Okay, you’re up to speed with us on what an Automation Software Engineer is, or you’ve already joined the discussion on Slack, but perhaps you’re still left wondering…What exactly is going on here at SASE? Why does this society exist and what function does it serve? I see value in clarifying this and setting intentions as a new and growing community.

Intentional community

I chose the term “society” with good reason. It’s a broader, more inclusive, and people-oriented term compared to “institutes” or “professional organizations” that can feel faceless or hierarchical. In societies, there is a level of knowledge or understanding that gives people association and engagement with one another as peers. SASE represents the intersection of two converging fields — industrial automation and software engineering — and we're united as people first and foremost, rather than the emphasis being on the technology itself.

Calling all ASEs

The ‘E’ is for Engineers, not Engineering. Again, we’re emphasizing the people over the discipline. This group is for fellow geeks. The only membership criteria is that you care about this topic. Think ComicCon or model train enthusiasts — we’re excited to nerd out with people who share our interests.

Everyone is welcome here, and at the same time, if you’re not fascinated by automation software engineering, it’s probably not for you. Beyond speaking the same (coding) languages, we’re a collection of creatives, innovators, and rebels. There is an inherent rejection of the status quo in which the two fields are seen as separate.

Strength in numbers

I started SASE because for a long time, I felt alone in the overlap of the venn diagram. Over the years I’ve discovered there are many others like us out there. But I didn’t see space to collect and connect with these individuals. These people exist, so let’s bring them together. I see a lot of power in that.

Together, we support each other in the difficult work of being on the early edge of this movement. There is kinship and mutual learning — you’re not alone in having these ideas. I’ve noticed a tendency for vendor silos to exist among user groups, so SASE is taking an explicit, vendor-agnostic position. What we’re doing here is not something that would come from a vendor. To us, it’s more about the big idea than the color of the plastic.

We’re also breaking the silence. Vendors often act as gatekeepers, behaving as though they want to avoid admitting mistakes, airing their dirty laundry, or sharing their techniques. Many of us do work in proprietary areas, but there is value in open source and knowledge sharing. Each one of us has the potential to speak out and bring others along.

Not your boss’s professional organization

Professional organizations are a dime a dozen. SASE is different. It’s not a thinly veiled “look at us”; it’s about the mutual benefit of the network. Members receive value by connecting with fellow members.

One might argue that this conversation could fit within an existing organization, but my take is that it wouldn’t be a priority for anybody there. The current ecosystems are so big, with so many interests, that ASE would end up taking a back seat (like all the way in the back). SASE is solely focused on this one topic, and it’s not affiliated with a specific industry. Our shared drive is inherently anti-establishment in that this is a protected space — separate from other automation organizations in the interest of true revolutionary thinking.

Being technically driven, what I’ve seen so far is people working on real problems together rather than socializing or pitching. For that reason, it has been natural for exchanges to fall within our community guidelines.

// TODO:

Create 501c3? — While our initial launch was met with much enthusiasm and hundreds of sign-ups, SASE is still in its infancy. Loupe is the incubator of this baby for now, but eventually it will make sense for it to grow up as an independent entity, maybe a 501c3.

Collect Dues — For now, we simply ask members to pay their dues with time, energy, and participation. The value of the network is in its size, so we want to avoid putting up barriers. In the future, we might explore other sources of funding, possibly through events or memberships.

Host Events — On that note, if the point of this group is connecting like-minded individuals, we can enrich our relationships and sense of community by coming together in real time. In the near term, that could be in the form of smaller virtual roundtables or ad-hoc in-person gatherings. Further out, we’d love to host a global face-to-face event to harness the power of the whole society.

Launch Job Board — Other possibilities are already being illuminated as well, like a job board — people are asking for it, and we love the idea. This is the kind of feature we hope to roll out in the future.

Influence — Most promising is the potential for influence. With a critical mass of users, this group could start to turn heads and get vendors to pay attention. When we set expectations for the industries we serve, others will listen.

Let’s build something together

Ultimately what we’re trying to do here with SASE is build something together. That’s twofold — we want the society to be a product of the community’s design, and we want to literally make things with our combined expertise. We have the potential to ship new open-source software, create new standards, or deliver technical projects together. That’s what we see on the horizon, and that’s why we’re excited you’re here to join forces..

SASE's 5-point plan for world domination