Reply To: What advice would you offer new (young) controls engineers?

CajunconfiguratorSean Terrell
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Get out of the office and operate. Actually put your feet where the operator is going to stand, or mash the buttons the operator is going to have to mash. Look at the screen she is going to have to gather information from and stare at it… Stare at every screen for over an hour, with your feet in the spot he is going to stand. Maybe you will find that mounting that HMI 6 feet off the ground is not such a great idea when you start to get a crick in your neck.

Do it for 12 hours. then do it for 12 hours more. Writing a program from engineering documents, or making an HMI or flow work according to a control narrative is not the hard part. The hard part is figuring out that if you have to press three keys on the touchscreen, every. single. machine. cycle. Your operators arent going to like you, your finger is going to be sore after 12 hours, and production’s precious cycle time is going to be ridiculous, and you are going to run through HMI’s about every 6 months.

When you are designing a panel that is going to be installed outside of a building, on the south side, in Southern Texas, maybe a 6 inch black and white PVP is not the best choice for this environment. Unless you are only going to look at it at night.

Sit in the controlroom and watch the SCADA for a week. Seriously. A week. You will find pretty quickly that not everything needs HIHI, HI, LO, and LOLO alarms or shutdowns. In fact you will find pretty quickly that the way that operators operate, especially in control rooms, is not per the obvious design. And alot of that has to do with, “thats how we have always done it”. Because someone changed something 3 years ago, never finished the project and the gal currently running the thing was hired on 2 years ago and she is a jam up operator but the bypass work around hacky fix is literally all she knows. Its just “the way you do it”.

Also, learn very quickly, talk to operators. Ask them questions. They are intimately familiar with how something is supposed to run. And sometimes that is exactly the key to unlocking the problem.

The millennial generation and the one following them, are very thoughtful and socially concerned people. I am sure that the next generations of engineers and automation guys are going to work tirelessly to make other peoples lives better, safer, cleaner, and more comfortable. But you cannot do that on social media, angry facing a picture of something that “shouldn’t be.” Put on your nikes that you bought, and lets go for a ride, put your hands on everything and never quit trying to make it better, smoother, faster, slicker, leaner and meaner.

Drive it like you stole it.