Robert Rice, 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 Robert Rice ...


Robert Rice, Vice President, Control Station Inc., Control Engineering Leader Under 40, class of 2010Robert Rice, 33         

Vice President, 1 year 

Control Station Inc.               

Tolland, CT USA        

Job function: Other Engineering, including Evaluation, QC, Standards, Reliability, Test, Project, Software, Plant, Electrical, Mechanical, or Electronic 

Academics: PhD, Chemical Engineering, University of Connecticut; MS, Chemical Engineering, University of Connecticut; BS, Chemical Engineering, Virginia Tech        

Achievements: I've led the transformation of Control Station to the recognized leader in PID controller tuning software. I have held principal responsibility for all product development initiatives and engineering services since joining the company in 2004. During that time, Control Station's software has been consistently recognized for innovation, receiving two Control Engineering Engineers' Choice Awards and two Vaaler Awards. Based on the value of our software, I have had the opportunity to oversee the formation of technology partnerships and distribution relationships with leading automation vendors such as Rockwell Automation and Yokogawa. I have also served as the lead architect of our soon-to-be-released performance monitoring solution. These technologies have driven Control Station's rapid growth, and they are helping industry practitioners to control production processes more safely and efficiently.

Control Engineering Leader Under 40, class of 2010 logoBeyond the creation of new technologies I have worked hard to promote the use of industry best-practices. Over the years I have been invited to speak on process control best-practices at numerous industry conferences and chapters of ISA. Most recently I was recognized by the St Louis Chapter with their 2009 Speaker of the Year award; earlier this year my contributions were recognized with promotion to vice president.        

Non-work hobbies: Most of my free time is spent enjoying the outdoors with my wife and six-year-old son. We spend significant time hiking, biking, and otherwise exploring the coastline and parks of New England. Having grown up in Florida where the heat was a constant, I appreciate the seasonal changes of the Northeast. Our outdoor activities provide a welcome break from the rigors of work, and they've provided countless and rewarding experiences with my young family.   

Engineering hobbies: Like my son Tucker, I like to build things. I was taught building and construction techniques by my father and, like my dad, I'm passing those skills along. In the past year alone I've constructed a number of freestanding structures, including a 40-sq-ft goat chalet for a neighbor. The structure is complete with a covered side porch, windows fitted with custom shutters, and a flower box. It's widely known that every respectable goat needs a flower box.     

More? Two dirty little secrets: (1) I began my career in videography, and (2) I am a beer snob.

(1) During high-school I took countless classes in videography. The skills I developed were of great benefit to my high school. During my senior year, I helped the school to win 15 state-level awards for excellence in videography. 

(2) While in college I formed the zymurgy club and served as its president. Classmates from the School of Engineering joined and we raised $2,000 for equipment and supplies. At the club's zenith, we produced ~20 gallons of brew each week and became widely popular.  

Start in controls: I'm a self-proclaimed nerd. I first touched a computer keyboard at the age of six and I quickly became hooked on software. The power of computer technology and the way that people interact with software has always intrigued me. While at Virginia Tech, I was befriended by a controls professor and he mentioned a large donation of Wonderware software and PLCs that had been given to the university. The professor didn't have time to implement it, so I volunteered. By the end of the semester, I had wired the university's lab and implemented an intuitive HMI using the software.

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- Compiled by Renee R. Bassett for Control Engineering.

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