This 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.
Playing engineer on the world stage
In the case of Richard H. Caro, the first of this years 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 ISAs 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 ISAs 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.
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 didnt 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.