Brett Israelsen, among Control Engineering Leaders Under 40 for 2010

Want to meet the next generation of manufacturing automation and controls leaders? In November 2010, Control Engineering highlights 19 young professionals from around the globe who are making their marks in everything from system design to academia. These leaders aim to inspire others to get involved in engineering and resolve local and global challenges through smarter applications of automation and control technologies. Meet Brett Israelsen ...


Brett Israelsen, Control Engineer, APCO Inc., Control Engineering Leader Under 40, class of 2010Brett Israelsen, 27    

Control Engineer  2 years

APCO Inc.     

Salt Lake City, UT USA

Job function: System Integration or Consulting      

Academics: University of Utah, Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, focus in controls and robotics; University of Utah Master of Science in Chemical Engineering, focus in process control and system identification

Achievements: For my Master's degree I designed software to make dynamic models of systems. These models can be used in nonlinear model predictive control. The method used to make the models is especially useful in industrial situations because it makes models from plant I/O data. It is also an improvement over other existing nonlinear, dynamic, modeling techniques, because it requires much less I/O data for a similar confidence in the model fit. This drastically reduces step testing time, which is a significant cost in making these models. NMPC is not practical in all situations; however, when used correctly on the right processes, it can increase efficiency/throughput by 3-10%. This means a lot of money for many customers.

Control Engineering Leader Under 40, class of 2010 logoAlthough I have just recently begun my engineering career, I am excited to contribute to the advancement of control technology. I hope to be able to make nonlinear control more common in applications where it is needed. It is almost difficult to call what I do work, because I enjoy it so much. Non-work hobbies: I have started training for a triathlon. I have always enjoyed being active and now that I am no longer working and going to school, I have a bit more time to enjoy the outdoors by biking, running, and swimming.

Engineering hobbies: Earlier this year I participated as a volunteer in the FIRST robotics competition. I thought that it would be fun to be involved with high school students who are interested in engineering. It was a great experience. I have also enjoyed tutoring some engineering students. It is fulfilling to be able help others understand engineering principles.           

More? I can speak/read three languages: English, Spanish, and Portuguese. I have a wife and two children who are very supportive of me. I love to spend time with them when I am home.    

Start in controls: The first time I remember being exposed to the idea of control was at school where I saw a plot of a step response for an under-damped second order system. That is still one of my favorite images. In my mind the desires to improve efficiency and optimize systems are necessary attitudes for control engineering. Many times control engineers have to present the possibilities to those who may not understand the capabilities of technology. I love seeing customers’ eyes light up when I ask, “Would you like to do this?” and they reply, “I didn't know that was possible!”

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- Compiled by Renee R. Bassett for Control Engineering.

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