Building, Maintenance & Operations


The Ops Center
The Facilities and Auxiliary Services Operations Center, known as the Ops Center, serves the UD community around-the-clock. At any time, students, parents, visitors, staff, faculty and administrators can call to report problems or ask questions regarding UD facilities.

The Ops Center has a diverse staff of four full-time employees and eleven UD students, of different ages and backgrounds. Supervisor John Schwander says the experience of working in such a diverse office benefits staff when helping UD customers.

According to Schwander, the Ops Center receives about 130 customer phone calls on a typical weekday in addition to walk-up customers. The Ops Center also receives requests from technicians with two-way radios. 

Schwander says all of those calls and requests resulted in approximately 35,000 work orders last year.

Answering the Call
When a caller reports a problem with any of UD’s facilities, the service coordinator gathers information about the problem, severity, location and the point of contact. The service coordinator will then either dispatch the call to a technician or put the job in the shop queue depending on its nature.

To dispatch a call, the service coordinator refers to charts for trade coverage zones, technician availability and special rules to select a technician. He or she then uses the two-way radio or telephone to communicate with the mechanic.Whether the call is dispatched or sent to the shop’s queue, the service coordinator creates a work order that enables Facilities to track each job.

Facilities Notification System
As part of an on-going effort to improve customer communications, the Operations Center recently launched a new Facilities Notification System, which allows members of the UD community to subscribe to campus locations that are of interest to them. When a notice is sent regarding one of their selected locations, customers receive an email alert, which includes a link which always provides the most current information, even if the customer clicks it from an older email.This system not only increases customer service but has considerable time savings for service coordinators, enabling them to give more attention to the customers.

Get the Most out of Your Call
"When a customer calls 1141, the service coordinator strives to answer the phone as soon as possible," says Schwander. "For the best service, try to avoid the busiest hours, typically weekday mornings. Have your information ready–including the building, room, problem, severity, contact’s name and phone number. Also, please be patient with the phone system’s capability – the Operations Center phones don’t start ringing until the third ring." 
The main Ops Center offers extended hours of service, open 7 a.m.–11 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m.–8 p.m. on weekends and most holidays. For emergencies, customers can reach a live representative at any time of day by dialing 302-831-1141.

Students Use Central Utility Plant for Lab Exercise
Mechanical engineering undergraduate students are using their classroom instruction to perform “real world” investigations with heat generating and heat removal equipment at the University’s central utility plant.

Under the direction of Professor Dyer Harris, groups of students are measuring the performance of our boilers and chillers this spring. In the classroom, students have been exposed to the classical refrigeration vapor compression cycle using a simple one ton window air conditioner.

Now, they will “scale-up” that knowledge looking at the plant’s liquid chillers that remove 750 tons of heat. Their other lab exercise will include measuring the thermal mass balance on one of our steam boilers deriving its unique efficiency curve.

“This is actually a continuation of what I had my lab class do last year, building this year on more discovery," says Harris. "With the help of Steve Bunville, instrumentation technician and the boiler operators, we were able to expose 12 groups of students to a large chiller plant operation."

Ken Grablewski, director of Facilities Operations and Maintenance, says, “Think of it as a win-win–a meaningful and practical student experience providing the University with a tool we can use to best operate our equipment more efficiently, saving utility costs and reducing our carbon footprint.”

Dave Graham, Facilities engineer, has been instrumental in developing this real world teaching partnership with Professor Harris.

“Being granted access to the central utility plant is an excellent opportunity for our students. They see the applied side of theories and equations we teach in class," says Anette Karlsson, chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering. "Professor Harris has developed some very interesting and realistic design problems around the equipment, and I am grateful that we can work with Facilities to make it into a real design experience. This is a unique opportunity for our students, and very few—if any—mechanical engineering programs that I am aware of offer such an experience.”

The students will finish their lab efforts and submit their findings to Facilities at the end of the spring semester.

The Flannerys Feed the Hungry

When Mike Flannery isn’t working in the Facilities and Operations HVAC shop, he and his wife, Edwina, a custodial technician in Robinson Hall, are busy providing food for those in need in nearby Maryland.

Read about the Flannerys’ efforts to help the less fortunate here.

New Knox Boxes Installed

The Facilities and Auxiliary Services Housing Carpenter Shop kept busy during Winter Session, finishing up the installation of Knox Boxes in the seventy-plus residence halls across campus.

The black boxes were first included on the set of new residence halls built on Laird Campus between 2005 and 2008. Placed near exterior entrances, they contain access cards inside them, allowing first responders to get into a residence hall should there be an emergency requiring immediate entry.

Jeff Work of the Environmental Health and Safety Department helped determine the specific locations for the new Knox Boxes.

The Housing Carpenters faced some challenges installing the boxes, as they were flush mounted to the building exteriors by drilling through brick and solid concrete to securely anchor the units.

In the accompanying picture, Geoff Squier and Chuck Skelley place a Knox Box outside the tube way entrance to Harrington C.

Ships Docked in Lewes
UD has two ships that are docked year-round in Lewes, the 166-foot Del-River, which is an oil recovery vessel for the Delaware Bay and River, and the 146-foot R.V. Hugh R. Sharp.

The Del-River draws 7 feet of water while the R.V. Hugh R. Sharp draws 10 feet of water. 

The dredge comes out of the New Castle Conservation District. 

The silt and sand removed from the harbor is pumped to the dredge disposal site, located between Cannon Lab and UD’s 2 mega-watt wind turbine.

To accommodate these vessels, the harbor must be dredged every five years, and the most recent dredging effort began in October 2011.

Earth Week at UD

Can you remember the very first “Earth Day,” observed on April 22, 1970? School children were herded by teachers into a middle school auditorium to hear about how former U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin had asked everyone to set aside one day each year to celebrate and take action to preserve our planet for future generations.

Fast forward to the present day–UD will sponsor “Earth Week,” from April 18–28. As in past years, Facilities and Auxiliary Services is a co-sponsors of Earth Week and is involved in the planning and support of numerous green-themed efforts to raise awareness.

The week will kick off by grabbing everyone’s attention with green ribbons tied to the lamp posts along the Green, which was also done last year. 

Facilities and Auxiliary Services will have a table at the “Green Expo,” on Wed., April 25, outside of the Trabant University Center. Various UD departments and academic units will showcase green initiatives from across campus for the community.

On Fri., April 20, Facilities and Auxiliary Services will help support the “Dare to Unplug” effort–encouraging the campus to “brown out” from 1 p.m.–5 p.m. by unplugging appliances that are unnecessarily drawing electrical currents. Energy usage from April 20 will be compared to the previous Friday, April 13, to determine how much energy the campus saved and encourage reducing energy on an ongoing basis to help preserve the planet.

The week ends on April 28, with the annual Ag Day celebration down at South Campus.

All Green Week events can be accessed on the Earth Week webpage.

Exemplary Work

Check Employee Recognition section of the HR page the read about members of the Building, Maintenance and Operations team who recently have been recognized for their outstanding work.