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Building Automation Systems Engineers


The International Society of Automation defines automation as “the creation and application of technology to monitor and control the production and delivery of products or services.” Automation technologies are used in many sectors, such as manufacturing transportation, utilities, defense, and building and other facility operations.

The thermostat is an example of early building automation technology. Around 1620, the Dutch engineer and inventor Cornelius Drebbel created one of the first building system control devices: an egg incubator with an automatic valve that kept the incubator at a constant temperature. Many consider this incubator to be the first thermostat, and this feedback-controlled device continued to be used until the 1970s, according to the electronics firm Bosch. In 1906, an American engineer named Mark Honeywell developed the first programmable thermostat.

Other building automation milestones (and technological innovations that affected the field) include the invention of the heat regulator (around 1925); the first electronic networking of buildings (1960s); the invention of programmable logic controllers (1969), which were used in manufacturing and also used to control smart homes; the invention of direct digital control systems (1979–80), which replaced pneumatic and analog instrumentation and control systems; the development of building information modeling software (1986), which was utilized to model, capture, and assess all relevant data of a building; the development of the Building Automation Control Network (1987), a data communication protocol for building automation and control networks that was developed by the American Society of Heating Refrigerating and Airconditioning Engineers; the increasing availability of the Internet and the emergence of Wi-Fi and the Internet of Things (late 1990s); the invention of wireless control of lighting with the use of Wi-Fi, motion sensors, and networked devices (2009); and the use of artificial intelligence (including machine learning and computer vision), advanced data analytics, and other emerging technologies (2010–present), which have improved the performance of building automation systems. The rapidly changing nature of building automation systems, fueled by advances in both computer hardware and software, suggests that the need for qualified engineers and technicians will only increase as the field grows.

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