Couch To Campus: Facilities In Action

Welcome to Facilities! Olin College has a Facilities team of roughly 20 people that work on a range of tasks including custodial, maintenance, and projects. You will see our custodial staff in the dorms and main buildings daily, and you may see our maintenance team if there is an issue with your room or a space on campus. The Facilities team also works with students on projects.   

The goal when interacting with students, whether individually or in groups, is to educate and inform, while working together to reach a common goal. The educational part should include cost analysis, if applicable, as well as ensuring that code compliance is maintained. The priority is always first and foremost the safety of everyone involved. A lot of times students are eager to get an idea off the ground quickly, but Facilities might have to step in and help advise the project to ensure everyone is safe during and after project completion. The most important expectation is that everyone stays safe, and everyone goes home in one piece. If everyone works together and there is frequent communication, projects have a much higher likelihood of being successful and safe. 

For example, Facilities has worked with students on implementing safety protocols for the student Forge Club, Fire Arts Club, and Rocketry Club. Facilities also has worked with students on projects in the dorms such as painting murals and projects in the main campus buildings such as hanging artwork. The team also gives tours of the central plant to interested students and classes that are diving into engineering systems in action! 

A large piece of mechanical equipment.

We have some very large pieces of mechanical equipment!

Additionally, Facilities hires students year-round through the Eco-Rep program and the Energy and Sustainability Intern program. The Eco-Reps are students employed during the school year that work on creating and implementing energy and sustainability projects in conjunction with the Sustainability Steering Committee. The Energy and Sustainability Intern position works on similar projects but over the course of 10 weeks over the summer. Students working in these positions have worked on projects ranging from campus renewable energy, Earth Month events, researching and drafting a sample Zero Waste plan and a sustainable purchasing plan with campus stakeholders, a sustainability benchmarking report (AASHE STARS), a reusable mug informational campaign in the dining hall, composting on campus, working with the Olin Gear store with a focus on sustainable clothing options, and much more!  

Olin's AASHE STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System) bronze rating.

Olin has earned a bronze AASHE STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System) rating.

Students are often surprised to learn how operating an institution's facilities is very complex (we have some very large pieces of mechanical equipment!) and involves many processes and stakeholders. One thing all students should remember about Facilities as they come to Olin is that we are here to make sure equipment, processes, and projects run smoothly, efficiently, and safely while working with all members of the community to ensure success.  

The author.

Claire is the Associate Energy Engineer in the Facilities department and has a background in Mechanical Engineering from Bucknell University.