Farewell, Rockwell Automation

Friday was my last day as an employee of Rockwell Automation.  Tomorrow I start the second half of my career at a new company.  Today, I want to spend a few minutes reflecting on the last 15 years and say thanks to all of my friends and coworkers.

My career and I grew up at Rockwell.  I started there in March 1994 when I was 24.  I thought I had worked on big software projects before… 50,000 lines of code!  I was a C++ and OO guru, with most of my experience on the client/UI side of software architecture and construction.

We were working on the most important product in recent Rockwell history… the Logix controller (then called the Automation Controller) and the software to program it, RSLogix 5000 (then known as ACE, then Tempest, before shipping).  When it shipped in 1997, v2.51, it revolutionized discrete automation control.  It had integrated motion control and used tags with meaningful names instead of cryptic addresses.

I was there while we shipped multiple releases, building RSLogix 5000 and the controller into a powerful process automation controller as well.   Function Block Diagrams, Sequential Function Charts, Phase Manager, and finally, Add-On Instructions.  Two million lines of code and counting.  We set new thresholds of usability, built  understanding of users in new markets and new domains.

I received training in team leadership, requirements, user interface design, user research, project management, and software development from some of the most accomplished and amazing people in the world such as Jerry Weinberg, Tom DeMarco, Karen Holtzblaat and Hugh Beyer, Joann Hackos, and  many more.

I spent two years in sales, which was a great experience.  I learned how our business really works, from pursuing and proposing projects to working with distributors to closing and losing deals.  The pace nearly killed me; I could never calibrate on how much was enough.

Then, my friends helped create the Usability Manager position that I’ve been in for the last 2 1/2 years.  We transformed the look and feel of the FactoryTalk suite.  We inspired many people to expect more from the use and aesthetics of engineering and IS tools.  We developed new products like FactoryTalk Historian and ViewPoint.  We integrated new acquisitions like DataSweep, Pavilion, and Incuity.  We deployed Scrum and other new methods to hundreds of developers.  We built a team of user experience specialists, built tools and promoted methods for good design and evaluation, and improved many products across the organization.

Of course, there were bad times as well.  Economic downturns caused retrenchment and loss of will to pursue new things and sustain UX efforts.  But the good times far outweigh those periods.  And we accomplished so much.  I am very proud.

Thanks to everyone I’ve worked with over the years, in development, in product management, in commercial engineering, in sales, in management, at our customers, at our distributors, in human resources, in commercial marketing, and everywhere else across the organization.

Thanks to Shosh, Rick, David, Scott, Jerry, Mike, Aundrea, Amit, Amar, Diane, Chris, Matt, Missy, Doug, Tone, Adam, Gigi, Andy, Alan, Elaine, Erica, Mark, Pat, Perscilla, Lee, Hee Jung, Bruce, Gordon, Terrie, Karen, John, Dave, Ron, Kevin, Randy, James, Keith, Steve, and so many more.  Many of you are my friends for life.  All of you are in my head and heart.  We did amazing things.  And we will continue to do so.


Logo by Jenn Morris-jemorris.com

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2 Responses to Farewell, Rockwell Automation

  1. Kevin Tambascio says:


    Wow, I didn’t realize you were at RA for so long, with so many roles. You’re contributions will be sorely missed. Best of luck on your new venture!


  2. Dave Ruske says:

    Really sorry to hear about your departure RA, Jim. Hopefully the UI efforts you initiated will take root and continue to grow; usability cannot be considered something that’s just “nice to have, if we have the time.”

    Best wishes for the future!

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