The 5th Degree: Spring 2015 Update

by Just Juan

The Spring semester is in the books. Here’s an update on the 3rd leg to this drive for a 5th degree.

After a very good Fall 2014, I reloaded with 3 more classes for Spring 2015. Two of the classes—Real Estate in Facility Management and Operations & Maintenance in Facility Management—were amongst the core classes of the program while the 3rd class—Graduate Writing Strategies—was yet another general core class. The semester had some ups and downs but I was able to navigate it pretty well. I did extremely well in 2 of the classes and surprisingly not as well in the other. I got out of the semester with a 3.78 GPA for the term, which lowered my cumulative GPA to 3.79. Given the complexity of this material and my sham experience in DoD as far as applying real-life scenarios, I hope to get out of this program with at least a 3.7 GPA.

Real Estate in Facility Management—FCMG 740 in the RIT course catalog—was another course under the instruction of the program head, Dr. Jeffrey Rogers. In this course, the objective was for us to gain an appreciation of property, assets, and their resultant management, as an investment and profit center. This course had 4 textbooks, the most I’ve ever had for a single class: the Edmond Rondeau course pack, which featured Your Global Real Estate Strategic Policy: What Do You Do?, Move Management, and Principles of Corporate Real Estate and Sam Kubba’s Space Planning for Commercial and Residential Interiors. Those books combined cost $287. We learned about corporate real estate strategic policy, customer requirements, negotiation strategies, requests for proposal development and analysis, site selection, and a bunch of different building codes and standards. My favorite part of the class was learning about the disposal process. In all of my years of working in Air Force Civil Engineer Squadron Customer Service Offices, I never got a chance to learn closely about this part of the real estate process. The closest I got was at Joint Base Andrews, where the Chief of Real Property was part of my Facility Managers briefings. Anyway, the assignments consisted of weekly discussion and feedback posts, a midterm, and a case study that represented the final. At the end of the course, I gained an understanding of the role real estate management plays in facility management. I also got my first taste at one of the core competencies in the IFMA Certified Facility Manager credential. Through this course, I am able to do all of the following:

  • Conduct a corporate real estate market analysis and appraisal assessment
  • Analyze corporate real estate taxation and financing options
  • Develop corporate real estate cost models
  • Implement interior programming and space planning concepts for various types of facilities
  • Develop master and strategic plans

Course Grade: 95.6 (A)

Operations & Maintenance in Facility Management—FCMG 760 in the RIT course catalog—was the most anticipated course in the program because it was the one in which I had the most familiarity…at least that’s what it looked like in the program brochure. The actual course told a different story. Anyway, this course was centered on topics that covered the management of operations and maintenance, condition assessment and systems life cycle renewal, facility components and systems, preventive and predictive maintenance, operations plans, energy management, and sustainability in operations. We worked from the 2nd edition of Facility Manager’s Maintenance Handbook by Richard Payant and Bernard Lewis. The course was mostly a series of in-depth discussion and feedback sessions with 3 quizzes and a team project sprinkled in. Through this course, I got a much deeper understanding of what the craftsmen did during my Air Force days. Another way of putting it was that this was the classroom portion to the field stuff they did. Because of this course, I am able to do all of the following:

  • Develop knowledge of the details of different components and systems of a physical plant and how each one is integrated into the overall maintenance and renewal planning for facilities
  • Access the scope of the maintenance and renewal requirements for facilities and evaluate how the building condition and life cycle factors impact operations and maintenance planning
  • Understand the basic activities required to keep buildings functional, safe, and operating at high-quality levels
  • Provide sustainable operations and energy management efficiencies

Course Grade: 85.8 (B+)

Graduate Writing Strategies—GRCS 702 in the RIT course catalog—was the overload course this semester. The focus of the course was to learn the mechanics of research writing in preparation for the capstone project that I hope to start in Fall 2015. We worked from 3 books: (1) the 7th edition of A Pocket Style Manual by Diana Hacker and Nancy Sommers, (2) Grantseeker’s Toolkit: A Comprehensive Guide to Finding Funding by Cheryl Carter New and James Aaron, and (3) the 15th edition of Lester & Lester’s Writing Research Papers: A Complete Guide. This was, by far, the easiest course I’ve had at RIT so far. As a talented writer in my own right, I had no problems navigating the material. One could say that I got a little lazy at times because the material came so easily. I did learn something new though. I spent 5 out of the 15 weeks tagging up with a classmate on a grant proposal. We wrote up a real-life proposal for the Wayne County Children’s Cancer Fund to cover expenses associated with launching an awareness campaign through local advertising. It was just a grade for me but it was very, very personal for my partner. I’ll actually ask her it went in the fall. After 15 weeks, I was able to do all of the following:

  • Write in the APA style
  • Write from research
  • Understand and avoid plagiarism
  • Write effective notes and create outlines
  • Draft a paper in the academic style
  • Write a white paper
  • Write a grant proposal

Course Grade: 97.0 (A)

The semester was a decent bounce back from some struggle in Fall 2014. The most important thing is that I completed 6 classes over 2 semesters. That now paves the way for me to take a couple of electives in Summer 2015—which starts today—before wrapping up the program with a standalone capstone course in Fall 2015.

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