Ken McLaughlin, 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 Ken McLaughlin ...

November 15, 2010

Ken McLaughlin, 35

Director, Automation Systems, 4 years

JMP Engineering Inc. 

London, Ontario, Canada

Job function: System Integration or Consulting      

Academics: Bachelor of Applied Science, Mechanical Engineering, University of Waterloo          

Achievements: I am director of operations for the Automation Group at JMP Engineering Inc.  I have led the vision and direction of this innovative group.  We help small, mid-sized and large companies, that are often un-aware of the benefits of robotics and automation, to improve competitiveness by applying off-the-shelf automation technology in new and innovative ways. 

One of my life’s passions is to educate and share information with others. I have created a blog called, which strives to educate executives about automation concepts, how to apply technology, the costs of robotics, and the risks of using robots. I strongly believe that by being open and sharing with companies that have previously been afraid to make the jump to automation, I am partnering for long-term growth with customers. People value that.

Non-work hobbies: Another of my life’s passions is the outdoors, nature and water. I’m an avid scuba diving enthusiast,  and I love to explore and see what’s underneath water surface.

For the past seven years my wife and I have supported two foster children through Compassion Canada, to help children who are less fortunate than ours. In the past year we had the privilege of visiting one of our foster children in Thailand to meet him and his family. It was a life-changing experience when you see poverty personally and come to understand the disparities and inequities in our world.

Engineering hobbies: I have enrolled in a mentoring program at WIL employment connections. WIL is a local not-for-profit organization that assists immigrant professionals in understanding Canadian culture and networking with the ultimate goal for them to find employment. I have been paired with a new Canadian who is an engineer by trade. I will be meeting with him a few times a month to help him become acclimatized to Canadian culture, help him learn about the nuances of working in Canada. I’m looking forward to the experience!

More? I love to play with anything that has an engine on it! I grew up on a farm, so I love agriculture, ATV’ing, snowmobiling, and anything outdoors. Mixing mechanical and outdoors for me is a perfect fit.

My daughter was born nearly 2 years ago. Parenthood has been a life-changing experience for me! As an engineer I work every day with cool technologies, but in becoming a parent I have discovered how truly amazing the human body is. I am astounded by what my wife’s body was able to accomplish through carrying and delivering our daughter, and it has been a truly eye-opening experience to see the human body in a new way. My priorities have changed in life.

Start in controls: Growing up on a farm, I have always had a passion for machines. I have also always loved logic.  When I was a kid in school, I would spend hours coding and developing programs. Controls engineering really allowed me to marry these two passions. I am able to develop automation systems that control machines. I love the idea that the code and logic doesn’t just move 1’s and 0’s around, but it makes something move in the real world.

Advice to someone considering engineering as a career: You really need to love what you do! The thing I really love about engineering is that it is the application of science and technology. It’s where theory and practicality meet. If this type of thing gets your juices flowing , then engineering might be a good fit for you.

On a practical level, the most rewarding piece of engineering is solving problems. Through solving problems we are able to make a real impact on people’s lives. I like to think of engineers as translators; we take pieces of information from people all around us (for example, end-users, presidents, plant floor operators), we listen to their concerns, and we speak their language and engineer solutions that solve their problems.

Return to main article: Control Engineering Leaders Under 40, class of 2010

– Compiled by Renee R. Bassett for Control Engineering.

Also read: Application Update: What’s the cost, ROI, of a robotic cell? — Thinking of robotics? Here are the metrics needed to make a smart return-on-investment decision about a robot purchase. (Control Engineering, December 2010, page 12, and online November 25, 2010.)

See for other winners and other recognition programs for all ages.