Facilities Set the Stage for Learning
Maintenance and engineering managers working for K-12 school districts and higher education institutions don't teach classes.
They don't hold office hours, and they don't coordinate after-school activities. But those facts do not minimize managers' roles in helping organizations achieve educational goals. After all, how can you teach in classrooms, mentor students in offices, and coach in gymnasiums if these spaces — and the facilities that house them — are not conducive to teaching and learning?
"We believe in our organization that we play a major role in educating students," a manager in a K-12 school district told me recently." Although we don't directly affect their day-to-day activity from a teaching standpoint, we take pride in keeping our facilities in top working order. We want them to be healthy. We want them to be safe. We want them to create a good teaching and learning environment."
I thought of this comment while talking with John Eaddy, associate director of physical plant with San Diego State University, for this month's project profile. Eaddy talked about the relationship his department has with students in implementing green building initiatives and other facilities projects.
Student organizations are assisting the department with lighting retrofits by conducting lighting surveys. Technicians return the favor by working with the university's industrial technology services group to create "smart" classrooms — spaces in which teachers can more easily control multimedia learning tools and lighting systems.
Although Eaddy and his team leave the classrooms before students and teachers arrive, their role in the education process is undeniable. As Eaddy says, students are his department's No. 1 customers, so creating the best possible learning environment is his top priority.
Chris Matt offers insights gleaned from conversations with managers who make key maintenance and engineering decisions in commercial and institutional facilities.
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