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Automation Hall of Fame Inducts OSU Professor

Friday, June 24, 2005

Russ Rhinehart, a founder of Oklahoma State University’s groundbreaking master’s degree program in control system engineering, has been inducted into the Automation Hall of Fame.

Established by CONTROL magazine, the Hall of Fame welcomes just three new members each year. Rhinehart, who is also Bartlett Professor and head of OSU’s School of Chemical Engineering, was inducted during an awards ceremony at the World Batch Forum at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City.

Rhinehart’s interest in automatic control and statistical process control strategies dates to the start of his career as a process engineer for Celanese in Charlotte, N.C. He enjoyed coaching new engineers and, in the early 1980s when computers entered households, was inspired by the possibility of using computers for automatic on-line process analysis and control. Leaving behind 13 years in industry, he returned to school for a Ph.D. and a full-time career in higher education.

“Academic curiosity and industrial practicality often go in independent directions,” Rhinehart said, upon accepting the award. “Partly, I returned to academe with a mission to bridge the gap in both instruction and knowledge discovery.”

“Academics have solutions, but they are usually incomplete, and industry has problems and can use the academic knowledge, but many factors keep the two separated,” he said. “To maximize benefit from technology discovery and use and to shape education to prepare engineers, academe and industry must find better ways to interact.”

The Automation Hall of Fame induction is recognition of Rhinehart’s academic career of more than 20 years, a tenure distinguished by the practical experience he still brings to teaching and research and his theoretical contributions to the profession.

Soon after he joined the OSU faculty in 1997, Rhinehart spearheaded efforts to establish a master’s degree in control system engineering. Launched two years later and developed with substantial input from the College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology’s industry partners, the innovative program was the first of its kind in the nation. Uniting five CEAT departments and featuring more than 90 graduate level courses to choose from, it was the nucleus of a greater initiative to establish a bastion of graduate education and research in control systems at OSU.

Under Rhinehart’s leadership, the CEAT subsequently joined the College of Engineering at the University of Tennessee, the National Science Foundation and Oak Ridge National Laboratory in launching the Measurement and Control Engineering Center. With its private sector partners, the center unites faculty and students from fields such as chemistry, chemical engineering, electrical engineering, computer engineering and materials science engineering in collaboration on innovative projects with industrial applications.

Prior to coming to OSU, Rhinehart spent 12 years at Texas Tech University where he co-founded the Process Control and Optimization Center. He also developed the Control Engineering Practice Award and tutorial sessions for the American Control Conference, and served many roles within the Instrumentation, Systems and Automation Society, the American Automatic Control Council and the Process Control Systems Forum.

Rhinehart was general chair for the 2002 American Control Conference and a member of the technical advisory board for Pavilion Technologies. He currently serves as AACC treasurer, editor-in-chief of ISA Transactions and a member of the PCSF interim governing board.

As the only magazine exclusively dedicated to the North American process automation market, CONTROL magazine reaches a 70,000-plus community of engineering, operations and management professionals. The industries it serves include the standard process sectors – chemicals, petroleum, food, paper, plastics, metals and textiles – as well as power generation and water/wastewater utilities. Engineering design firms and systems integrators also are represented.

CONTROL magazine’s Automation Hall of Fame inductees are chosen by a nomination and selection process involving practicing, process control engineers. In addition to Rhinehart, the 2005 inductees are Dick Caro, former vice president of ARC Advisory Group and chair of the ISA SP50 Fieldbus standards committee, and Bill Luyben, former control engineer for DuPont and a 36-year member of the faculty at Lehigh University.

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