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5 Questions for: Michael Costa, Manager of Building Logistics and Keys

Headshot of Michael Costa, Manager of Building Logistics and Keys.
Headshot of Michael Costa, Manager of Building Logistics and Keys. Photo by Lorianne Willett/Texas Connect Magazine.

Michael Costa finds great joy in helping others unlock doors on the Forty Acres, both figuratively and literally. If there’s a new place on campus — or an old one — you need access to during your academic or professional journey, UT’s resident lock and keys expert can make it happen.

In his role as manager of building logistics and keys, Costa oversees a department of just 15 people. That team assigns nearly 20,000 keys annually to students, staff and faculty that unlock 500,000 doors around UT’s main campus and the J.J. Pickle Research Campus. It’s a big job for a small group, but they’re more than up to the task.

Costa has been at the University since 2016, working his way up the ranks of Lock & Key Services from supervisor to his current position. In addition to his work helping students and employees, Costa prides himself in authoring UT Austin’s first-ever policy on key control and accountability. Before entering into higher education, Costa spent 20 years mastering the trade of locksmithing while operating a small family business in his native California. He was more than happy to bring his expertise to Texas, and eventually UT, after some convincing from a familiar face.

How did you start at UT and in Lock & Key Services?

I was working at Texas State University managing access services for that campus and my twin brother (Richard Costa) was working here in UT Planning, Design and Construction. My brother is UT’s subject matter expert on everything doors and thought it would be nice to have me here as the subject matter expert on everything locks and keys. We enjoy working together and have made a name for ourselves as the Costa Brothers.

 What is the most rewarding part about your day-to-day job interacting with students and other employees?

I find working with people from all walks of life that are at a different point in their lives very rewarding. Especially when they are working together on a project or common goal. I also like the idea that I have a small part in maintaining key control and accountability for campus.

 What do you like best about working on campus?

I like to see the interaction between students, staff and faculty. I think all staff should get out on campus daily during class changes or volunteer to work events. The campus is full of youthful energy, and that is what keeps me going each day.

 What’s one part of your job and the work your team does that is important but might go unnoticed?

I manage three different shops within Facilities Services: Event & Moving Services, Solid Waste & Recycling, and Lock & Key Services. Solid Waste & Recycling start their day at 4 a.m. and have most trash collected before the rest of campus start their day. Events & Moving Services set up stages, tables and chairs before most parties and events get underway. And Lock & Key Services create the key systems for all new buildings before the walls go up.

 What do you like most about being a Longhorn?

Honestly, knowing that I can make a difference to assist my teams in getting them the tools, training and knowledge they need to provide the best experience possible for their customers.

 Bonus: What are you looking forward to most about the move to a new building, and what will you miss most about the old building? 

I loved the old Service Building (SER). I am going to make the front lobby a time capsule of Lock & Key Services’ past. An original pencil drawing of the Service Building, the first key machine from 1938, framed key signature cards from UT Alumni, and of course, “The O-Key Corral.”

You can read more about more Costa and his work at Lock & Key Services in the Fall 2023 Edition of Texas Connect.