but after earning his MS he started working as a process development engineer in a pilot plant facility for Celanese, at its Charlotte, N.C. R&D lab. During this period he was first introduced to and “hooked” by process control. At the time, Rhinehart also coached boys and girls YMCA gymnastic teams, enjoying the chance to help these young people develop their maximum physical potential while transferring the gymnastic skills he learned in college to a new generation.

Similarly, he enjoyed coaching new engineering hires, helping them shed their student personas and develop themselves as professional partners within the enterprise. Seeking to combine his professional passion with the joy of developing people was one reason why he decided to switch to an academic career. The other reason was to pursue the potential that the computer offered for process control and management automation. In the late ‘70s, the games that Rhinehart programmed on his 32K-RAM home computer for his children were more sophisticated than the algorithms that the plant engineers were using for process control and analysis.

Rhinehart chose North Carolina State University (NCSU)to pursue his doctorate in chemical engineering. During the course of his studies he served as pilot plant engineer for a coal gasification and gas cleaning facility run by NCSU for the EPA. Upon graduation, he took a faculty position at Texas Tech University, and progressed through the faculty ranks to professor and graduate administrator. While at TTU, Rhinehart co-founded the Process Optimization and Control Center.

In 1997, after 12 years at TTU, Rhinehart was selected to become Head of the School of Chemical Engineering at Oklahoma State University (OSU), which has a strong and diverse control engineering program. His leadership has manifested itself in a number of ways. To meet the needs of both full-time students and practicing engineers wishing to develop multi-disciplinary skill, Rhinehart co-founded the Masters of Control Engineering program. He also co-founded the OSU affiliate of the Measurement and Control Engineering Center, a National Science Foundation cooperative center for industrial sponsorship of R&D. Rhinehart and Dr. Jan Wagner, with significant help from the industry, converted the undergraduate unit operations lab into a world-class facility that can also be used to explore advanced automation, benefiting the undergraduates in understanding process automation while permitting the testing and exploration of new concepts. Rhinehart is especially proud of his academic program that continues its strong historical tradition, and a high degree of student accomplishment. Rhinehart’s students continue to excel in many ways and hold prominent process control and process management positions around the world.

As with Luyben, Rhinehart is a life-long work/life balance practitioner and enjoys woodworking, gardening and designing houses. Along with his wife Donna, Rhinehart has designed and built four homes–three since moving to Oklahoma! The couple has five sons and two granddaughters. Like all the other honorees, his awards are numerous, and well deserved.

A Commitment to the Future
All three of these men have spent thousands of hours volunteering for their professional societies, including ISA, AIChE, IEEE and others. Despite extremely demanding schedules, both in industry and academe, Dick Caro, Bill Luyben, and Russ Rhinehart have truly shown that the more you give to your profession, the more you get back.

On behalf of the editorial board and all the editors of CONTROL we congratulate this year’s inductees, and along with their peers, welcome Dick, Bill and Russ into the CONTROL Magazine Process Automation Hall of Fame.
Share Print Reprints Permissions

What are your comments?

You cannot post comments until you have logged in. Login Here.

Comments

No one has commented on this page yet.

RSS feed for comments on this page | RSS feed for all comments