60th Anniversary: CE History from 60, 30 and 15 years ago

Happy 60th, Control Engineering! Help us celebrate by looking at issues from 60, 30, and 15 years ago. Control Engineering magazine first published in September 1954. This monthly column in 2014 will review coverage in issues 60 (or 59), 30, and 15 years ago. While technologies have progressed since then, topics below (technicians abroad, foreign control suppliers, female engineers) remain relevant today.

May 24, 2014

June 1955: Editorial—Needed: Technicians abroad

Domestic feedback to Control Engineering is clear cut. We are assured that the American frontiers of control are in development and application engineering. Letters from overseas, however, are troubled. In most of western Europe the advance of industrial activity and the problems incident to control are much like those in America. But in countries that are undergoing an industrial awakening, the situation is far different. In these countries control engineers constitute a small minority. Yet they are outspoken pioneers. Many have studied in the United States and in England. They say their problem is not in development and application but rather in the urgent need for technicians and maintenance men for their installations.

In the United States, basic training for technicians and mechanics is well established. The same could be true elsewhere. But who would set the necessary machinery in motion to accomplish this? 

June 1984: Trends in control-foreign control suppliers

A few years ago it seemed very likely that foreign control suppliers from Japan and Europe were getting into position to grab a substantial slice of the lucrative U.S. control market. Nobody was very surprised, what with the Japanese success in automotive and consumer electronics, and many of the domestic control companies were concerned at what they saw looming over the horizon.

Interestingly, with minor exceptions, this has not come about. Foreign control suppliers occupy visible positions in many product areas. There are quite a few joint ventures, and some domestic control suppliers have had products designed and sometimes manufactured for them overseas. But among the major control product categories, there is no obvious situation where a foreign supplier has gained a substantial share of market.

For the foreseeable future it appears the domestic industrial control business has successfully fended off foreign competition. The next obvious question is how well the domestic industry can do in the international marketplace.

June 1999: Women in engineering gaining slowly, but steadily

Why aren’t there more women in engineering? It might seem amazing now, but before Congress passed Title IX in 1972 requiring equal educational opportunities for men and women, many female high school students were not allowed to take auto mechanics, drafting, mechanical design, and other classes. Title IX was the first all-inclusive federal law banning discrimination based on sex in educational institutions, programs, and activities receiving federal funds.

Thanks at least partly to Title IX, "The number of women studying engineering increased dramatically after 1974. Undergraduate women, who made up less than 5% of the nation’s engineering student population in 1974, increased to over 18% in 1993," says Jill Tietjen, PE, and director of the Women in Engineering Program at the University of Colorado, Boulder (UCB). She adds the number of female engineering students shot up to 15% in 1984, though gains have been smaller since then. In the workforce, 10% of engineers are women, she says.

– 2014 edits, to fit this page, by Jordan M. Schultz, associate content manager, CFE Media.