December 2018 From the IFAC President

Proposed upcoming changes in IFAC!

Dear IFAC Friends and Colleagues,


Change. Some find it scary. Others necessary.
And in IFAC we obviously believe that a rapidly
changing environment is reason enough to also
adjust how our old friend IFAC should operate.


The  Federation  is  over  60  years  old  and  was
founded in times when the Iron Curtain was di-
viding  the  world  into  two  parts.  All?  Well  not
entirely!  One  small  community  of  indomitable
control  engineers  held  out,  decided  to  stand
together founding the Federation of Automatic
Control. But let me not lecture you about IFAC
history (even by using Asterix quotes). The point
is that while some grown traditions, operations
and  values  are  most  essential  to  IFAC,  other
structural  circumstances  need  to  be  updated
from time to time. Just imagine that the original
constitution was written in a time where every
correspondence had to be written by letter, of-
ficially translated and sent around the globe by
horse (ok, the last one is an exaggeration).


These days, the changes have accelerated, not
only  concerning  the  structural  environment,
but  also  with  respect  to  our  field.  Systems
engineering, automation and control are more
timely,  more  relevant  and  more  needed  than
ever. For IFAC, this means change. IFAC needs
to once more rethink its executive structure, its
meeting cycle and agility to adapt to the chal-
lenges and possibilities of the future. This was
one  important  theme  during  the  Council  and
Related Meetings in Florianópolis, Brazil, early
September 2018.


One outcome of the discussions in Council, as
already hinted towards, is the executive struc-
ture. After long time planning, discussion and
revisions, we presented a new executive struc-
ture for IFAC to Council, which is designed to
be better suited to IFACs needs and goals and
to make IFAC more efficient. The key elements
of the new structure are a flat hierarchy, more
flexibility with an additional Vice-President and
Board, and an emphasis on the most important
topics  within  IFAC.  Furthermore,  to  increase
the agility of IFAC, an accelerated meetings cy-
cle was implemented in the last year, where an
additional  Fall  Officers  Meeting  complements
the  Spring  Officers  Meeting  and  the  annual
Council and Related Meetings.


Other most timely discussions included meas-
ures  to  decrease  registration  fees  for  IFAC
events, an IFAC Conference App to improve the
experience of our conference participants, but
also  to  introduce  a  more  sustainable  solution
with respect to natural resources, the initiation
of an inclusion and diversity strategy for IFAC
and many more ideas. The discussions in the
IFAC Council were very forward and goal ori-
ented and I want to compliment and thank the
Council Members very much.


For  many  of  the  above-mentioned  items  that
were  initiated  in  Florianópolis,  the  hard  work
has just started. There are a lot of issues and
yet  open  questions  that  need  careful  consid-
eration, but I will keep you posted!


Wishing you all a merry holiday season and all
the  best  for  a  healthy,  happy  and  successful
year 2019.


With warm regards from cold Stuttgart,
Frank Allgöwer

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