FCI Co-founders, Robert Deane and Malcolm McQueen along with Magnetrol’s Judy Stevenson were inducted into the Measurement, Control and Automation Hall of Fame during the MCAA Industry Forum last month in Atlanta.
Peter Martin, Chairman of MCAA and Vice President of Strategic Ventures at Schneider Electric introduced the honorees. Martin reminded the audience that 30-40 years ago our industry was focused on measurement and control instrumentation. Then the digital computer shifted the focus from measurement and control to the automation platform so that while there was still instrumentation, a lot of people were getting recognized for their work in automation based on the platform. However, he noted value doesn’t come from the platform: measurement and control instrumentation improve functionality in plants that drive profitability and, in fact, no one drives profitability more than our industry. Two years ago, the MCAA Board decided to recognize
leaders in our industry that drive the value for our clients.
The Hall of Fame recognizes individuals whose body of work has contributed to the instrumentation and control industry in a significant and memorable way either through technical achievements, business accomplishments or industry leadership. Robert Deane, Malcolm McQueen and Judy Stevenson (posthumous) now join Gordon Arnold of Sierra Monitor, Wade Mattar of Schneider Electric/Foxboro and Dick Morley, all inducted in 2016.
Raised in Massachusetts, Bob Deane graduated from the Allen School of Aeronautics in Rhode Island and moved to California in 1954. There he worked in the aerospace and defense industries. Together with Malcolm (Mac) McQueen he founded Fluid Components International in 1964. He is the holder of three patents including the original thermal flow switch patent which helped launch FCI as a business. He also holds patents covering improvements to the thermal switch and a liquid-to-gas phase change detector. In the 1970’s FCI developed an air-to-gas flowmeter based on thermal dispersion technology. The company started a nuclear division in 1978 to deliver level, flow and temperature measurement to the nuclear power industry. He retired from FCI in 1995 but continues to work closely with the FCI engineers on specialized projects such as flow instrument applications and proprietary sensor packaging designs.
Malcolm ‘Mac’ McQueen received his Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). His early career was spent as a design engineer in the aerospace industry. It was then that he met Bob Deane who was working as an instrument sales representative. McQueen holds over 19 US and international patents involving flow applications. FCI has received the Control Global magazine Reader’s Choice award for thermal flowmeters and flow switches for the past 25 consecutive years. Although he retired in 1995, he has served as FCI Chairman Emeritus since 2000. Always an active philanthropist, he supported the YMCA and Boys and Girls Club. He was named Man of the Year by the San Marcos, California Chamber of Commerce and created a park behind the FCI plant for community events. In 2014 he established the Malcolm Murdoch McQueen Scholarship Fund for students pursuing a career in instrument engineering.
Mac McQueen accepted the honor on behalf of himself and his partner, Bob Deane who was unable to travel to the meeting. In his acceptance he noted that it was the confluence of a solid technology and trusting partnership that has made FCI a successful organization for the past 53 years. He called thermal dispersion mass flow measurement “seductively simple yet beguilingly complex”. He was proud to note the children (including his son, Dan McQueen, current President of FCI) have successfully taken over ownership and management of the company for over 20 years, and that the third generation is beginning to show interest. According to McQueen, FCI will continue to be a family owned operation for the foreseeable future.
Judy Stevenson was inducted into the Hall of Fame posthumously. A family rule of “you must play the piano” led to her enrollment in piano lessons at North Central College. Her musical career was brilliant and she devoted herself to the clarinet, cello, chorus, band and orchestra while attending Naperville Community High School and continuing to North Central College where she studied voice and piano. She sang for two years with the Robert Shaw Chorale and performed with the Chicago Lyric Opera. But this was not the life-direction Judy Stevenson took. In 1964 she joined Magnetrol (then Schaub Engineering Company) as a part-time bookkeeper. In her first year of employment, she rose to accounting supervisor, then to accounting manager a year later. In 1967 she was elected treasurer and administrative vice president. She became president of the company in 1975 and in 1978–14 years after beginning in a part-time clerical position–Judy bought the company. Under her leadership, Magnetrol prospered due to an aggressive commitment to research and development, new products, new technologies, training and progressive and creative thinking. Today Magnetrol is a multi-million dollar company with over 800 associates in offices and manufacturing facilities worldwide. The company also attributes its success to its people-oriented culture and strong emphasis on the family–a reflection on Judy’s own beliefs. Judy established and endowed 11 college scholarships, six of which are awarded annually to the children of Magnetrol associates. She supported numerous local community programs and charities. Judy died at the age of 72 in 2010.
Craig Carroll, Vice President Sales - Americas for Magnetrol International, accepted the award on Ms. Stevenson’s behalf. He indicated that Judy’s story and the story of Magnetrol is one of passion, drive, commitment and determination. Judy sought and assumed leadership for what she could do for others. A well known philanthropist, there are many stories of how she applied personal attention to the people within her organization. She created a culture within the Magnetrol family of companies of ‘People come first’. She truly believed that people were the greatest asset of her organization.
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