Resolutions are a tradition of good intentions that rarely make it through the first month of the year. The dreams of exercise and weight loss are usually soon clouded by a schedule that doesn’t allow for the results that are desired.

For the last fifteen years or so, I have consistently shared that one of my New Year’s Resolutions would be to catch a double-digit largemouth bass each year. My wife says that isn’t a real resolution, because I can’t control whether it happens or not, but I keep it on the list.

Training, Image by Brandon Cooper

While there are some things I cannot control, there are some things that I can. I’ve learned in the control and automation world, the more that I know, the more that I realize I don’t know. There are far more avenues of technology where expertise is not able to keep up with the demands. I know this by how many unfilled jobs there are in the automation world and how many recruiters contact me weekly.

I also know that I cannot keep my current skillset and still be able to perform at a high level a few years from now. I must constantly be in a state of learning or I will be falling behind.

What is there to learn in the automation world?

Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) Hardware, PLC Software and Programming (And the differences in the many different versions), Networking Topology for IT & OT networks, L2 Switching and Configuration, L3 Switching and Routing Configuration, Firewall Configuration, HMI/SCADA systems, Virtualization Software and Implementation, Server Hardware, Operating Systems, Distributed Control System (DCS) Administration from graphics, programming and other software configuration to hardware support, AC/DC Drive configuration and support, Robotics, AI, understanding better the processes you are controlling….you get it, the list is never-ending

Shoot then aim, or aim then shoot?

You can randomly pick a topic and learn about it or you can be methodical about what you choose to learn about. Ask yourself a few questions to get your mind rolling:

  • Based on the current automation install base at my facility, what is the most important for me to get up to speed on?
  • Where is our facility headed in terms of upgrades in the next few years that I will need to support? What kind of skillsets do I need to be able to provide my team in the absence of others that I do not currently have?
  • If I would like to move into a role in a higher position, what skillsets do I need to obtain that will help me be successful in that role?


Part of life is becoming better at everything that we do from how well we eat, exercise, learn, grow, help others or becoming the best we are capable of with what we are given.

Setting goals for myself this year to learn, test and grow in my field of expertise will help me perform efficiently at my job, improve the performance of my facility and make me a capable for the next chapter in my professional life.

As for the personal goals, I’ve got some important ones there too, like spending quality time that those I care about will never forget. My best to you in your resolutions and goals this year.

Written by Brandon Cooper
Senior Controls Engineer and Freelance Writer

Have a question? Join our community of pros to take part in the discussion! You'll also find all of our automation courses at

Sponsor and Advertise: Get your product or service in front of our 75K followers while also supporting independent automation journalism by sponsoring or advertising with us! Learn more in our Media Guide here, or contact us using this form.

Brandon Cooper


  1. You are so right, being prepared for that next level is paramount. As fast as technology is moving today it is nearly impossible to keep up with without a plan.

  2. I have to agree – it’s natural to think that at some point you can stop learning, but what actually happens when you do is that you start losing ground – technology and efficient ways to use and apply it never stops evolving, so I find it best to assume I need to continuously educate myself to keep my skills up to date 😉


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here