Facilities management major grows, wins awards


    By Rebecca Kellogg

    The facilities management program at BYU is becoming steadily more popular as students sign up to participate in this multifaceted, marketable major.

    BYU”s facilities management program has increased almost ten fold over the past ten years, according to the overview of facilities management, prepared by David Case, 23, a senior from Phoenix, Ariz., majoring in facilities management. Current enrollment is approximately 100 students, and about 25 students graduate from the major each year.

    “People have a hard time defining just what FM (facilities management) is,” said Alyssa Peterson, 24, a junior from Lousiville, Ky., majoring in facilities management. “My best professional-sounding explanation has been that we manage long-term physical assets.”

    According to the facilities management program overview, “in 1972 BYU became one of the first schools in the nation to offer a Bachelor of Science degree in what was then called Physical Plant Administration. The name was later changed to better reflect the course content of the major.”

    BYU”s facilities management program has drawn international recognition; BYU”s chapter of the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) received the “IFMA Student Chapter of the Year” award for the third time in five years in October at IFMA”s annual World Workplace convention in Toronto.

    Also at the convention, BYU IFMA students Brandon Barzee, Brandon Wilkinson and David Case were awarded scholarships for outstanding academics, leadership and involvement.

    “I was awarded a $1,000 scholarship along with an all-expense paid trip to Toronto where I received the award during the annual World Workplace Convention of the International Facility Management Association (IFMA),” Case said. “It was a great opportunity for myself as well as BYU to be recognized by thousands of professionals at the convention.”

    Case said he enjoys his chosen field.

    “It is an excellent major that gives students a good balance of managerial and technical skills which are very marketable,” he said. “The average starting salary of facilities management students is over $46,000 dollars, which ranks 6th overall at Brigham Young University. Our graduates move quickly into management positions. Brigham Young University has long been recognized as a leader in Facilities Management Education.”

    While reasons for choosing the major differ, Peterson said she chose the major because of its marketability and the possibility it will give her to work at a job she enjoys.

    “I was looking for a broad-based degree that had something to do with interior design and real estate,” Peterson said. “These two are right up FM”s alley. Add in that we also study construction, organizational behavior, finance, marketing, management, architecture, and landscape design, and it was apparent that with this major I would graduate with not only a job, but a practical set of skills that without a doubt would make me employable.”

    The skills Peterson acquires through her study in facilities management will help prepare her to work in a variety of areas.

    “My dream job would be to manage the physical facilities for a zoo,” she said. “The unique problems associated with education of the public, care of the animals and creating an attractive environment sound like something I dreamed up as a kid.”

    Peterson said her second choice would be managing the facilities of a college campus.

    Anne Moser, 19, a senior majoring in facilities management from Scottsdale, Ariz. said after she graduates, she would like to work for a consulting firm in facilities management.

    Inside the major, students take courses in a wide range of areas.

    “You”re never bored,” Peterson said. “You will, however, need to be willing to get your hands dirty, whether that”s framing a home or fighting for an ”A” in Finance.”

    Others agree.

    “Facilities management is a great ”go anywhere, do anything” degree,” said Kevin Moulton, 22, a senior from Centerville majoring in facilities management. “No matter how it may sound, however, this is not an easy major. The business, facilities and construction management classes required for it are very competitive. Many of our graduates take 4 1/2 to 5 years to complete all the requirements. The benefits are well worth it, though.”

    As part of the major, students are required to complete two internships.

    “I worked with a team to develop the concept drawings for a new building for the Kids on the Move center in Orem,” said Peterson. “The center does specialized early intervention (preschool or close to it) for children with disabilities. I was proud to be involved.”

    For one of Moser”s internships, she worked for five months in the facilities services department at the Olympic village.

    “It was a great once-in-a-lifetime experience,” she said.

    Current facilities management students have some advice for those considering their major.

    “Try to talk to someone in the major and see if it really suits you,” Moser said. “Also, try a couple classes out. It wouldn”t hurt, and they would be useful in the future whether you decide to continue with the major or not.”

    A variety of interests and abilities help students be successful in the major.

    “People skills are crucial – you must be able to communicate well,” said Case. “It also requires good managerial and leadership skills. Much of what we do is centered around technology, so computer skills are also very helpful.”

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