SkillsUSA FM Pipeline - The Facilithon

In September 2014, a team was formed to create the first High school student competition Facilities Management through SkillsUSA Wisconsin. This team is comprised of a number of IFMA fellows across the US along with chapter members with a passion for the next generation of FM’s from Minnesota, Colorado and WI.   Our event, its rules and methods were formally approved by SkillsUSA WI in December of 2014. We are currently in the marketing period for our event which extends through March 2015.  This pilot event is scheduled to occur at SkillsUSA WI’s state conference, April 26-27th, 2015 at Alliant Energy Center in Madison. Provided this initial event is successful, the model will spread to other states toward national launch potentially in 2018.

In creating a viable competitive event in Facilities Management for SkillsUSA, our team contemplated a number of factors. These included specific competence, ability to think on one’s feet and one’s natural tendency to gravitate toward FM as a career. Our team also considered the marketing elements necessary to raise above the din of other competing events and objectives for not only the students themselves, but their SkillsUSA advisor/mentors who help lead students to good outcomes.

Given these factors, we created The Facilithon.  Where other SkillsUSA events have rather mundane names, this unique Occupation-based competition’s name evokes something higher, loftier. The Facilithon has three parts;

  •          a 50 question test that examines specific competencies
  •          a 15 minute prepared role-play based on a test case scenario
  •          The FM challenge, basically an emergency monkey wrench thrown in the path for the student to respond to by thinking on their feet.   This “monkey wrench” is delivered either via video, paper or verbally at the end of the prepared role-play event.

We will have a booth at 5 upcoming regional conferences around the state from late January through February.  Additionally, we will have presence at the WI Tech Education Conference March 25-27th, which coincides with the International Tech Ed conference’s first time in Milwaukee.   

Any of these are great events to see what the next generation is doing in addition to sharing our message of this great new competitive event. There’s little or no work involved, just sharing your passion of FM with those who stop by, quite fun by comparison with other winter weekend tasks. There is also an opportunity to help us judge the first competition in April, as we intend to provide SkillsUSA WI more volunteers than necessary to remain in good standing there.

Interested in meeting the next generation of FM’s on a February weekend? Please contact Elizabeth Crain or Jim Zirbel from the Madison Chapter at 608 442-9770 or

SkillsUSA WI Regional Events

Northcentral Tech College – February 6, 2015  Wausau, WI

Gateway Tech College – February 13, 2015 Racine, WI

Fox Valley Tech College – February 20, 2015 Appleton, WI

UW Stout – February  26-27, 2015 Menominee, WI

WTEA/ITEEA conference- March 25-27, 2015  Wisconsin Center and the Milwaukee Hilton Hotel