Five of Automation’s Biggest Hits

Meet the Process Automation Hall of Fame Inductees of 2009

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Kennedy says of his career, “Because of the jobs that I had (technical sales support, project management, software development) I got a wide and varied look with a lot of emphasis on the value of why we were doing this. I have enjoyed the field, and I think it is a good blend of real world and ‘nex gen’ technology,” he says. “I don’t see a field that will grow and prosper more than automation, but the appeal to the new people will depend upon the adoption of the tools that they are comfortable with—like, how would you tune a controller with an iPhone, and does your plant text you when it is in trouble?”

“The most significant trends are the continued move to a real-time digital world and the actual connection of the business to the management of the facilities. It’s the infrastructure,” Kennedy concludes, “that is important.”

Carroll RyskampCarroll Ryskamp, Automation’s Mystic

Fellow Hall of Famer Edgar Bristol II was inclined to characterize Foxboro’s control expertise as “Greg (Shinskey) the logician, me the theoretician and Carroll the mystic.”

“In 1958,” Ryskamp says, “at the Marathon Oil Detroit Refinery, I modified a pneumatic pressure control loop so that one controller could operate two valves. I changed the calibration of the valve positioners to accomplish this split range. The operators appreciated it, but so did the management, because condensable product would not be wasted because of lack of attention.”

Ryskamp, a chemical engineer, started doing something else and wound up doing automation. “In 1962,” he says, “I had the chance to take a short course in process dynamics and control at the Colorado School of Mines. I realized how much most chemical engineers were missing by studying only steady-state phenomena. This started my career in process control.”

From 1965 to 1970, Ryskamp worked for Marathon’s corporate office in Findlay, Ohio. In 1970, Ryskamp joined what was then the Foxboro Company, now Invensys Process Systems, as a systems application consultant. “I did the process analysis, control design, some of the implementation, startup and training,” he says. “These projects were for many of the major oil companies, smaller ones, chemical plants and other customers.”

In 1986, Ryskamp went into business as a consultant and retired in 1994.

Cecil SmithCecil Smith, the Teachers’ Teacher

“In over 35 years in process control,” says Cecil L. Smith, “I’ve worked with virtually every control technology being applied in industrial production facilities.”

“My primary focus,” he goes on, “is on designing a control strategy for a process and then commissioning the controls, that is, the process aspects as opposed to systems aspects.”  He is proficient with DCSs, PLCs, PC-based controls and single-loop, microprocessor-based controls and is capable of resolving both process and system problems. In fact, earlier in his career, as a professor at Louisiana State University (LSU), he produced, along with Dr. Paul Murrill, some well-known and well-regarded textbooks on computer programming and computer science. “In 1964, I got into computing by learning Fortran from the IBM manuals for a 1620 computer” Smith says.  “This led me into automation, following pioneers like Tom Stout, Tom Wherry and Bob Parsons.”

Smith left LSU to go on his own—to teach. Currently, under the banner of Cecil L. Smith Inc., Smith teaches a variety of courses on process control,  advanced process control, distillation control and many others.

Like many members of the Process Automation Hall of Fame, Smith is passionate about engineering education. He’s written several articles about the need for engineers to widen their horizons, and even learn to sell—both themselves and their products and abilities.

Smith is outspoken. “Engineering and automation have both been good to me,” he says, “but I am concerned about the future.  All trends point to outside the U.S., both in regard to work opportunities and to new developments in the technology.”

The most obvious trend continues to be outsourcing, he thinks. “Few user companies currently view automation technology as giving them a competitive edge, hence the attitude of farming out this work at the minimum possible cost.”

This year, the Process Automation Hall of Fame Award Ceremony will be held April 23 at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Rosemount, Ill., concurrent with the WBF Executive Summit on Procedure-Based Manufacturing. 

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