Precision AC Factors In Mission-Critical Program
A mission-critical training program in the country’s data-center hotbed uses precision air-conditioning equipment to maintain optimum operating temperatures.
Shelby, NC, about 40 miles outside of Charlotte, is an unlikely place to be the home of the future of mission-critical operations - but nothing could be further from the truth. In 2013, the U.S. Department of Labor Employment Training Administration provided a $23-million dollar grant to establish the National Consortium for Mission Critical Operations, or NCMCO.
This grant, the largest ever awarded to North Carolina Community Colleges, is enabling Cleveland Community College, Shelby, along with other academic and industry partners, to lead the development of a comprehensive mission-critical operations academic program.
Data Aire Inc., Orange, CA, a pioneer in mission-critical cooling, is a part of this ground-breaking effort. The new program is uniquely positioned to serve the mission-critical personnel needs of the exploding data-center industry in the region - which includes several leading companies.
They are a natural fit for the program, as their gForce line of CRAC (computer room air conditioner) units has a proven track record of reliability, energy efficiency, and flexibility.
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So why Shelby, North Carolina? Jonathan Davis, project manager, Mission Critical Operations at Cleveland explained, “North Carolina has been a hotspot for mission-critical operations. We have seen an influx of data centers into this area, so much so that some call it the data-center corridor. We have Google, we have Facebook, Disney, Apple, Wipro, and AT&T - just to name a few of the data centers that are within a 50-mile drive from Cleveland Community College. So one reason that I think that these facilities are located in North Carolina is our abundance of land, our abundance of utilities and power, and the cost of those utilities and power. We sit in the isothermal plane, so we don’t have drastic weather.”
Cleveland Community College had a strong partnership with a local industry association and worked with them to develop a comprehensive training program to fill a growing need for mission-critical operators in the field.
They quickly realized they needed a large grant. That’s when the U.S. Department of Labor stepped in and provided the $23 million dollar grant with $13 million going to the college as the consortium lead.
Mission-critical operations is now a multi-faceted discipline that applies to more than just data centers. “Mission-critical operations is comprised of courses in engineering automation, HVAC, information technology, safety systems and codes, facilities management and more,” stated Davis.
"All of that blended together to create a hybridized curriculum to train mission-critical operators to work in data centers, 911 call centers, hospitals, critical laboratories, and any other mission-critical space. We’re talking careers and jobs that are often fast-paced, demanding, and require high levels of both mechanical aptitude and brain power.”
With data centers, manufacturing processes, testing labs, and applications of any size—even indoor agriculture facilities—comes the all-important need for ultra-precision environment control. After a rigorous research and selection process, Data Aire gForce CRAC units were chosen not only for the mission-critical program but also for the main campus data center itself.
The criteria? Data Aire equipment is reliable, has low decibel ratings, is ultra-efficient, matches load and demand with ease, and interfaces with existing building-automation systems.
Data Aire units have proven to be popular with faculty and staff:
- “With this program and with Data Aire’s equipment, I believe we’re going to be able to help each other in the long run by communicating back and forth different situations where we can continuously optimize performance,” said Russ Hamilton, HVAC instructor.
- “We purchased at least five Data Aire CRAC units for our data centers; they were recommended by engineers and designers that we had working on this project for their value and their reliability. They are also very intuitive from the interface,” stated Jonathan Davis, project manager.
Enthusiasm about the program and equipment is high at Cleveland Community College. Industrial systems instructor Rodney Cobb explained: “I feel that this program is groundbreaking and that other colleges and universities will be inspired by what we’re doing and that we will meet the demand of the major data centers in this area. I’m excited that other colleges and universities will pick up on what we’re doing.”