2008 Process Automation Hall of Fame

A Walk in the Hall. Manager/System Architect/Teacher: This Year's Crop of Everyday Process Automation Heroes

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Hercules was looking at computer control systems in 1979 and happened to be courted by the Rosemount Diogenes sales rep. I asked if they had any openings, after being impressed by the system, and started work in Minneapolis in January of 1980 as system engineering manager. I became the control architect, with my 20 years of user experience. The RS3 system meant more to me than any space ship.”

The Emerson acquisition put a stop to RS3 development, Hawkins recounted. “I found work in fieldbus through friends, and made some satisfying contributions.”

Some contributions. For the SP50 Fieldbus standard, he contributed to the design of control function blocks. Joining SP88, he helped develop the concept of separation of recipe and equipment, and he was one of the founders and officers of World Batch Forum (WBF) until 2007.

Hawkins says, “A person with a knack for engineering needs a way to build satisfying things, usually with other people’s money. I was disappointed to not be able to build space ships, but process control really stretched my talents for electrical, electronic and mechanical engineering.

“I was beginning to see repetition in the work at Hercules when I went to Rosemount, but I soon saw the variety in tackling problems from many different plants in many different countries. Fortunately, there were greater opportunities in ISA standards committees SP-50 and SP-88, where I could apply my experience to create new designs.”

Hawkins sums it up. “It looks like I am a late bloomer, or as the Pennsylvania Dutch say, “Too soon old, too late smart.” But I have gone from being a shy engineer much better with things than people to someone more comfortable with people (engineers, not politicians). Writing a book was hard, but got easier as it came together. Overall, there are things in my life that I’d change, but my career isn’t one of them.”

The Teacher

Wisconsin native, Dale E. Seborg has been a member of academia his entire career. Seborg has taught widely in chemical engineering and process control at Princeton, the University of Alberta and the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Seborg has so far in his career, mentored 38 masters’ theses and 24 PhD theses, all the while continuing to teach undergrad courses.

Seborg has received many awards for his teaching prowess, and is also, with Hall-of-Famer Tom Edgar from the University of Texas at Austin and Duncan Mellichamp, also of UC Santa Barbara, the co-author of one of the most widely used textbooks for process control—Process Dynamics and Control, 2nd ed. (2004). So that Seborg, Edgar and Mellichamp can extend their already wide influence over the way process control is practiced, their textbook is being translated into Chinese—impacting a whole new crop of chemical and process control engineers.

“Throughout my career,” Seborg says, “a key research objective has been to help bridge the acclaimed gap between control theory and industrial practice. In particular, I require my PhD students to so some experimental work as part of their PhD program.”

Seborg is one of the five principal investigators of the Process Systems Engineering Consortium (PSEC), a collaboration between the University of Massachusetts, the University of California, Santa Barbara and the University of Illinois. The mission of PSEC is to create systematic methods for the rapid invention, development and operation of industrial processes to manufacture high-value products, such as specialty chemicals, pharmaceuticals, polymers, home and personal health care products, forest products and selected food products, using batch or continuous systems involving liquids, gases, organic solids, microstructured liquids, biochemicals and polymers. PSEC is involved in a variety of educational and training activities ranging from textbooks to focused short courses offered directly to industry.

And if that weren’t enough, Seborg serves on the Editorial Board for the Springer-Verlag book series on Advances in Industrial Control.

The Process Automation Hall of Fame

Since 2001, we’ve honored the best of the best in process automation:

  • Karl Astrom
  • Terry Blevins
  • Edgar H. Bristol II
  • Richard H. Caro
  • Lynn Craig
  • James H. Cristensen
  • Charles Cutler
  • Thomas F. Edgar
  • William M. Hawkins
  • Marion G. “Bud” Keyes
  • Bèla Liptàk
  • William L. “Bill” Luyben
  • Gregory K. McMillan
  • Richard E. Morley
  • Dr. R. Russell Rhinehart
  • Wyman “Cy” Rutledge
  • Dale E. Seborg
  • F. G. “Greg” Shinskey
  • Thomas M. Stout
  • Angela Summers
  • Terry Tolliver
  • Vernon R. Trevathan
  • Harold Wade
  • Kathleen Waters
  • Ted Williams
  • Read the additional material we coudn't fit in our print edition of this article. Check ControlGlobal.com/halloffameextras.html

    Also, listen to Walt Boyes talking to the 2008 inductees to the Process Automation Hall of Fame.
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