Education and Training Needs for High-Tech Facility Operators
Exploring Education and Training Needs for High-Tech Facility Operators
Dear high-tech facilities expert,
Thank you for your time to completing the following survey on high-tech facility operations education and training needs. In this survey, we define high-tech facilities as laboratories, data centers, cleanrooms, hospitals, and related facilities. Your input will help us determine the need for and scope of targeted education and training for high-tech facility operators. For this survey, we are using the following definition: a "building operator, engineer, or technician" maintains and operates mechanical building systems (including HVAC, lighting, electrical, and sometimes fire/life/safety, vacuum systems, wetlabs, and others). We recognize that there are variations to this general job description and that there may be different "titles" used by different organizations.
Background: The International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories (I2SL), and Laney College’s National Science Foundation-funded Building Efficiency for a Sustainable Tomorrow (BEST) Center are collaborating to identify education and training needs and strategies for operators of high-tech facilities. Through our interactions with industry stakeholders on multiple occasions, it is apparent that available education and training paths do not adequately address the increasingly complex knowledge and skills needed to operate and maintain high-tech facilities. Compared to commercial facilities, environmental health and safety liabilities and worker risks are much greater, the building energy use intensities are higher, and the building occupant needs are more volatile and complex. With many more high-tech facilities being created and their energy and sustainability performance requirements becoming more stringent, we expect an even greater shortage of qualified building technicians for high-tech facilities.
Through its co-sponsorship of Labs21, I2SL partnered with Laney College, and the R&D Council of the International Facility Managers Association (IFMA) to explore this need within the Labs21 community. Since 2009, Laney College and I2SL have chaired several O&M symposia at the Labs21 Annual Conference, doing so again at the I2SL Annual Conference in 2013. As such, the partners were able to arrive at a set of specific knowledge “gaps” for high-tech facility operators and managers not addressed by any known curriculum or organization.
At the Labs21 2012 Annual Conference, Laney and I2SL conducted a preliminary and informal survey to capture and verify opinions and statements that had been expressed at Labs21. The results clearly supported I2SL’s belief but as the number of participants was limited, a broader sampling was necessary.
This survey expands upon the preliminary survey and is being more widely distributed. I2SL and Laney College welcome the responses of senior facility managers, facility engineers, operators, and maintenance experts to validate the needs.
The survey should take about 15 minutes to complete. A formal report will be presented at the 2013 I2SL Annual Conference (formerly Labs21) being held in Minneapolis, MN, September 24-26 (see http://www.i2sl.org/conference/2013/index.html). A written report is expected to follow in 2014.
Thank you for your expertise and time! Those interested in working with us on this project should write us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Phil Wirdzek, President/Executive Director, International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories
Barbara Widhalm, PhD, Project Manager, NSF BEST Center, Laney College