Of his career journey, Dr. Peter Martin of Invensys Operations Management says, "I certainly did not take a direct path into process automation. I earned my BA and MS in mathematics, and in the early 1970s it was difficult to get work as a mathematician, so I took a job as a computer programmer and learned computer science and programming. From there, I took a job as a mathematician at Factory Mutual Engineering Corp., combining the mathematics and computer science skills. I had some difficulty working in an office, so I switched careers for a year and taught in both high school and college. From there, the Foxboro Co. (now Invensys Operations Management) hired me into its Education Services organization. The combination of teaching, computer science and mathematics seemed to be an ideal fit at the time. Working in Educational Services allowed me to learn automation and control from some of the best in the industry, such as Greg Shinskey and Carroll Ryskamp [both Process Automation Hall of Fame Members] and Lew Gordon. I found process automation to be much more interesting and challenging than software development or information technology, and I have spent the rest of my career learning and working in process automation."
Unlike Martin, Ian Verhappen was involved in automation from the very beginning of his career. "I started as a chemical engineer working as a field/process/plant engineer in the oil and gas industry, where part of my duties included support for instruments in a gas plant," he says. "In 1987, I applied with Syncrude Canada Ltd., where Pierre Tremblay was looking for a process analyzer engineer, and believed that analyzer systems were like small process plants, and as a result I became a process analyzer engineer. Pierre proved right, and because process analyzer systems required data transfer I quickly learned about loop diagrams and the wide range of field devices needed to support an analyzer system."
Verhappen got involved with ISA, the International Society of Automation, and held various posts in the organization. "So when Syncrude wanted to better understand Foundation Fieldbus (FF) in 1994, I was asked to lead the team that undertook the world's first multi-vendor FF pilot test, which ran through 1997," adds Verhappen.
"In parallel with this, I continued working with ISA in both Standards and Practices and Publications, and when the ISA hosted the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) meeting in 1998, I started my involvement with the Standards Council of Canada and with the IEC. While serving as ISA vice president of Publications, I and Augusto Perreira co-authored the first edition of our Foundation fieldbus book, soon to be in its fourth edition in English, Spanish and Portuguese.
"In 2001," Verhappen continues, "I was asked to lead the Fieldbus Foundation's Global End User Advisory Council, and served in this capacity until 2006, when I joined MTL as director of Industrial Networks. During this time, as a result of my work on the interoperability project, I was invited to participate in an FF speaking tour of Australia, and this became an 'annual pilgrimage.' It was during these trips that I became friends with Steve McKay and, as a result, an instructor for IDC training."
Still involved with ISA, Verhappen is currently ISA Parliamentarian, as well as District 10 vice president elect. He is currently managing director of Industrial Automation Networks Inc., an obvious pun on his first name. "I am now a regular columnist and blogger for Control, Industrial Networking and several other publications in Australia and Canada."
Life, the Universe and Everything
"I am the eldest of five children, and a first-generation Canadian," Verhappen relates. "I remember moving around quite often as I was growing up until we settled down in the Northwest Territories and in particular, Yellowknife.
"Growing up in Yellowknife allowed us to enjoy the outdoors from a cabin 30 minutes from home in the summer, and being encouraged by my father to become a figure skater rather than a hockey player in the winter gave me the chance to participate as an athlete in several Arctic Winter Games as well as one Canada Winter Games.
"I must have had an inkling I would end up in the automation field because in college I took all but one of the chemical engineering program process control courses offered. This was the core of the chemical
process control curriculum after it was announced as a specialization a few years later," he says.
"In the final year of college, I was also the University of Alberta mascot, and in my final term met Michele just as she was finishing her nursing degree at U of A. We were married upon the completion of my first year engineering.
"After graduation, I took a field engineering position in Wainright, Alberta; Michele became a stay-at-home wife; and we had our two daughters, Ashley and Madeleine. By then we'd moved to Syncrude and Fort McMurray.