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What Is The Facilities Management Program?

If you are still wondering whether or not you should use the facilities management program, read this article. It will be able to show you where you are wrong and perhaps help you form your own opinion. It is difficult to have an opinion about something when you do not know much about the said matter, which is why reading this will give you all the sufficient information that will help you form your own opinion which is based on facts. If you happen to have an experience with this program that you would like to share with the rest of our readers, do not hesitate to contact us, leave a comment, or write an email. We would be more than glad to get your feedback on this very important real estate matter that affects millions of house owners.

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Practices implemented by one Arizona facilities manager saved the company a quarter of a million dollars during a down economy. His research and training as a graduate student at Arizona State University provided him with knowledge and skills to make changes that would improve the company’s bottom line. Upon execution, this graduate, who had been with the same company for 18 years, met the CEO for the first time and was immediately promoted. The company also gave him the resources to continue his education at ASU.

As one of 18 graduates from the ASU Facilities Management (FM) Program, this particular facilities manager is one of many who received a promotion as a result of practices implemented while researching a graduate thesis. Working facilities managers who are enrolled in the program can take tools from the classroom and implement them in real life scenarios.

azschool2Besides providing facilities managers with tools and solutions, ASU’s FM Program has other benefits – both to seasoned and entry-level property managers. For Stephen Georgoulis, vice president of the education committee for the Greater Phoenix Chapter of the International Facility Management Association (IFMA), the master’s program raised his stature among other professionals in his field, opened doors of opportunity within the industry and made him more aware of the needs in the profession.

“We have a level playing field now,” says Georgoulis, facility manager with the City of Phoenix and graduate of the ASU FM Program. “Having a master’s degree lends a substantial amount of credibility to my name. And it has opened a tremendous number of doors for me.”

The FM Program at ASU is one of only a handful of graduate and undergraduate programs offered in the United States. Supporters of the initiative are excited about the breadth and potential of this particular program.

Inception

In 2004, the FM Program was just an idea. Founders wanted to develop a program that would support the facility management community with educational opportunities and create new knowledge in the area of facility management through research.With the help of facilities and building managers, vendors, suppliers, subject matter experts and professional university faculty, the FM Program was developed.

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“ASU and the facilities management community recognized the potential of improving the life cycle performance of the built environment and the need for formal education in this area,” said Patrick Okamura, facility manager of facilities operations at General Dynamics C4 Systems and past president of the Greater Phoenix Chapter of IFMA.“The initiative was a culmination of research, identifying a need and developing an academic initiative capable of supporting the facilities management profession.”

The 30-hour program was created under the Construction Management Graduate Program of the Del E. Web School of Construction (DEWSC) within the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment (SSEBE) by some other leaders in the industry and was executed in 2005. Although it can be difficult to start a new program at any university, the foundation for the FM Program had already been built in the Construction Management Program at ASU, making the process smoother.

Implementation

FM students are required to take 10 classes, two of which are thesis classes, to obtain their master’s degree. Classes were originally offered in the evenings and are now also offered online, making it easier for working facilities professionals (who often work 60- to 70- hour weeks) to attend. Topics covered include mechanical and electrical engineering, sustainability, communications, procurement practices, project management, facilities administration, operations and maintenance, energy management, construction methods, legal, finance, space management, contracting and leadership. As part of the curriculum, each student is required to have a research-rich thesis – an integral and unique part of the program. The thesis-based classes require students to research their facility of employment. The results of the research have been carefully aligned to meet the objectives of the program.

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“From a research aspect, the development team specifically aligned their research initiatives to consider rising attrition concerns, success planning and preparing FMs of the future to sustain the profession,” said Okamura. “FMs developed a list of needs and other related skills and knowledge that were considered significant and capable of sustaining the profession.”

Benefits to Facilities Managers

In the beginning, the program attracted seasoned professionals who were looking for a way to enhance their career. In fact, Okamura was one of the first students, entering the program in the fall of 2004. He, like many others, was already working in the field and met the required 10 or more years of experience to become a re-entry student.

In reality, many FM professionals lack formal training in facilities management – entering the profession sideways from other fields. The FM Program at ASU provides a formal process that gives structure and consistency to facilities management and for students who want a career in the maintenance, operation, renovation or decommissioning of existing facilities. The program is small with small classes, allowing for more intimate interaction between professors and students. Additionally, the size of the program makes it less intimidating for re-entry students. Professionals who enrolled in the FM Program realized they had to improve their skills and needed new tools to stay relevant in the industry. The program addresses these concerns while also helping facilities managers improve their bottom line.

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Also, graduates develop the ability to understand and recognize FM applications, concepts, and methodologies, Okamura said. They also develop the ability to integrate other relevant construction and engineering degree studies into the profession.

“We see the FM Program as an opportunity for all of the participants in the life cycle of a facility to understand the influence of one’s actions on the performance of another,” said Okamura. “SSEBE’s focus on sustainability will allow for all the professions (environmental engineers, architects, civil engineers, construction engineers, managers and facilities managers) to take an integrated approach in responding to the needs of the society and owners of buildings.”

As it has grown, the FM Program has attracted younger students who are interested in the industry. About half of the students enrolled in the program are seasoned professionals, and half have just recently received their undergraduate degree in a different field. The mixture of students is mutually beneficial.

“The younger students are more current in technology. The older students are more experienced and have more knowledge,” said Georgoulis, who was one of the seasoned professionals in the program. “They complement one another. It’s a nice marriage.”

FM Undergraduate Program

A widening age gap exists in the facilities management field, said Georgoulis, who based his thesis research on this idea. A survey of 1,200 facilities managers showed that 85 percent of those surveyed were age 45 or older. Similar numbers were reflected in the enrollment in the FM Graduate Program at ASU. Most students are between the ages of 35 and 55.

“It was obvious that if we didn’t attract new people to the profession, there was a risk of the profession becoming absorbed,” Georgoulis said. “We became concerned enough that if we didn’t create a process, a mechanism, to attract people to the profession, it was at a risk of fading into the sunset, of becoming extinct.” This is a concern recognized and shared by many in the industry.

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“With the increasing complexity of the demands faced by facility managers and the lack of a well-formulated strategy for attracting new talent to the profession, we have recognized the need to start a succession plan for the profession,” says Okamura.

In response to this concern, industry leaders started developing an undergraduate program for facilities management. The first class for the program, FM Operations, and Maintenance, was taught in 2010. The FM Business Administration class was introduced in spring of 2011. Another class, Building Energy Management, will be introduced fall of 2011. Organizers are working with DEWSC to make the program available in its entirety as soon as possible.

“DEWSC already offers a large number of classes that are of interest to future facility managers, and thus, it is perfectly positioned to offer a bachelor’s degree in facilities management,” Okamura said. “We are currently working on defining the curriculum and researching the economic feasibility of a full-fledged undergraduate degree program in facilities management.”

Organizers are reaching out to the professional community of facilities management to generate funding for the undergraduate program. To formally adopt the program at ASU, the facilities management community must support the initiative, Okamura said.