ISA has started to do what many of us have been asking them to do for years: speak to the general public and to the policymakers ABOUT the profession of automation, not just speak to the professionals. Here's a report from Steve Huffman, talking about ISA (wearing the Automation Federation hat) in Washington last week. Keep it up, folks!
November 13-14 Washington, DC Representatives from the Automation Federation went to Washington for two days to visit key members of Congress and also to meet with representatives from the Manufacturing Extension Partnership and the US Department of Labor. Steve Huffman, Leo Staples, Pat Gouhin, Bruno Kisala, Tim Feldman and Mike Marlowe started the two day Hill visit meeting with Aimee Dobrzeniecki and Alex Folk with the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, which is part of the US Department of Commerce. The purpose of the visit was to begin a dialog with MEP and the Automation Federation for the purpose of building a partnership between the two groups. The goal of MEP is to help small and medium size manufacturers to be more successful in a global market through leveraging competitive advantages such as those that can be derived from automation and its related technologies and innovations. The meeting was extremely productive and generated an initial agreement for the two groups to form a partnership. Further discussions will begin soon to focus attention in key areas where the Automation Federation, its member organizations and the MEP can work together. This partnership will also encompass the work of the MEP's in all 50 states. Already, we secured MEP Director, Roger Kilmer, to serve as a keynote speaker for the WBF North American Conference in 2008. At the conclusion of this meeting the group began the rest of the schedule to meet with Senators Kit Bond, Missouri, Senator James Inhofe, Oklahoma, Senator Tom Carper, Delaware and Congressman David Price, North Carolina. The group continued the message with the Senators and Congressman that the Automation Federation first set out to tackle in July visits. We are the Voice of Automation, we want to build a strong relationship with the members of Congress when it involves questions or legislation regarding automation, and through the efforts of the Automation Federation we want to establish the next generation of Automation Professionals. Collectively we are forming an indispensable resource that they need to be aware of and utilize to positively impact the future. The group was well received by the Senators and Congressman Price. All agreed to be supportive of our efforts to inform the other members of Congress regarding the Federation's Congressional goals. Congressman Price agreed to hold a fact finding meeting with Federation leaders and staff in Raleigh, North Carolina for early 2008. Congressman Price is an important leader in Congress and his Committees directly impact Automation Professionals. The group finished a very successful Congressional Hill Visit and moved on to an important meeting with the Department of Labor. At the request of US Senator Richard Burr, North Carolina, a meeting was arranged for the Automation Federation with representatives from the Department of Labor on Wednesday November 14th to discuss the Automation Federation's Workforce Development Initiative. The group met with the staff from the Business Relations Industry Engagement Team, Advanced Manufacturing and Automotive Industry Team and the Trade Adjustment Assistance Team. The group discussed our Initiative and the importance of what it could mean to the future of manufacturing in the United States. The discussions also covered possible funding sources within DOL to further the development of our Initiative. The group also discussed the Federation becoming a Certified Training Provider for DOL. DOL sponsors a career center for aspiring youth and they pledged to incorporate automation and our "Automation is Cool" campaign into their high traffic site, careervoyages.gov. The DOL were responsive to the discussions to the point where DOL and the Automation Federation will enter into a partnership covering a wide range of programs and activities that DOL is involved with that impact Automation. DOL staff is preparing a program activity project list that the Federation and DOL will be working on. Steve Huffman, " As President of the Automation Federation I am extremely pleased with the continuing positive reception we are receiving with the Members of Congress regarding our desire to become the authoritative voice for Automation in Congress. We are building strong allies in Congress that will positively impact the future of the Automation Profession." Steve Huffman, "The Automation Federation has taken a significant step forward for our members through the Partnerships we will be establishing with the Manufacturing Extension Partnership and the US Department of Labor. Both of these federal agencies view our efforts to improve the Automation Profession as a vital part of maintaining the US manufacturing edge in a global market." Pat Gouhin, "The Automation Federation is building credibility in Congress and with regulatory agencies that can have a profound positive impact for Automation in the United States. We are making great progress in our journey to become the voice of Automation and we welcome all others to join our efforts under the banner of the Automation Federation."