State-of-the-Art Center Offers 'Dream Job'
By Christine Dunlap
So you have a brand spanking new $80 million research building. It includes the whole nine yards: clean rooms, a plastic processing high bay, modern laboratories, cutting-edge equipment and state-of-the-art, integrated infrastructure systems.
How do you take care of it?
No-brainer: you bring in the best, most experienced facilities manager you can find.
That’s just what UMass Lowell did when it recently hired Gary Delehanty to serve as facilities manager for ETIC, the Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center, set to open this fall on North Campus.
“I am being handed a showcase and I want it to stay that way,” says Delehanty, who began his new job in April. “I not only want to ensure that the building systems are maintained and LEED certification is preserved, but I want the floors sparkling. If someone comes in, I want them to say, ‘Wow!’”
Delehanty, who has 25 years of experience maintaining and operating clean rooms and other research labs, mostly at pharmaceutical giant Dupont and its successor firms, says taking care of ETIC is a dream job.
“I could not have asked for a better facilities job anywhere,” he grins. “It’s a great building to work in and it has been fun just getting to know the equipment, with all the bells and whistles. It’s also refreshing to see this level of quality in the building systems.”
Says Thomas Dreyer, associate vice chancellor for Facilities Management: “Gary’s past experience and training, coupled with his ability to coordinate myriad technical and operational requirements, made him a clear choice for this position. We have already seen the added benefit that he brings with his congenial demeanor that enables him work well with researchers, contractors, maintenance staff and safety representatives.”
The 84,000-square-foot facility will be a hub of industry partnerships and new manufacturing technologies with nanotechnology, plastics engineering, biomedicine and electro-optics labs. Construction began in the summer of 2010 and will be completed in October 2012. Originally budgeted at $70 million, changed plans for the third and fourth floors brought the final cost to $80 million.
Says Julie Chen, vice provost for research, “This building has specific needs. ETIC has more sophisticated lab equipment and more sophisticated building systems. There are also greater health and safety needs in terms of ventilation and cooling for the labs. The building and its systems have to be closely monitored. Finally, the building needs to maintain stringent energy efficiency to keep its silver LEEDS certification.”
Delehanty is responsible for maintaining everything in the building from plumbing, electrical and HVAC systems to energy recovery, air handling and ventilation, fire alarm, toxic gas monitoring and water filtration systems.
“Everything should operate seamlessly,” he explains. “The researchers shouldn’t hear or see anything.”
Temperature, humidity and air pressure must be kept at critical levels to ensure safety, energy efficiency and a sound and reliable research environment.
The most cutting-edge aspect of the building’s infrastructure, says Delehanty, is the integration of the more than 30 systems that will keep the facility humming.
“The technology is one, two, three steps ahead of the norm that you would see in a research or manufacturing lab. It really is state of the art,” he says.
Did he see himself in this line of work when he was kid?
“I don’t know about that but as a kid, I did like to build things and see how they operated,” he laughs.
Delehanty grew up in Lowell and graduated from Lowell Trade School. He began his college career in UMass Lowell’s engineering program and then studied at the Boston Architectural Center before earning a bachelor’s degree in business management from Franklin Pierce College. He is also a certified project management professional (PMP).
Delehanty lives in Tyngsboro with his wife, Susan, and his daughter, Sarah, who teaches in Lowell. His son, Robert, is a civil engineer, and his son, Christopher, recently graduated from UMass Lowell with a degree in environmental studies.