President's Corner President's Corner

As most readers of this column will know, the 1997 American Control Conference (ACC'97) will be held in Albuquerque, New Mexico during the first week in June. A special effort has been made to make the ACC more interesting and more valuable to control engineers in industry. I strongly encourage such engineers to attend ACC'97, and to provide feedback on their experiences for improvement for ACC'98. Conference information, including the complete program, is available on the web via the AACC homepage, Joe Qin, the ACC'97 Vice Chair for Industry and Applications, can be contacted for further information. His email address is For years, many engineers in industry have believed that there is little of interest to them at ACC. Try us this year! Things have changed.

The Proceedings of ACC'97 will be available on a CD-ROM. The move to CD-ROMs by the control conferences comes just-in-time for me. Nearly 40 years of conference proceedings fill my office bookshelves and are overflowing onto tops of file cabinets and tables. I haven't been able to discard them. Every so often a student will want to consult some early conference paper. Besides, there are lots of memories, and much history, in these volumes. For example, let's look back twenty years to the 1977 Joint Automatic Control Conference (the JACC was the original version of what has evolved into the ACC). Jim Meditch was the General Chair, and George Saridis the Program Chair. Plenary sessions included Nick Nichols on control of rigid bodies in space and Ya. Z. Tsypkin on optimization under uncertainty. There were theme sessions on microprocessors, geophysical data processing, robotics, reliability, nuclear power plant control, and transportation. (Lots of industrial authors were participating -- what happened?) Applications in manufacturing, power systems, bioengineering, process control, turbofan engines, adaptive optics, distillation columns and "Harvesting and Processing of the Forestry Resource" were featured. New results in control theory appeared in sessions on geometric methods, identification, stability, optimal and stochastic control, adaptive and nonlinear systems, singular perturbations, large scale systems and computational methods. The 1977 JACC, like the just completed IFAC'96, was held in San Francisco. Meditch and Saridis noted, in their "Welcome", that "for the first time in its history, the (JACC) is headquartered in the cosmopolitan environment of one of the most sophisticated conference hotels on the West Coast, at the focus of an area of high technology and advanced automation." How could I possibly consign such material to the shredder?

Speaking of history, John Zaborszky is chairing a committee on the history of the AACC. John is the father of the AACC as we know it today. John's committee is mining the vast AACC archives (paper archives, unfortunately, not CD-ROMs!) to identify and document key moments in our past. A professional organization, such as the AACC, must promote the good health and welfare of its professional field. Understanding where we are now requires knowing where we have been, and how we got here. We eagerly await the report of the AACC History Committee.

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