Students shaping the future of facilities management

by FM Media
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Students from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD)’s School of Architecture, Built and Natural Environments have presented research at an international conference in Salford. The conference was called ‘Shaping tomorrow’s built environment,’ and was held at the University of Salford. The event was co-organised by the world leading ‘International Council for Research and Innovation in Building and Construction’, and is commonly referred to by its French acronym, CIB.

Duncan Crawley, Robert Townsend and Paul L Evans are the three postgraduate students who presented papers based on their individual research works that they carried out during their Masters of Science in Property and Facilities Management at UWTSD. It is planned that the research will also be published in refereed journals based on the feedback brought back to the university from the large and globally diverse range of delegates (of the built environment and construction industry) who attended the conference.

Trevor Francis, senior lecturer and program director of the MSc course in Property and Facilities Management, says: “I am very happy to see the progress of students at the university, and particularly in the discipline of the Built Environment and Construction, where these three students have demonstrated that the learning is taking place not merely through teaching, but equally via research as in dissertations and external, industrial engagement of our university.

“The experience, vision and guidance of [lecturer] Dr Butt, combined with his enthusiastic support has ensured that our students are able to stand as contemporaries on the world stage with mature practitioners and senior researchers. The CIB initiative is an exemplar for all to follow. It offers significant benefits and a model for a new Welsh economy. I commend the students and Dr Butt for their drive and initiative,” he says.

Duncan Crawley is head of Facilities, Powys Teaching Health Board, NHS Wales. He presented a paper entitled ‘Facilities management and waste management – benchmarks and practices need streamlining’, based upon his MSc research. He is now actively engaged with a number of highly senior managers at NHS Wales, updating existing benchmarks, unifying processes and audit methodologies with regards to solid waste management techniques in Welsh NHS facilities. This will contribute significantly to Wales’s national aim of achieving zero waste by 2050.

“As a mature student, I wanted to undertake a MSc in Property and Facilities Management not only to validate the experience from my previous and current roles but also to broaden my knowledge further in this specialised area,” Crawley says. “Attending tutorials on a part-time basis at UWTSD gave me the flexibility I needed to work around my day job without compromising the benefits of networking with fellow students.

“I found that my dissertation research on waste benchmarking was invaluable in identifying solutions for my own organisation and the adoption of such solutions in partner organisations. For this reason, I would encourage all employers to support their staff to take on the challenge of further higher education. I am so grateful for the guided support of my supervisor and other lecturers, and of course, my employer for their investment in me to develop my own career and give me the opportunity to give something back to my organisation.”

Robert Townsend is a key account manager at Wernick Buildings Ltd. His study, entitled ‘Facilities management, obsolescence and design – the triangular relationship’ has significant implications for the design, procurement and management of large estates, whether this in the public, commercial or residential sectors. He is now applying his research findings to prefabricated structures developed at the company.

“The consistent help of my supervisor leading me to present at this international arena, is a very effective way of marketing both for the university and my employer Wernick Buildings Ltd, not only nationally but also globally,” Townsend says.

“I look forward to working with my supervisor to further build on my conference papers and publish in high impact, refereed journals. This will uplift my resume / CV and professional profile as well as enhance the image of my employer and the university itself.”

Paul L Evans is operations compliance manager at Hywel Dda Health Board, NHS Wales. He presented his research paper on ‘Facilities management of NHS Wales – standardisation and other implications’, in which he identified and consolidated conceptual variations within NHS in Wales regarding facilities management. He has formulated recommendations for the prospective streamlining of FM systems and preparing the organisation to meet the implementation of the imminent ISO (International Standardisation Organisation) 41000 for FM. Considering that a substantial portion of the UK’s NHS budget is FM related, major cost savings and value added benefits could accrue that would enhance patient care.

Evans says, “A big thanks to the school and all the professional staff (specially my dissertation supervisors) that make it happen. It has been a great establishment to study at where I have spent more than six years studying for my BSc Hons and my MSc. When I eventually embark on my PhD, I will certainly be giving my supervisors a call, I can guarantee this. I would have not even thought about taking my studies to PhD level, if I had not studied in the Built Environment / Construction discipline at the University.”

Dr Talib E Butt from the School of Architecture, Built, and Natural Environments says, “The three-fold achievement of the MSc students and their supervisors demonstrates clearly how the university in general, and the School specifically, proactively focus upon engaging with external industry, commerce and the public sector. This leads to benefit the people and quality of life in Wales and the UK, ensuring the development and application of global knowledge and learning.

“In addition to effectively promoting the academic student experience, these students were able to apply international best practice to address contemporary challenges arising within their work places, in both the health care and built industries. This way, it leads to pragmatic solutions that enhance their employers’ social and business objectives whilst directly applying learning gleaned within their studies and research at the university.

“Research findings emanating from these (now former) students is already being considered by new students (both undergraduates and postgraduates) for further linked studies based on recommendations in the international papers and dissertations. The former students will also be engaged with new students in the ‘off-shoot’ research works being taken forward as an upward, living example of innovation. This actively contributes to productive expansion of the alumni of the university.

Furthermore, international co-authors were also included in the papers thereby inducing the element of internationalisation to the students learning and research taking place at the University. I particularly express my gratitude for the support of colleagues and the management of the School, Faculty and University, without which such achievements are not possible,” Butt says.

Image R-L: Trevor Francis, Duncan Crawley, Robert Townsend. Image courtesy of UWTSD.

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