Mentoring automation and controls professionals by sharing advice, experiences

Career Updates aim to mentor automation and controls professionals. What do you need to help your engineering-related career? Respond here.

By Eric J. Silverman December 6, 2023
Eric J. Silverman, PE, PMP, CDT, is vice president, senior automation engineer, CDM Smith, and a Control Engineering Editorial Advisory Board member. Courtesy: CDM Smith

 

Learning Objectives

  • Understand some automation engineering career development challenges.
  • See examples of how mentoring helps others succeed in automation, controls and instrumentation.
  • Share how you began in automation, controls and instrumentation.

Automation engineering career development insights

  • Automation engineering career development challenges extend beyond getting a job, though getting an automation job suited to your interests helps.

  • Mentoring can help others succeed in automation, controls and instrumentation.

  • Control Engineering’s Career Update page wants to know how you began in automation, controls and instrumentation and what help you need with career development?


More engineers are needed in automation and control engineering careers, and those that choose it, want the “know how” to be successful. To help, Control Engineering “Career Update” intends to mentor those starting out or seeking guidance in their careers. We seek your input!

I remember graduating college in June 1993 with my Electrical Engineering degree in hand and thinking to myself, what next? At the time the economy was creeping out of a recession, and jobs were not guaranteed even with an Electrical Engineering degree. My classmates and I were apprehensive, and we were all thinking of a fallback plan in case we could not land a job in our field. My plan was to attend bartending school and get my certificate so I had some way to pay the bills in case I could not find a job right away. Mixing drinks was not what I envisioned, but I knew this would only be a temporary delay.

An automation engineering challenge: Career development

After a couple of months of fierce job hunting, I landed my first job with a systems integrator that would allow me to continue to build on my co-op experiences in a field that was not even known to me when I entered college. When I started at this job, I remember a range of emotions and feelings from the last few months, I reflected on the job hunting challenges and uncertainty that my classmates and I faced when graduating all while starting my intense growth both professionally and technically in the “real world.” I knew that there were many others feeling similar to me, and I also knew I was starting in a field that many stumbled upon without knowledge of when starting college four years earlier. I wanted to try and share these thoughts and experiences with my new community and was fortunate enough to land a regular column about being a young engineer, where I shared the struggles, triumphs and general experiences of a new college graduate in the early 1990s.

Mentoring helps others succeed in automation, controls, instrumentation

Fast forward about 30 years later, and I am honored to be part of the Editorial Advisory Board for Control Engineering magazine with an opportunity to share my wisdom and experiences in this great field we all work in that is ever evolving with technological advances and the times. Over the past 30 years, I have been fortunate to have worked for two great companies. One was that systems integrator, S-L Controls in Annapolis, Maryland, for five years and then for the past 25 with CDM Smith in Boston. Both firms provided me tremendous opportunities for growth, and I currently manage a team of automation professionals that design and implement control systems for a variety of industries and help advance our standards. (Click the author link in the online version of this to learn more.) Though no longer that 20-something just starting out, I feel as empathetic to challenges (similar and new) that new grads face, when compared to my classmates of 93.

Eric J. Silverman, PE, PMP, CDT, is vice president, senior automation engineer, CDM Smith, and a Control Engineering Editorial Advisory Board member. Courtesy: CDM Smith

Eric J. Silverman, PE, PMP, CDT, is vice president, senior automation engineer, CDM Smith, and a Control Engineering Editorial Advisory Board member. Courtesy: CDM Smith

How did you begin in automation, control, instrumentation? How can we help?

I hope we share experiences on the industry and life of a new professional in the automation/controls space with the young and the young at heart, and I can provide perspectives as an automation engineer and manager. To help shape future content, I’d like to hear your stories about how you were first exposed and/or started your career in the controls space. Please send input to me at SilvermanEJ@cdmsmith.com, along with any questions or ideas for future topics for this space.

Eric J. Silverman, PE, PMP, CDT, is vice president, senior automation engineer, CDM Smith, and a Control Engineering Editorial Advisory Board member. Edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media and Technology, mhoske@cfemedia.com.

CONSIDER THIS

How can we help with your automation, instrumentation and controls career?

Tell Eric at SilvermanEJ@cdmsmith.com.

ONLINE

www.controleng.com/system-integration/workforce-development

Search “Career Update” at www.controleng.com for other advice.

www.cdmsmith.com


Author Bio: Eric J. Silverman, PE, PMP, CDT, vice president, senior automation engineer, CDM Smith, Boston, is a senior automation and instrumentation and controls (I&C) engineer with experience since 1996. Project experience includes system integration, including project management, networking and communications, control system design and specification, programming, system implementation, cost estimation and startup. Silverman is a certified PMI project manager and CSI Construction Document Technician. In his current role, he manages the automation group for CDM Smith’s North region and helps advance the Automation discipline within CDM Smith through continuous improvement of standards and guidelines as well as mentoring the next generation of automation/I&C engineers, specialists and leaders. Over his career, Silverman has presented and published with various industry publications and organizations locally and nationally. He joined Control Engineering’s Editorial Advisory Board in October 2023.