UTSA facilities staff provides tours for business students in real estate management

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UTSA facilities staff member James Jinks with business students on infrastructure tour

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(Oct. 24, 2011) -- The UTSA College of Business undergraduate program in real estate finance and development began offering a facility management minor in 2010. In connection with the new program, Michael Noll, lecturer in the Department of Management, contacted the Office of Facilities with an unusual request: Would staff members give campus infrastructure tours for students in MGT 4303 Facility Management Policies and Procedures? The intent: as part of the coursework, give students a first-hand look at the design, construction, operation and maintenance of university buildings.

Since the request was made last fall, James Jinks, facilities operations superintendent, has led three student tours. This semester, students visited several buildings including the Business Building, where he explained the components of an air-handler unit and how air is conditioned and distributed throughout the building.

Other areas toured included the mechanical rooms, where students learned about the different types of elevators, life-safety systems, and required state inspections. Touring the South Thermal Energy Plant on the Main Campus, students got a close look at how the computer-controlled building automation system monitors equipment and alarms. Additionally, they saw demonstrations of adjusting building temperatures and managing equipment failures through digital control.

Students are encouraged to ask questions during the tours, and this semester they were particularly interested in the elevators. Since it is Jinks' area of responsibility, he was pleased to offer insight into how much the elevators are used, how reliable they are and how they are maintained.

"I really feel the students leave this tour with a better understanding of what is involved in the operation and maintenance of a large facility," said Jinks. "I think now they have more appreciation for the services our department provides to make sure a conducive learning environment is maintained."