Published here August 1, 2011


Musings Index

PMP Lecturers need Real Experience on Real Projects

A report by Declan Lynch in the New Civil Engineer International[1] observes that the Institution of Civil Engineers (UK) is pursuing a goal of 50% of civil lecturers on accredited university degree programs being chartered by 2015. This move has been prompted by concerns that lecturers are failing to respond to industry's needs because of a concern that they lack the practical experience of the subjects they are teaching.

Current ICE charter membership rates among university civil engineering departments are believed to be around 10%. ICE vice president Richard Coackley announced the measure at the recent formal launch of the Construction Industry Research & Information Association's guidance program titled: Preventing Catastrophic Events in Construction.

According to Andy Hughes, Director of dams & water at Atkins consulting engineers: "It is very important that to teach a practical subject you must have practical experience in it. [Hence universities] could benefit from employing lecturers with project experience. There's nothing better than passing on real life experience."

Amen to that! Can the same be said of those who teach project management? We think it can, and not just at the degree level. The same principle should apply at all levels of project management teaching.

To put it another way

It is not sufficient to have dabbled in some form of project management application, then learn the Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge by heart, pass the Project Management Professional (PMP) exam and then recite the Guide verbatim in instruction classes. You need to be able to relate practical experiences in a way that demonstrates how to apply this knowledge on real projects in real time. And handle the inevitable people and stakeholder consequences.

But life is not that simple. Just as civil engineering consists of many different disciplines, projects stem from the creation of many different types of products, each unique in their own way. And, as we have been at pains to articulate before, different types of products in different circumstances require different project management approaches, or at least project management with different emphasis.

Lecturing alone is not sufficient. It is the practical experience involving a specific technology that really counts, be it civil, electrical, electronic, software, administration, or you name it.

1. NCE International Edition, June 2011, p5
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