1660601353592 Editorial11

Beam me up: Editor in Chief Paul Studebaker says good-bye

Dec. 12, 2019
You’ve been my inspiration, but it takes a set of real experts to deliver the goods.

Recently, my colleague and editor of Plant Services reminded me that when I interviewed him for the job, I told him the most important thing was that he really loved the topic—industrial maintenance and asset management. He didn’t need to know all about it, but he should care about it, and relate to his readers who do it for a living.

When I joined Control in 1993, I had an MS in metallurgical engineering and 10 years’ experience in manufacturing, but I knew very little about automation and control, the process industries, or even how to make a magazine. Over the next decade, I enjoyed learning the details of how you go about engineering, installing and maintaining instruments and controls. And the details of the hardware—pressure, level, flow and temperature sensors; valves and actuators; motors, drives and dampers—have been fascinating.

I then spent about a decade editing Plant Services, and gained even more respect, not only for the people who design, run and keep your plants safe, reliable and productive, but also for the power of a good magazine. When I started on Plant Services, I didn’t know much about proper lubrication, condition monitoring, failure modes and effects, etc., but after about five years, I was able to take and pass the Certified Maintenance and Reliability Professional (CMRP) exam. Just on the strength of reading every page of every issue.

When I came back to Control, I was able to truly appreciate the wisdom, talents and motivations of our cast of contributors. Bela Liptak has no equal in his knowledge of control, and is driven to not only make that knowledge available in his Lessons Learned and Ask the Experts columns, other writings and books, but to apply it to some of the greatest engineering challenges of our time, from safe nuclear reactors to renewable energy and solutions for global warming.

Greg McMillan has done it all, and along the way, with the help of his mentors, discovered innumerable axioms and methods that bring theory into practice. More important, he’s nearly maniacal about making everything he knows accessible to his fellow practitioners and the next generation through his Control Talk column and blog, other writings and books, always with a dose of optimism and humor you don’t find anywhere else.

John Rezabek’s On the Bus columns bring you right to the scenes of process control crimes perpetuated in his very real world to illustrate why you need to pay attention to both principles and people. Read one of his columns, and you have to come back for more.

In Without Wires, Ian Verhappen boldly goes where many fear to tread—right into the maw of emerging standards and best practices for networking both wired and wireless, where he shines his light on just enough to give us a better understanding, in 700 words or less.

Our newest, but still veteran regular contributor is Russ Rhinehart, who spent his career as a professor bridging theory and practice, and striving to instill in his students (and Oklahoma State’s curriculum) what’s really needed to function in industry, not just to get an A.

During my magazine career, I also learned the value of a real journalist, early on from Dave Fusaro, and recently from our executive editor, Jim Montague. Real journalists—with a degree in it—aren’t generally steeped in a given topic, so they know how important it is to get their facts straight. Then they back them up with quotes from multiple topic experts to deliver a true and balanced narrative. And they also know to write an interesting and engaging story.

I wouldn’t have been able to put it all together and deliver it in a magazine with Control’s style and sass without my own mentor and boss, Keith Larson, who taught me everything I know about this business. I hear you'll see more of his work on these pages starting in January, when I’ll be retired.

So, thanks, dear readers, for inspiring me every day, and thanks, contributors and coworkers, for delivering the goods. Fare well.

About the author: Paul Studebaker
Paul Studebaker, Editor Emeritus, Control. Reitred from full-time employment in January 2020, Studebaker earned a master's degree in metallurgical engineering and gathered 12 years experience in manufacturing before becoming an award-winning writer and editor for publications including Control and Plant Services

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