Meet Steven, Facility Operations Specialist

Criterion Careers | Day in the Life Series

Meet Steven, Facility Operations Specialist

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What do you do?

I’m a Facility Operations Specialist at the USDA-DISC Data Center in Kansas City, MO. I maintain all of the electrical and mechanical systems that support the data center to ensure the servers always have power and cold air. I try to get these things accomplished in the most energy efficient and reliable way possible. Contrary to what most people in my building think, I don’t control the heating and cooling to their office spaces.

What are 5 things you do almost every day?

  • The first thing I do is check our Building Automation System to make sure our critical electrical systems and chilled water systems are running smooth and free of alarms.
  • I check my email and calendar to see what activities we have scheduled for the day.
  • I make a list of things that I want to accomplish each day and prioritize it (I have a list for everything). Then I start working on that list.
  • Coordinate with vendors. We almost always have vendors on site for various types of work: Generator maintenance, HVAC maintenance, electrical maintenance, security, controls, etc. My responsibility is to make sure each vendor knows exactly what they are expected to do, provide them the support necessary to complete their work, and then verify that the work was successfully completed.
  • Every day I try to learn something new and improve something within the data center — even if it’s something minor, it’s all about progress.

Do you have a morning ritual? Something you do to start your day?

I start every day the exact same way, I hit snooze and say a prayer that it’s actually Saturday and that I set my alarm on accident. In seriousness, I start every day by reading the Bible and drinking my coffee.

What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?

  • Electrical, mechanical, and HVAC knowledge.
  • Critical thinking — sometimes in high-pressure situations.
  • Project management — organization, communication, and coordination are key.
  • Must be detail oriented — a mistake in this line of work could have a widespread impact.

What do you like best about your job?

The variety. There are new challenges every day.

What advice would you give to someone looking to become a Facility Operations Specialist?

Get a Bachelor’s Degree in Data Center Engineering or try to get your foot in the door as an HVAC technician or electrician. Most people in this field have an electrical or HVAC background.