Reader Feedback: Taking One for the Team

July 13, 2007
A little reader feedback suggests that repeating the patterns of behavior of the past three decades in process automation will, not surprisingly, yield similar results.


I read your last editorial, “Take One for the Team,” June ’07, p. 11. Possibly, it’s the clearest vision of the ISA’s perspective. Unfortunately professionals aren’t aware of ISA’s importance. Without it we can be without a voice.

New ideas are rare these days. Most of us are just worried about keeping the business going. When the days become darker, we’ll try to find help, but then, we may be very fragile. Pay for new ideas. Make people grateful to help. We still have something to do, I hope.

Carlos Liboni / Former ISA district vice president / Founding director of SMAR

There are three factors that contribute to the declining membership rolls of ISA, WBF and, to a lesser extent, IEEE. First, when I started in the business, I heard tales of companies paying for employees’ memberships in trade organizations, and encouraging them to participate. That’s not the case any more.  We’re competing with overseas engineers, who are willing to work 60 hours a week for $5 with no benefits, and our employers don’t see the added value of those memberships and allowing us to spend time at ISA functions. I can’t even get my employer to pay for renewing my PE every year.

Second, for a while I was paying for my own membership in ISA and IEEE, but quit when I didn’t see either organization standing up against outsourcing and the loss of American jobs to unfair overseas competition. In fact, I believe IEEE would prefer to be considered an international organization, and that probably puts its interests in conflict with mine. The latest editorials in InTech, denying a loss of American manufacturing jobs, led me to believe that ISA must feel the same way.  In a nutshell, if they don’t care about me and my future, why should I care about them?

Third, and this mainly applies to ISA, there’s a perception among those of us who actually work as plant and consulting engineers that ISA is a vendors’ club. It charges outrageous prices for the standards it inflicts on us, which were written by vendors for the benefit of vendors.

So please don’t blame the former or potential members of these organizations. Put the blame squarely on the shoulders of the organizations. If they refuse to adapt and change, let them succumb to the changes in the marketplace. As for me, until I see a headline indicating that one or more of these organizations is starting a grass roots campaign and lobbying effort to save American jobs, I think I’ll save my membership fees.

John Miller
(Note: ISA Standards are now free to members-- ed.)

The situation for ISA in India is not much different.

Here, ISA standards have generated a lot of enthusiasm, but what’s missing is training. We should go beyond just selling these standards, and teach automation and control to every automation professional in India. ISA can do it if the regional issues are understood properly and then action taken.

Manmeet Singh Ahuja / AMRIT Consulting Services / Maharahtra, India / [email protected]