ISA Establishes Dick Morley Innovation Scholarship

Nov. 8, 2017
The International Society of Automation (ISA) creates a named scholarship fund in honor of Dick Morley, the initial designer of the first programmable logic controller.
The International Society of Automation (ISA) creates the Richard E. “Dick” Morley Innovation Scholarship in honor of Dick Morley, a longtime ISA supporter, founder of Modicon (now part of Schneider Electric) and the initial designer of the first programmable logic controller (PLC)—a primary component in modern-day automation, according to ISA. The scholarship will be funded by ISA with a $50,000 endowment. ISA also pledges to match the next $50,000 of donations. Morley, 84, passed away on October 17.

Morley was an engineer, inventor, entrepreneur, consultant and author who contributed significantly to a wide range of revolutionary, high-technology advancements over more than four decades. An internationally recognized expert in computer design, artificial intelligence, automation and factories of the future, Morley reportedly held more than 20 US and foreign patents.

“Dick Morley wasn’t just the inventor of modern-day automation—he was also a mentor and a friend to many of our members and leaders around the world,” says ISA President Steve Pflantz. “He was a one-of-a-kind person, someone you could never forget. His humor and wit, along with his incredibly creative way of looking at life, made him a force for good in our industry, our society, and the world. He will be missed.”

Morley is best known for developing the programmable logic controller (PLC), a breakthrough in the growth and advancement in industrial automation, according to ISA. His initial PLC—which he designed for continuous processing applications—was demonstrated at GM in 1969 as Bedford Associates Modicon 084 solid-state sequential logic solver.

Morley founded numerous technology companies. His breakthroughs in research and development reportedly fueled ongoing discoveries and innovations, according to ISA.  For many years, Morley hosted the annual “Geek Pride Day” festival in New Hampshire, where he lived with his late wife, Shirley. Morley and his wife had three biological children and 27 foster children.

“We know that one of the most important parts of Morley’s life was his work with young people,” says Pflantz. “He was passionate about giving kids a chance to innovate, to redefine their lives, and to make a difference in the world. We intend to make sure that this scholarship fund continues that legacy in some small way.”

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