ISA's Bid for International Significance
By : Jim Pinto,
By : Jim Pinto,
The ISA name change resolution was passed by a wide margin in October of this year. The Society now has several major initiatives which include workforce development, automation profession advocacy, advancement of standards and global growth.
Promoted by the executive director and strongly supported by its executive board, ISA has been seeking to change what the acronym stands for, from Instrumentation, Systems and Automation to International Society of Automation.
After the name change resolution was narrowly voted down by the council of delegates last year, it passed by a wide margin in October of this year. To understand the society's soul, it's important to understand the reasons why many members opposed the change.
The strongest argument against change seems to be that the name had already been changed less than ten years ago from Instrument Society of America, to eliminate the whimsical confusion with musical instruments and signify a broader involvement with Systems and Automation. Opponents argued, why not just "ISA" like "IBM", which manufactured business machines; or 3M, which was Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing. The name ISA could be followed by the tag line "Setting the Standard for Automation", which is primarily what the Society does.
Some were opposed to the appearance of becoming an international, for-profit organization rather than a volunteer-driven, professional society. They argued that the vast majority of ISA's intellectual property was developed by members in the United States and Canada, and dissemination to new ISA members in low labor-rate countries would simply exacerbate current U.S. problems of job outsourcing. In a period of high unemployment among North American professionals, international expansion can be a sore subject. Members in other countries should understand this reluctance, and demonstrate how they too can expand the Society's influence through contributing significant new value.
Executive Director Pat Gouhin is experienced with volunteer organizations and is empathetic about the backpressure. Now that the name change has been approved, he is enthusiastic about the Society's major initiatives:
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