2005 Process Automation Hall of Fame

CONTROL lines up this year's Process Automation Hall of Fame inductees, three chemical engineers who got interested in the nuts, bolts and wires of control processes they learned about in school.

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A devoted family man, and for many years an avid part time farmer, Luyben is well known for maintaining a robust work/life balance. His son Michael sums up, “Most importantly, I admire and respect the high standards my dad has set and maintained for his work and his efforts to provide balance, support and practical relevance to others in field.”

        R. Russell Rhinehart 

Hooked by process control!

Dr. R. Russell Rhinehart is the head of the School of Chemical Engineering at Oklahoma State University, and holds the Bartlett Endowed Chair, like Bill Luyben, Rhinehart has not always been an academic. His view of the role of higher education in the development of both human and technical resources is substantially a product of his industrial career, where he had various positions in process development, product development and plant technical support.
Rhinehart’s primary research interests are in the practical application of advanced technology for automated process management (control, optimization, perception, monitoring and autonomy). He believes that implementation and need should guide theory and analysis; and expectedly, his program has a strong experimental component–several automated pilot-scale units that are used for both control research and the undergraduate unit operations laboratory. He believes that solutions need to be simple, and that credibility requires experimental evidence.

He achieved degrees in Nuclear Engineering, but after earning his MS he started working as a process development engineer in a pilot plant facility for Celanese, at its Charlotte, N.C. R&D lab. During this period he was first introduced to and “hooked” by process control. At the time, Rhinehart also coached boys and girls YMCA gymnastic teams, enjoying the chance to help these young people develop their maximum physical potential while transferring the gymnastic skills he learned in college to a new generation.

Similarly, he enjoyed coaching new engineering hires, helping them shed their student personas and develop themselves as professional partners within the enterprise. Seeking to combine his professional passion with the joy of developing people was one reason why he decided to switch to an academic career. The other reason was to pursue the potential that the computer offered for process control and management automation. In the late ‘70s, the games that Rhinehart programmed on his 32K-RAM home computer for his children were more sophisticated than the algorithms that the plant engineers were using for process control and analysis.

Rhinehart chose North Carolina State University (NCSU)to pursue his doctorate in chemical engineering. During the course of his studies he served as pilot plant engineer for a coal gasification and gas cleaning facility run by NCSU for the EPA. Upon graduation, he took a faculty position at Texas Tech University, and progressed through the faculty ranks to professor and graduate administrator. While at TTU, Rhinehart co-founded the Process Optimization and Control Center.

In 1997, after 12 years at TTU, Rhinehart was selected to become Head of the School of Chemical Engineering at Oklahoma State University (OSU), which has a strong and diverse control engineering program. His leadership has manifested itself in a number of ways. To meet the needs of both full-time students and practicing engineers wishing to develop multi-disciplinary skill, Rhinehart co-founded the Masters of Control Engineering program. He also co-founded the OSU affiliate of the Measurement and Control Engineering Center, a National Science Foundation cooperative center for industrial sponsorship of R&D. Rhinehart and Dr. Jan Wagner, with significant help from the industry, converted the undergraduate unit operations lab into a world-class facility that can also be used to explore advanced automation, benefiting the undergraduates in understanding process automation while permitting the testing and exploration of new concepts. Rhinehart is especially proud of his academic program that continues its strong historical tradition, and a high degree of student accomplishment. Rhinehart’s students continue to excel in many ways and hold prominent process control and process management positions around the world.

As with Luyben, Rhinehart is a life-long work/life balance practitioner and enjoys woodworking, gardening and designing houses. Along with his wife Donna, Rhinehart has designed and built four homes–three since moving to Oklahoma! The couple has five sons and two granddaughters. Like all the other honorees, his awards are numerous, and well deserved.

A Commitment to the Future
All three of these men have spent thousands of hours volunteering for their professional societies, including ISA, AIChE, IEEE and others. Despite extremely demanding schedules, both in industry and academe, Dick Caro, Bill Luyben, and Russ Rhinehart have truly shown that the more you give to your profession, the more you get back.

On behalf of the editorial board and all the editors of CONTROL we congratulate this year’s inductees, and along with their peers, welcome Dick, Bill and Russ into the CONTROL Magazine Process Automation Hall of Fame.

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