An announcement made at the ISA Automation Week in Houston was that the Automation Federation (AF) and the IET (Institution of Engineering and Technology, based in London) have signed a formal agreement to collaborate on efforts to advance and grow the automation profession. As a part of this, the IET will also join the ISA, the Organization for Machine Automation and Control (OMAC) and the Wireless Industrial Network Alliance (WINA)—in joint activities devoted to promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics; promoting the Automation Competency Model; and advancing the general public's awareness of automation and technology.
Dr. Gerald Cockrell, CAP, 2010 Automation Federation chair, stated, "Leo Staples, Chairman of the Automation Federation Energy Committee, and Steve Mustard, Chairman for the Americas Regional Board of the IET, were instrumental in the formalization of the agreement between AF and the IET. I commend them for their dedication to the profession."
With 150,000 members in 127 countries, the IET was created in 2006 by joining together the IEE (Institution of Electrical Engineers in London) and the IIE (Institution of Incorporated Engineers), and has a wider engineering remit than just automation. With over 1000 undergraduate programs accredited in the UK, the IET also has the responsibility for awarding professional registration qualifications under license from the Engineering Council. Large user organizations use the IET to audit and accredit graduate and other training schemes. The IET is, therefore, the ideal partner for AF and ISA in terms of any expansion of their professional training and accreditation into the UK, which is a potential future revenue generation area.
In the UK the current government approach over legislating for an increase in tuition fees payable by students at universities could be seen as the catalyst needed to revive industrial training and technical college short courses, leading to more interest in accredited professional qualifications. Technical college courses disappeared when the whole educational establishment was upgraded to degree status some years ago, but with students now facing fees of GBP6000 to-9000 over three years to attend these courses, industry-based training is set for revival.
There have been previous suggestions that an association between the ISA and the Institute of Measurement and Control (InstMC) in the UK would be desirable, certainly from the point of view of the services and development offered by local sections for practicing M+C engineers, where the InstMC has strength – in a similar way to the local sections of ISA in the USA, Ireland and presumably other countries too. The current association between the ISA and the IET might even trigger a discussion as to whether the InstMC should continue as a separate body, or amalgamate with the IET. But then maybe there might even be a closer link between the IET and the ISA?