Spotlight Projects

  • F&S is Driving the COVID Testing Effort

    Jan 15, 2021
    At the beginning of 2020, no one predicted that people’s saliva would need regular transportation pickups on campus, but here we are. With an expanded role in the era of COVID-19, F&S drivers are the behind-the-scenes service support for the university’s pandemic testing program. _DSC9721
    Dan Hiser, automotive sub-foreperson, explained that drivers bring new supplies to the testing sites and deliver the completed tests to Veterinary Medicine for analysis, with a roundtrip run completed to every test site every hour of operation, seven days a week. They also pick up students who have tested positive, deliver them to isolation sites (vehicles are decontaminated between trips), and return them to their place of residence when their isolation is over. This fall, they delivered 56 COVID-positive people to residence halls or other designated locations in one seven-week period.
    Additionally, F&S drivers are involved in a study looking at the effectiveness of testing strategies in COVID-19 positive volunteer test subjects, who receive saliva, nasal swab, and antigen tests to use throughout their 14-day isolation. The drivers pick up the samples and deliver them to the research team each day. (Read more about this study at
    Drivers are also transporting critical testing equipment to Bloomington, Chicago, Decatur, Springfield, and Indiana, and they have picked up supplies, such as test tubes, from customs to prevent testing delays. On top of all this, drivers will soon be servicing mobile COVID-19 testing sites, Macie Sinn, transportation clerk, said. These are expected to be operational by mid-December, with sites near Springfield and Chicago, so full-time and extra-help drivers will log even more miles.
    Pete Varney, associate director of Operations, Maintenance & Alterations, Transportation & Automotive Services, thanked other areas of F&S for their understanding when drivers were pulled off other projects. He also praised the drivers for their excellent group effort in supporting the university’s COVID testing. “It’s been a lot of long days, and it looks like it may continue well into next year,” Varney said. “There were a lot of logistics to sort out at the beginning, but the program is running smoothly.” In fact, people on campus may not even be aware of the massive effort involved because the F&S team makes it look so easy. Kudos to all involved.
  • Alpha Phi Omega Service Fraternity Expresses Thanks to F&S

    Dec 23, 2020
    The Alpha Alpha chapter of Alpha Phi Omega at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign appreciates F&S.
    The largest co-ed service fraternity on the Urbana campus sent dozens of digital thank you cards to Building Service Workers (BSWs). This is the second year in a row APO has sent their thanks to F&S. Pete Varney, associate director of Operations, Maintenance & Alterations, Transportation & Automotive Services.

    "F&S greatly appreciates your offer," said Varney. "We have been 100 percent focused on allowing a safe return to campus since the start of the university's response to the COVID-19 pandemic."

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  • Cleaning the Cleanroom

    Dec 01, 2020

    Even “cleanrooms” need to be cleaned, and F&S building service workers (BSWs) are up to the task.

    The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign features many state-of-the-art research facilities, including a cleanroom where some of the world’s brightest scientists and researchers use extremely sensitive tools, processes, and chemicals.

    For this room to earn the name “cleanroom,” this space must be immaculate.

    cleanroomResearchers who use the Materials Research Laboratory (MRL) have access to more than 140 specialty instruments and $40M worth of scientific tools, including in the MicroFab cleanroom and Raith prep cleanroom. MRL is a vital resource necessary to grow the health of the university’s scientific research. U of I faculty members, external academic researchers, and private industrial partners studying materials science engineering, chemical engineering, bioengineering and aerospace engineering, physics, and other physical sciences have 24/7 access to these capabilities that advance the world’s understanding of some of the most ground-breaking scientific discoveries. Research engineers Xiaoli Wang, Jeff Grau, and Tao Shang are in charge of the cleanroom and prep cleanroom.

    The rooms house a wide range of micro and nano-fabrication projects. Many precise tools, dangerous acids, and highly volatile ingredients are used to develop intricate microstructures. Optical photolithography, direct-write lithography, e-beam lithography, and wet etch processes are all carried out in MRL cleanroom labs.

    In other words, BSWs cannot just walk in and start dusting, sweeping, and spraying.

    Carla Ogle, an experienced BSW at MRL, learned how to navigate the space more than four years ago and has taught many others.

    First, BSWs enter the “gowning” room, where anyone entering the functioning cleanrooms must put on special personal protective equipment (PPE), including a full white suit, multiple sets of foot coverings, a gown, hood, gloves, boots, safety glasses, and a hair net. Unlike regular safety PPE, cleanroom garments worn in the space act to protect the environment from the wearer.

    Once in, the BSWs empty all the regular trash cans. A special duster is then used on surfaces, and the floor is cleaned three different times, the final time with chemicals specifically developed for cleanrooms.

    “I enjoy working in the cleanroom because it’s a different process and more meaningful challenge to care for the space,” said Ogle. “It helps me, and the rest of our BSWs, understand the impact of the research being done on this campus and how F&S enables it.”