Korean students attend summer FM program in Atlanta

Written by Henri Brickey, Whitco Roofing.

Twenty two undergraduate students and one graduate student from Kyung Hee University in South Korea recently participated in the Facility Management Intensive Program at Georgia Tech, which took place in Atlanta from June 30 to July 29.  The program was taught and organized by Dr. Eunhwa Yang, assistant professor at Georgia Tech’s School of Building Construction, and Dr. Jun Ha Kim, a Georgia Tech Alumni now teaching at Kyung Hee University in South Korea.

The four week FM “boot camp” was divided into four sessions; general introduction to FM, space planning and management, management and leadership and finally operations and maintenance.  During the program, guest lecturers from Atlanta’s FM community spoke to the program participants on a variety of topics – from emergency preparedness to sustainability to environmental psychology. Guest speakers included IFMA Atlanta President Joe Pearson, who works as Location Manager at EY in Atlanta. Brandi Williams, IFMA Atlanta member and assistant professor of construction maintenance at Kennesaw State University, was also one of about a dozen guest lecturers.

“I really enjoyed meeting with the students from Korea and discussing U.S. space/business trends and touring them around our space at EY,” Pearson said. “During the lecture, we discussed the impact of sociology and human behavior on space planning and did a deeper examination of how we design and build our space. We also discussed the changing nature of the FM (Facilities Manager/Operations leader) role and how that is magnified with artificial intelligence, multiple generations and other factors.”

Yang says she’s grateful to all the people in the local FM community who helped make the program a success.  “A lot of IFMA professionals came to spread the word and help show these students how bright the future of FM is,” Yang said. “I can’t say enough how much I appreciate all the help we received from the IFMA community.

In addition to the tour of EY, students also participated in site visits to Herman Miller and Coca-Cola headquarters.  “All of the guest lecturers and site visits added so much value to the students’ learning experience and the program,” Yang said. “People learn from experiencing things and looking with their own eyes. People learn by doing rather than being told. …I received lots of positive feedback from students. They definitely loved the site visits… and learning from industry experts.”

This was the third time the summer exchange program was organized at Georgia Tech, with previous visits from South Korean students in 2013 and 2014. Kyung Hee University’s undergraduate FM program has been recently accredited by the IFMA Foundation.

On the final day of the program, students gave presentations on FM-related topics that they selected. The topics they chose included designing an Amazon bookstore interior, creating an FM career path and how to design the interior work space of a rural bank to attract younger employees.

“I was so impressed with the final result of the group projects,” Yang said. “Overall, they had a very positive experience.”

Yang said the program may be repeated in the future, possibly in two or three years.