Spain's Industrial Control Seminar A Worldwide Hit

For its second time out, the Seminar for Advanced Industrial Control Applications was a success

7 February 2008

For its second time out, the Seminar for Advanced Industrial Control Applications, or SAICA, proved quite a hit. Its 95 attendees from 14 countries was more than triple the attendance at the first seminar, held in 2005.

SAICA is sponsored by Spain’s joint chapter of the IEEE Industry Applications and the IEEE Control Systems societies. The seminar, held 5 and 6 November at the Gomez Pardo Foundation in Madrid, is the chapter’s showcase event, a forum for discussing options in advanced industrial control, including technologies offered by leading Spanish high-tech companies and universities.

Joël McConnell, the chapter’s communications coordinator, notes that the conference’s attendance boost was the result of an effort to broaden its scope beyond Spain. The 2005 conference had targeted only Spanish companies and professionals, attracting 25 people and papers from just two companies. In 2007, a concerted effort was made to attract speakers and attendees from around the world. Representatives from 25 companies and 21 universities attended, and the sessions were held in English as well as Spanish.

The effort paid off. Ciengis in Coimbra, Portugal; DONG Energy in Copenhagen; Real Time Engineering Ltd. in Glasgow; Siemens AG in Munich; and Yokogawa in Milan sent representatives. Several major international control companies, including Aspentech Technologies, Emerson Process Management, and National Instruments, sent employees from their Spanish divisions. Auburn University in Alabama; Kangwon National University in Chuncheon, South Korea; and the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow were some of the research institutions in attendance.

“Our success is a credit to the tremendous effort by IAS volunteers in regions 8, 9, and 10,” says IEEE Fellow Mark Halpin, the society’s president and a keynote speaker. “Individual volunteers took the initiative to conceive of, develop, and nurture SAICA for the benefit of members in these regions, who reaped the rewards.”

Says Fouad Murad, who came to the meeting from the American University of Beirut in Lebanon, “This [conference] was very interactive, and I learned a lot.” Adds Jesus Fraile Ardanuy from the Polytechnic University of Madrid, it was “a great seminar with very interesting speakers, and the attendees left very satisfied.”

FAST FACTS The joint chapter began life in 2001 as a chapter of the IAS. In 2004, Senior Member Juan M. Martín Sánchez took over as chapter president from founder and IEEE Member José Sánchez Fernandez and proposed hosting a technical conference, which led to the first SAICA in 2005. The chapter reorganized in 2006, joining forces with the Control Systems Society to boost membership. That merger proved successful, attracting 100 new members, according to McConnell. The joint chapter now has nearly 230 members.

Membership in both societies is well distributed throughout Spain, with 52 percent working in the industry applications field and 49 percent in control systems development. Plans for 2008 include launching a training course on advanced industrial control that will be available online and taught in a classroom. The joint chapter also will inaugurate a program of site visits to local companies to learn about their technologies. And, of course, there will be the planning for SAICA 2009.

For more information and to read the text of a selection of papers presented, visit the seminar's website.

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