November 01, 2012

Finding a Future in Facilities

Hands-on Experience Leads to Family Tradition

Timothy Chouinard

Facility Planning and Management '14
Co-op Employer: Boston College's Facilities Engineering and Energy Department
Co-op Position: Facilities Engineering and Energy co-op
Hometown: Lakeville, MA

Although Chouinard began Wentworth as an architecture major, he realized halfway through his freshman year that he wanted to switch to something with a stronger business focus. “I’m not as artsy as I thought I was,” Chouinard said. Fortunately, he needed only to turn back to his family’s history to find the path forward: his father, uncle, and grandfather all work or have worked in the facilities business. Plus, Chouinard attended a facilities and management presentation during his freshmen year that “piqued my interest,” he said. Afterward, he spoke with Management and Facilities Department Chair Suzanne Kennedy and realized he had found the right major. Facilities, he discovered, was “a mix between [architecture and business], which is something that was interesting to me.”

By his junior year, Chouinard was ready to launch into his first co-op. He began working in April 2012 at the Boston College's Facilities Engineering and Energy department, learning the purposes of the equipment used in facilities departments. “I did a lot of collecting of data from equipment and energy readings, and putting them into visual formats, such as graphs and drawings,” he said. “Those would be passed up to the directors, and they could see which problems needed to be fixed.” The experience convinced Chouinard that he was on the right path. “It was definitely what I wanted in a first co-op job,” he said. “It gave me a good basis of how mechanical systems work within a facility and how a building runs. I got to learn a lot about the chillers, air handlers, and cooling towers – all aspects of HVAC.”

The experience has also given him a strong foundation for his coursework. “I feel prepared,” Chouinard said. “In class, we’re starting to get into the types of equipment used in facilities, and I already have a basic knowledge of what kinds of equipment are used in a facility and how they work together.” Beyond the classroom, Chouinard is now better able to explain just what a facilities department does to friends who aren’t in the business. “Facilities isn’t a department that creates revenue,” he said, “but it saves the company money.” 

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