|navigate: home: magazine: spring 2003: article|
Workforce, Community and economic Development|
Penn State Abington teams up with Exelon for project management training
By Kerry A. Newman
| In the workplace, project managers are responsible for leading project teams and keeping members focused on achieving their goals. Depending on the setting, objectives may include overseeing budgets, establishing schedules, meeting deadlines and ensuring the quality of a product or service.|
Project management can be complex in a marketplace where businesses are challenged to produce more with fewer resources. Add in external pressures of changing technology and increases in competition, and the need for efficient and effective project managers is heightened. All of these factors led Tom Murphy, director of management and employee development at Exelon, to Penn State Abington.
Exelon, the parent company of PECO (Philadelphia Electric Company) Energy, requested that Penn State develop a project management course for PECO Energy employees. Professionals from the Continuing Education office, led by Dr. Jane Owens, director of Continuing Education, and Joy Fraunfelter, Continuing Education representative, facilitated the development of a project management program tailored to meet PECOs individual needs.
Project management is a really popular training topic in workplaces right now, due to the role of teams, Fraunfelter said.
Led by Penn State instructor Ann M. Tomalavage, PE, PMP, the resulting noncredit program spans 35 weeks and consists of 17 sessions. Over the course of the program, PECO employees meet every other week, during the workday, to participate in the training. The first group began in October 2001, the second in February 2002 and the third in September. There is already a waiting list for the next two groups.
Unlike many other project management programs, this program focuses on participative planningthat is, involving the team, to ensure understanding and commitment. Each project team selects a current or future work project to plan. The participants come from different PECO offices in the Philadelphia area, and their job duties comprise different responsibilities. The project teams are purposefully composed of representatives from different departments. The participants have found this gives them the unique opportunity to experience the work of other groups firsthand. Some of the real-life projects the teams planned include providing power to the new football stadium in Philadelphia, implementing a new equipment maintenance information system and initiating a new customer-choice system to be consistent with new energy deregulation requirements.
Project management experience levels in the classroom vary, Fraunfelter said. The one thing they all have in common is that they are currently operating in the capacity of a project manager or they are interested in becoming one.
For the final five weeks of the program, the participants prepare to succeed in a computer-based project management certification exam administered by the Project Management Institute. The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is the gold standard for project managers. The Project Management Institute, a nonprofit professional association recognized worldwide for setting industry standards in project management, is headquartered in the Philadelphia area. The institute has more than 95,000 members worldwide and provides certification for the Project Management Professional and the Certified Associate in Project Management.
A sampling of participants comments about the program illustrates its success. The teamwork really helps me learn, I was very impressed with the instructors knowledge and the way she conducted the program and Great job! [Ann] held it all together and brought it to a solid conclusion are just a few of the accolades Tomalavage has received.
As of December 2002, we have had more than 120 people through the programpeople with an optimistic future, Fraunfelter said.
This year, the Penn State Abington Continuing Education staff plans to expand the partnership with Exelon by offering a business writing class to the PECO employees. It has been a great relationship for us and has opened doors to other training opportunities, Owens said.
For more information about programming at Penn State Abington, contact Jane Owens by phone at 215-881-7396 or by e-mail at email@example.com. For more information about Exelon, contact Tom Murphy at 215-841-4698.
An outreach program of Penn State Abington Continuing Education