Dean Ford, 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 Dean Ford ...


Dean Ford, CAP, Director Operational Consulting, Maverick Technologies, Control Engineering Leader Under 40, class of 2010Dean Ford, CAP, 39

Director Operational Consulting, 2 years

Maverick Technologies

Columbia, IL   USA      

Job function: System Integration or Consulting      

Academics: BS Electrical Engineering, Missouri Science and Technology University; Certified Automation Professional (CAP)    

Achievements: Few have the passion I do. My entire 20+ year career has dealt with automation: from a co-op with Anheuser-Busch as an electrical engineering student, to helping my college get PLC programming classes started, to obtaining the Certified Automation Professional [designation], and now being a consultant. I started as a PLC programmer and designer, moving into HMI, databases, instrumentation, and on up to manufacturing systems. I now consult with clients to help them apply automation to benefit them in the short- and long-term. Currently, I am active in ISA, ISA99, ISA88, ISA95, and ISA101 standards committees. I serve as the chair of the Communications Committee for the Automation Federation, and am a member of the Government Relations committee, where we promote the profession at the ministry level of government, both domestically and internationally. As a representative of the profession, I have been to Washington, D.C., on three occasions to promote the profession, as well as [handled] workforce development and Industrial Automation Cybersecurity. I am in the ISA CAP marketing DVD and am actively mentoring subordinates, peers, and students. I have recently started an automation profession blog to continue promoting the profession online.    

Control Engineering Leader Under 40, class of 2010 logoNon-work hobbies: I wanted to experience the Going Green concepts for myself. I put in a vegetable garden and experienced canning and making pickles. I installed a clothesline for drying clothes. I installed a water pressure valve on our well pump. We canceled our telephone land line service. We discontinued our trash service so we could gain a real understanding of what trash we generate each month. We stopped using paper towels and plastic grocery bags. I added insulation and changed our lighting to compact fluorescent while installing timers and power strips to eliminate vampire users. The modifications have paid for themselves.

Engineering hobbies: I increased the size of our pond to 4,500 gallons to make it a more healthy and self-sustaining environment. I designed and built a self-sustaining bio-filter that requires no maintenance. For pumping, lighting, and fountains, I had to design the system such that the pumping system would be sized properly. Another activity is communicating the importance of engineering and dispelling the “engineering is not cool” myths. I am primarily doing this through online activities by getting involved on LinkedIn and starting my own blog to spread the word of the good things that are going on in our profession. [link to blog]

More? I have a unique ability to work through a complex problem and find the root cause. My peers rely on me for this ability when starting up systems, as I do not make any assumptions until the data proves the answer. I am also unafraid of tackling any challenge. The more impossible, the better. I believe most people think too small and miss out on making real, lasting changes. Mostly, I enable those around me; I gain a great deal of pleasure from helping others succeed and reach goals they thought unattainable.   

Start in controls: I fell into automation as we all did. Growing up, I discovered an ability to put electrical and mechanical skills to work together to solve problems. Along came computers and I easily grasped the logical world in which they work. I have a saying, “It's all ones and zeros,” meaning that no matter how complicated something is, the computer is just working on ones and zeros so, really, how complicated can any challenge be? I had the opportunity to co-op with the engineering at Anheuser-Busch that landed me behind a terminal programming a PLC, designing panels, and starting up systems.

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- Compiled by Renee R. Bassett for Control Engineering.

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