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ISA and the Automation Federation take part in annual FIRST® Championship, a global celebration of young people’s interest in science and engineering

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Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, USA (1 May 2014) – As strategic alliance partners of the annual FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Championship held last week in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, the International Society of Automation (ISA) and its umbrella organization, the Automation Federation, hosted an informational exhibit where competing students learned about the automation profession and how to plan for careers in the field.

More than 12,000 students, ages 6 to18, from around the globe gathered April 23-26 at the Edward Jones Dome to put their engineering skills and scientific know-how to the test at various FIRST competitions. The showcase event, the FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC®),  gives students the opportunity to build robots they designed, use sophisticated software and hardware, learn from professional engineers, compete and collaborate, earn recognition, and qualify for millions of dollars in college scholarships.

This year, 68,175 students on 2,727 FRC teams in 17 countries participated in 98 regional and district competitions. In total, more than 350,000 students across the globe participated in FIRST science and technology competitions during the 2013-2014 season. Nearly $20 million in college scholarships, for more than 900 educational opportunities, will be distributed.

“Even though I have attending this event for several years and know what to expect, the caliber of the kids involved in FIRST never ceases to amaze me,” emphasizes Steven Pflantz, an associate at CRB Consulting Engineers who serves as Chair of the Automation Federation’s Workforce Education Committee. “The success of future generations lies in the ability to take talented youth and focus and motivate them, and FIRST seems to have all the right ingredients to make that happen. While I feel good about the information and advice I have given to some of these future automation professionals, they have inspired me to want to do more. I’m already thinking about next year’s event.”

Pflantz was among a contingent of ISA and Automation Federation leaders, volunteers and staff who participated in a FIRST Championship exhibit to interact with student competitors, improve their understanding of automation, and broaden their awareness of automation career fields.

“It was a real pleasure to speak with these young people, many of whom will determine the future of automation,” remarks Cory N. Kniepp, a district sales manager at ASCO Numatics and President of ISA’s St. Louis Section. “I believe the future of our profession is very bright as I was blown away by the skills on display at the competition. It was an amazing experience that only re-energized my own love science and technology, and I look forward to attending future events to see what the kids will come up with next!”

Carrie Tietjen Systems, a systems architect at Experitec, Inc., who also volunteered at the ISA/Automation Federation exhibit, says that she was impressed that so many students were beginning to explore possible career opportunities in automation and engineering.

“FIRST is such a unique and gratifying event,” Tietjen states. “It was rewarding to hear that some of these students were already interested in all types of automation, everything from designing and engineering prosthetic devices to designing roller coasters for Disney.”

Pflantz says that FIRST competitions are so valuable because they encourage young people to apply science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) knowledge in a fun environment and expose them to practical skills—such as problem solving and teamwork—that they will need in the real world.

He encouraged all automation professionals to get more involved in working and mentoring with young people, and to inform them about the many advantages of pursuing a career path in engineering and automation.

“It’s an honor for ISA and the Automation Federation to partner with FIRST,” Pflantz says. “I encourage all automation and engineering professionals to get involved in FIRST on a local level. I guarantee that you will be invigorated and inspired by the enthusiasm and talents of these remarkable young people.”

About FIRST®

Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering. With support from over 200 of the Fortune 500 companies and more than $19 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC® ) for students in Grades 9-12; FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC® ) for Grades 7-12; FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL® ) for Grades 4-8; and Junior FIRST® LEGO®League (Jr.FLL®) for Grades K-3. Gracious Professionalism® is a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. To learn more about FIRST, go to

FIRST and the FIRST logo are registered trademarks of the United States Foundation For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST). LEGO® is a registered trademark of The LEGO Group.

About ISA
Founded in 1945, the International Society of Automation ( is a leading, global, nonprofit organization that is setting the standard for automation by helping over 30,000 worldwide members and other professionals solve difficult technical problems, while enhancing their leadership and personal career capabilities. Based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, ISA develops standards; certifies industry professionals; provides education and training; publishes books and technical articles; and hosts conferences and exhibitions for automation professionals. ISA is the founding sponsor of The Automation Federation (

About the Automation Federation
The Automation Federation is a global umbrella organization of sixteen (16) member organizations and six working groups engaged in automation activities. The Automation Federation enables its members to more effectively fulfill their missions, advance the science and engineering of automation technologies and applications, and develop the workforce needed to capitalize on the benefits of automation. The Automation Federation is the “Voice of Automation.” For more information about the Automation Federation, visit


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