Fray International Sustainability Award

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Dr. R. Russell Rhinehart

Russell_RhinehartDr. R. Russell Rhinehart's career activities have been aimed at developing sustainable technology and programs. Russ worked for 13 years in industry prior to starting his 27-year academic career, and the dual experience has shaped his view of what is sustainable.

The control approach he has been exploring and promoting is based on simple first-principles models. Russ says, "To be sustainable in an industrial environment, to be continually supported, used over a long period, it must be simple. Further, the method needs to add value, and many industry folks see that using mechanistic models preserve process understanding, providing a significant advantage over traditional empirical linear models. Preserving process knowledge benefits trouble shooting and design, providing an additional reason to sustain the model-based controllers."

Sustainability also relates to the benefit of using a particular tool. The use of mechanistic models (over linear models) provides nonlinear compensation and good control over a wide range. So, his vision ties in to several values simplicity, functionality, and preservation of knowledge to enhance other human endeavors.

Additionally, his work has been exploring approaches to automate supervisory decisions and action (namely SPC rules to temper control action, and automated identification of steady-state and transient state), which remove the decision from arbitrary human interpretation with infrequent attention, to data-based decisions with the continual "eye" of the process computer.

Once understood, sustainability is a philosophy that should influence many things. In engineering education, for example, a sustainable model requires strong grounding of students in industrial practice situations (such as pilot-scale experiments, not just theoretical mathematical analysis). Russ' assignments require students to deal with complexity (he does not assign not simple to grade exercises), and he personally coaches students for improved performance (not grading by teaching assistants). At the end, students are strong in the fundamental understanding, and they can successfully implement it within both the technical and human context of application complexity.

Dr. Rhinehart served as Editor-in-Chief of ISA Transactions for 14 years, substantially increased the size and impact of the journal, but kept its theory and practice balance, which is required for relevance, for bridging the academic-industry gap, for rapid development of practicable techniques. He says, "It is not sustainable to have academe following academic interest, and wander off from industry needs. We need to integrate industry and academe so that academic research and creativity is grounded in societal needs, so that education is teaching the relevant topics to those entering the practice, and so that academic innovations can be transferred to industrial practice." To help shape the journal he ensured that industrial values are included in the review of manuscripts for publication. The journal tripled in size, and impact factor, and moved from a quarterly to bimonthly publication. He recruited like-minded people to be associate editors, who have now grown to continue the legacy.

Segregation of teachers (and students) from practitioners is not a sustainable model for developing either human resources or technology. In a similar fashion, Russ created the Tutorial Session model and the Control Engineering Practice award to help integrate industry and academe within the American Control Conference and the American Automatic Control Council (AACC). Now as AACC President, he continues to champion sustainable models for budgeting, programming, and people for assignments.

Prof. Russell Rhinehart, Receiving the Fray International Sustainability Award from Dr. Florian Kongoli at FLOGEN SIPS 2013

Press Releases
1)University of Oklahoma:
OSU Professor Receives International Sustainability Award[WEB];
OSU Professor Receives International Sustainability Award[PDF]

2)Chemical Engineering:
Rhinehart Receives the 2013 Fray International Sustainability Award[WEB];
Rhinehart Receives the Fray International Sustainability Award[PDF]