Careers: The Mars City Project – Gamification for High Schools

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By Diane Coles

Edition 3 – June 2014 Pages 38

Tags: facilities management • careers

Right now only 8 percent of IFMA members are under 35. The IFMA Foundation is working to change this. It’s not just the IFMA membership that concerns us, it’s also providing educated professionals to enter the FM workforce in the years ahead.

We are working to make FM a career of choice by connecting, educating, engaging and investing in:

• High schools

• Community colleges

• And undeclared college students

For a long time, the IFMA Foundation has been focused on the FM Accredited Degree Program. The students graduating though our accredited degree programs enjoy a nearly 100% graduation rate, excellent salaries and multiple job offers are typical. But now, we need to focus on younger constituents making FM a career of choice to fill the student seats in our accredited degree programs worldwide.

One of our exciting new projects is called the Global Workplace Workforce Initiative. This includes connecting and engaging with high school students, teachers, counselors and parents. To do this, we are part of a team (along with NASA, the National Institute for Building Science and Total Learning Institute) to bring an innovative, virtual FM program to secondary schools where students can manage a facility on the Planet Mars. Yes! Can you believe it? It’s called the Mars City Project, which will bring gamification to schools to excite students about the field of FM.

Students will work closely together in teams, assume actual facility management positions, and manage the daily operations and projects in the Mars facility. They will face similar issues that most FMs handle on a regular basis except that the Mars facility will be inter-galactic. This makes learning fun and more relevant to real world FM experiences which will ultimately peak student interest in the profession. We will work with high schools that have STEM, STEAM, ACE, P-Tech and other similar programs. You are probably wondering what these acronyms mean.

• STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering & Math

• STEAM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math

• ACE – Architecture, Construction, Engineering

• P-Tech – Pathways in Technology Early College High School

These schools are primed to feed the wide-ranging, diverse career pathways in our field, not to mention the FM accredited degree program pipeline. Because FM has so many career pathways, along with high numbers of jobs coming available in every business sector (jobs that cannot be offshored), it’s time to be proactive, tell our story and develop our future FMs.

With this Global Workplace Workforce Initiative, we will act as a connector between business, government, high schools, colleges, universities, economic development, and IFMA chapters/councils to grow the future FM workforce and fill the sizeable gap in FM jobs coming available as the baby boomers retire.

Workforce development is the key to the future of our profession and the IFMA Foundation is working to provide high quality work-based learning opportunities through internships, externships, mentorships, scholarships and job fairs. We will offer IFMA educational content to existing STEM-focused programs and train teachers and guidance counselors about FM.

These new initiatives will require more volunteers and financial resources. If you are interested in helping our youth get excited about FM, we ask that you join our 15-500 club. Help us connect, educate, engage and invest in our future. W&P

Learn more at or email Diane Coles at [email protected]


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