ISA's proposed name change rebuffed

In a startling and (by me, at least) unexpected development, the ISA Council of Society Delegates yesterday voted down a proposal that had unanimously passed the ISA Executive Board to change the name of the society from a TLA (three letter acronym) ISA with a tagline, The Instrumentation, Systems and Automation Society to "the International Society for Automation." Jim Tatera, one of the delegates voting against the proposition, noted that there was no real organized opposition, just a great deal of dissatisfaction with the way the Executive Board had marketed the proposal. There was some opposition, he noted, based on the traditional ISA viewpoint that automation has to do with building cars and stuff, while instrumentation and control has to do with the wet process industries. "When we investigated, we found that even the automotive people don't call it automation," Tatera said. He went on, "the test and measurement folks and the environmental monitoring folks felt that they were being left out, too." Tatera said that he wasn't opposed in principle to the name change, but that some substantial work needed to be done to re-present the issue next year. He said that part of that work was a needed definition of what automation is and what it means. ISA Executive Director, Pat Gouhin noted, "There was a legitimate concern that a uniform definition of automation, with instrumentation as a critical element, has not yet been developed. I believe that the Society has the responsibility to lead the charge to define the profession by developing and embracing such a definition. We'll be able to present the world with a comprehensive scope for automation, allowing for the advancement of the profession and the professional." For me, automation is the discipline we practice. Instrumentation, sensors, control valves, control systems, MES, networking and communications on the plant floor, all are part of the discipline of automation. Environmental monitoring and control, automated test and measurement, and other subdisciplines all fit nicely under the big tent of automation, where many subdisciplines just didn't fit in the much smaller domain of instrumentation and control. The new name would also have committed ISA, in its name, not just its tagline, to truly global work on behalf of the automation professional. Some members of the Council of Society Delegates felt that ISA was already global, and that the name change didn't have to have the word in it, but I politely beg to disagree. ISA has sent an unfortunate signal to its international members. You will hear more from me on this issue as the year progresses toward the next CSD meeting.

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Comments

  • Yes a golden opportunity has been missed.

    Unfortunately if the motion comes before the CSD next year and passes the impetus will have been lost. And the message has been sent out that the ISA is "against change" or worse still is a champion of narrow parochialism. Both these messages are, in my experience as a European, not a true reflection of the society.

    The real tragedy is that the narrowness of the margin will be lost in the minutiae of the story. In fact a large majority of those voting - it was around 60/30 - were for the name change but the majority was around 2% below the majority needed. If those who had abstained had in fact voted in favour the motion would have passed.

    However I sound like the Irish football team who return home triumphantly after every defeat..

    A defeat for this motion is a real setback for the society and must be recognised as such.

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