August 2012
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The Automation Federation assists in developing the first high school automation course in the Durham, North Carolina, USA public school system

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Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, USA (20 August 2012) – The Automation Federation, in participating in a ground-breaking partnership to increase engineering instruction in America’s public schools, announced today that it is providing subject matter expertise in the teaching of new automation classes, beginning in the fall 2012 semester, at Riverside High School in Durham, NC.

For the first time, Riverside High School will be offering an automation curriculum, which carries an AP-level weighting. Already, 12 high school students have registered for the fall classes. Plans are underway to unveil an automation course curriculum at other schools within the Durham Public Schools (DPS).

The introduction of automation classes at Riverside High School is part of a state-wide educational initiative involving the Automation Federation, North Carolina Project Lead The Way (NC PLTW), Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering and the NC Department of Public Instruction. NC PLTW is a component of a national effort to help elementary, middle and secondary school students develop their science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills, and enable them to lead and better compete in a high-tech, high-skill global economy.

“I am very pleased that we are able to introduce automation classes to our students at Riverside High School,” says Rick Sheldahl, director of Career-Technical Education at DPS. “I know that the manufacturing industry is crying out for students with an educational background in automation. With the help of the Automation Federation, NC PLTW, Duke University and the DPS, we now have the opportunity to begin educating our students that have a desire to pursue a career in automation.”

Sheldahl and Tim Velegol, coordinator of the Engineering Department and chair of the Career and Technical Education Department at DPS, worked closely with Automation Federation staff and volunteers to craft the automation course offering at the high school.

In collaborating, the Automation Federation furnished the subject matter expertise for the course, NC PLTW purchased support equipment, and the DPS supplied electrical and IT support and identified the teachers who would provide the classroom instruction.

Both the Automation Federation and the International Society of Automation (ISA), the founding sponsor of the federation, were involved in generating interest for the course among students at Riverside High School. Pat Gouhin, ISA executive director, and Mike Marlowe, managing director of the Automation Federation, presented the automation career program to a gathering of nearly 50 students at the high school.

“The introduction of automation course curriculum at Riverside High School is exciting, to say the least,” emphasizes Leo Staples, 2012 Automation Federation chair. “I know that it will be successful and will lead to classes being offered at other high schools. We expect our work with Durham Public Schools will serve as a template that can be used to introduce automation curriculum at school systems throughout the country.”

Automation professionals and engineers play a crucial role in ensuring the reliability, efficiency and safety of America’s automated manufacturing operations, electric power and transportation systems. Without talented individuals to design, build, maintain and improve automated processes, many technological advances would never have occurred and any future innovations would never be achieved.

As a result, business, engineering and educational leaders across the U.S. are working in partnership to improve the quantity and quality of engineers and engineering technologists graduating from America’s educational system. This effort is essential given the shortage of these professionals in the marketplace, and the need for the U.S. to improve its worldwide competitiveness.

About the Automation Federation
The Automation Federation is a global umbrella organization under which member associations and societies engaged in manufacturing and process automation activities can work more effectively to 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 working to become the “Voice of Automation.” For more information about the Automation Federation, visit

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 (


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