SACAC was formed in 1961 by the joint efforts of the CSIR and the professional Institutes of engineering, computers and control disciplines. The primary mission of SACAC is to promote the multi-disciplinary sciences of computation, automation and control and their application to industry in Southern Africa.
SACAC is the nominated National Member Organisation for South Africa to IFAC (International Federation of Automatic Control). IFAC has the equivalent mission to SACAC and promotes and co-ordinates symposia, workshops and conferences on a broad international front.
SACAC has a special role to play as the result of its unique combination of participants. Today SACAC comprises over 50 corporate and institutional members representative of leading corporations, tertiary educational establishments, professional institutions, research organisations and private companies involved in computation, automation and control.
SACAC facilitates the interchange and dissemination of information about leading edge technologies and their application locally and internationally. This is done through organising symposia, workshops and other regular events.
SACAC also provides a link between its members and various other national organisations, keeping them informed of any relevant developments. These include the SAIMC, the SAIEE, and the Computer Society of South Africa (CSSA).
All these activities are co-ordinated by a small executive committee with the help of the Secretariat as operated by Office Executives.
The main function of SACAC is to promote the science and practice of automation and control for the benefit and economic prosperity of the people of South Africa.
To achieve this broad aim, SACAC is involved in acquiring and disseminating information on automation and control by:
- Organising and participating in National and International Conferences, Symposia and Workshops on topics which are relevant to members.
- Maintaining a formal association with IFAC (International Federation of Automatic Control) and other selected international organisations whose purposes are similar to those of IFAC.
- Facilitating contact amongst researchers, practitioners, users and suppliers of automation technology.
- Establishing contact with relevant national and international organisations.
What do we offer members?
As the National Member Organization to the IFAC (International Federation of Automatic Control), SACAC offers its members unique opportunities to organize and host international events sponsored by IFAC, and to participate in one of 46 different technical committees covering all fields in automatic control. More specifically the benefits include:
- organizing and participation in events (conferences, symposia, workshops)
- sponsorship of eligible members to attend SACAC or IFAC events
- maintaining a formal association with IFAC
- facilitating contact amongst researchers, practitioners, users and suppliers of automation technology
- establishing and maintaining contact with relevant national and international organisations.
The organisational meeting of IFAC took place in Paris in September 1957 when its Constitution was accepted. One of IFAC’s first initiatives was to invite various countries to affiliate with IFAC by nominating a body to represent the county as a National Member Organisation (NMO). The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) was subsequently invited to become the NMO for South Africa. The invitation was passed to Dr. Otto Brune, a Principal Research Officer at the CSIR’s National Physical Research Laboratory, who was to make a recommendation to the President of CSIR.
Dr. Brune, an expert in network synthesis, decided that neither the CSIR nor any of the learned societies in existence at the time could adequately represent the activities and interest of the automatic control field in South Africa. He then invited a number of bodies, including the SAIEE and NIMech Engs to a meeting to formulate a response to the IFAC invitation. All those present agreed that a separate body consisting of all interested parties should be formed to become the IFAC NMO for South Africa. On the 29th August 1961 the South African Council for Automation and Computation (SACAC) was formed with 5 Foundation members.
O Brune and JDN van Wyk were charged with the drawing up of a Constitution for SACAC.
Their guidelines were:
- To keep the Constitution simple.
- To ensure that both research and application are catered for.
- To ensure that no industrial member use SACAC for individual propaganda or for private gain, whilst acknowledging the importance of industry involvement.
- To ensure that the activities of the Council are driven by currently active participants in the field.
To ensure that no conflict develops between bodies representing Automation and those that represent Computer Science, as was the case between IFAC and IFIP during the early days.
How did the scribes succeed in their task?
- Simplicity – only you can judge!
- Coverage of research – provision for members and business members.
- Preventing high-jacking for commercial purposes – Less voting power on Council and smaller representation on Executive Committee for Business Members.
- Currently active participants represented in management – Past Presidents are invited to serve on the Executive Committee only if they still represent a member on Council.
- Conflict between Automation and Computer Science – The inclusion of Computation in the name of SACAC makes it clear that it also caters for computer science aspects which forms an integral part of control.
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