The SAIMC turned 55 this year and to celebrate we have compiled a feature for this issue in commemoration of SAIMC through the ages. Over the last 55 years the Society has faced and overcome many challenges in its evolution from the early beginnings of ICSSA (Instrument & Control Society of Southern Africa) back in 1957 to the modern 2012 livery of the Society for Automation, Instrumentation, Measurement and Control.
Today’s SAIMC is a cosmopolitan organisation representing all the cultures that make the South African manufacturing industry the unique and exciting place it is to do business in 2012. Not only have there been huge leaps in the performance and capability of control and instrumentation technology, but now we have all the tools of the modern information age at our disposal, as well as the removal of many (but perhaps not all) of the traditional glass ceilings that served in the name of protectionism.
For SA Instrumentation and Control it was these contrasts that made this feature such an interesting project. The anecdotes from two of our octogenarian members, Ken Baker and Gunnar Strom, convey problems in the life of an instrumentation engineer in the 1950s in a way that contrasts so vividly with today’s young generation of engineers who network and quickly solve problems online using forums and various other social media tools. One can only imagine the scepticism at one of those early Technology Evenings had a visionary presenter said something like: “The day is coming when you will be able to tell your colleagues who missed the presentation that they can catch it later on YouTube.”
What is exciting about being an SAIMC member in 2012 is the groundswell of enthusiasm that permeates the organisation through the various branch committees and also through Council. Current president, Johan Maartens, is on record as saying that 2012 is a year of new beginnings for the Society. This is borne out by much that has been achieved through the changes of the last 18 months, and in particular, the realisation and acceptance that SAIMC exists to serve its members through value initiatives that encourage career development through professional registration and technical competence, and also to offer the opportunity for social interaction between colleagues and industry peers.
At Council levels this is the function of the various committees set up to implement the visions for a new brand image appropriate to a vibrant engineering society in 2012, the website that will support this image online into the future, forging the relationships abroad that will give us international credibility and revisiting the constitution to ensure that it is fit and able to steer the SAIMC through the next 55 years of its existence.
“What about an initiative to make practical industry related training more accessible to members?” This is arguably the most important question of them all, as suggested in past president John Crossland’s letter which indicates the subject was already high on the Council agenda back in 1981. It is also a top priority on the 2012 Council’s agenda with some exciting new ideas on the table, I am sure Johan will have plenty more to say on the subject in future updates from the President’s desk. In amongst all the exciting change that has taken place over 55 years, we find that the need for education and training has remained a constant. For me, this reinforces the value contained in that one inescapable lesson of any bygone era – some things change and some things stay the same.
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