Robert Lindeman 2012 President, International Society of Automation
Tell us about your educational background.
I grew up in Orange, California, and attended public elementary through high school there. I graduated from California State University at Fullerton in 1971 with a BS in Electrical Engineering and then attended graduate school at the University of Tennessee Space Institute in Tullahoma. I've always had an interest in math and science, plus a desire to solve problems and find ways to make things work better. I learned early on that my strengths were more for analytical than craftsman challenges. My dad was my inspiration. He was an electrician working construction in the boom days of Southern California and would often relay to me the admiration he had for the engineers who designed what he installed.
Where has your career path taken you so far?
Upon graduation, I went to work for Rockwell International in Los Angeles on the B-1 bomber. My job was with the Dynamics Lab where I was exposed to instrumentation used for vibration, pressure, temperature, acoustic, strain, and acceleration measurement and calibration, as well as the signal conditioning and recording of the data. I was assigned as a field engineer to support wind tunnel testing of the B-1 at Arnold Air Force Base in Tennessee. At Arnold, I moved into the controls area and was fortunate to work through technology advances from relay controls, analog circuits, and single loop controllers to mini computers, microprocessors, PLCs, distributed systems, and custom motion control systems in support of a variety of ground test facilities.
I moved on to project management and have worked on multiple improvement projects for modernizing data and control systems. During this time, I became involved in ISA activities, starting with writing technical papers and helping organize meetings.
What are your goals as ISA President?
My main goals are to increase member benefits and to advance the automation profession around the world. It is truly an honor to serve as ISA President.
What are the challenges facing the automation industry? Security? Training? Standards?
The global automation industry faces challenges in all these areas. Raising awareness of the importance that people play in the automation field is key to addressing these challenges. Technology changes and priorities change, but the need for dedicated, skilled people is constant. We must find and train the future workforce. ISA is heavily engaged in this area through our offerings online, at headquarters, meetings, and conferences, and in plants throughout the world.
The U.S. now ranks 48th in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. What can we do to reverse this trend?
We need to attract the best and brightest students to automation. ISA is working with FIRST, founded by Dean Kamen, to encourage K-to-12 students to gravitate toward STEM and build self-confidence and leadership skills. Through efforts with the Automation Federation, we've developed an Automation Competency Model adopted by the Dept. of Labor to move towards acknowledging automation as an engineering discipline. We're also working with community colleges, technical schools, and universities to establish academic programs in automation. We align our efforts with the larger scientific and engineering community through partnerships with the National Academy of Engineering and other groups doing good work in this area.
What do you do for fun?
I enjoy golfing, relaxing by the pool, and playing guitar. Spending time with my five grandchildren provides many enjoyable memories as well. My wife and I do a little traveling and enjoy going to concerts, mostly classic rock and roll with a little country thrown in.