Fort Worth Data Center Tour
Infrastructure Masons Has First Apprentice Tour in Data Centers
The Infrastructure Masons had their first “Apprentice Tour” in September, marking the inaugural event in a series designed to raise awareness of the data center industry among students ranging from middle school through graduate school. It is widely acknowledged among data center industry participants that knowledge of data center careers is limited, and that much greater awareness is needed to attract the number of talented individuals that will be required to support industry growth throughout the next 10 years. The Apprentice Tour program is an attempt by the Infrastructure Masons to educate and attract young people to infrastructure careers, including all aspects of design, construction, and operation from the service entrance where electricity comes into a facility, through the computer infrastructure, up to the virtual machine.
The iMasons arranged with social media giant Facebook to have students from Southern Methodist University (SMU) tour Facebook’s facility in Fort Worth, TX. Students ranged from freshman through graduate students, including several from SMU’s Data Center Systems Engineering program. In support of the iMasons 50-50 initiative, which promotes participation of women in technology careers, 17 of the 26 students who volunteered for the tour were women.
Facebook provided planning and support for the effort, as well as seven infrastructure professionals to tour the group through their facility, and talk to the students about how they came into the infrastructure industry. The Facebook employees talked about their educational and career backgrounds, what events led them into the infrastructure industry, and what a typical day was like in their jobs. People from logistics, construction management, data center operations, architectural design, project management, and site selection participated, giving the students a broad spectrum of jobs that are needed at a facility like Facebook’s Fort Worth data center.
The students came mainly from engineering backgrounds, but there were also management science and business students, reflecting the broad range of opportunities for employees in infrastructure companies. Many students had not considered a career in the infrastructure industry before the tour, but came to realize the breadth of opportunity and need within the industry for talented individuals. Some of the students inquired about internships and full-time positions.
Students ate lunch in the Facebook cafeteria, experiencing one of the benefits of working in the infrastructure industry for a big social media company. On the hour-long tour of the facility, students learned about logistics of receiving racks of systems into the facility, the hot and cold air management in the main data halls, the efficient cooling systems employed by Facebook in their mega data centers, and how technicians are able to support the hundreds of thousands of servers inside the massive buildings.
This tour represents the first of what iMasons plans to be many facility tours for students. This organic growth strategy has long-term payoff of raising awareness in students minds the benefits and excitement of infrastructure careers, eventually drawing more talent to the industry. The value of showing young people “where Siri lives,” or where Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Mobile Strike battles actually occur is that they begin to appreciate the importance of the construction of the new Digital infrastructure, and want to participate in the exciting career opportunities our industry offers.