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World Campus launches masters degree in project management|
By Karen L. Trimbath
| Penn States World Campus now offers a masters degree program in project management. The program addresses a growing need in the business world for professionals capable of overseeing a wide range of projects, including development of products and services.|
Students who enroll in the program will develop the insight they need to help their company become more effective, more efficient and more competitive, according to Dr. John Magenau, director of the Penn State Erie School of Business project management program. He also is associate professor of management and director of the School of Business.
The companies we work with want to gain a competitive edge, he said. They want a better, more-skilled group of managers.
This option evolved from a Web-based certificate program in program management developed through a partnership between Penn State Erie, the World Campus and the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) in England to meet the needs of industrial partners. The three companies involved with this initiative are Rolls-Royce, Goodrich (formerly TRW) and AMEC, an international engineering services company based in Toronto.
The partnership provides the key to this initiative. It got its start through Dr. Jeff Pinto, Samuel A. and Elizabeth B. Breene Professor of Management at Penn State Erie, whose research expertise includes project management. He also chairs the project management program.
Pinto received the Distinguished Contribution Award from the Project Management Institute in 1997 and 2001 for outstanding service to the project management profession and was nominated for its inaugural David I. Cleland Literature Award in 1999 for The Project Management Institute Project Management Handbook, which he edited.
He was asked to help Penn State join the partnership by Dr. Peter Morris, director of the Center for Research in Project Management at the University of Manchester. Earlier, the University of Manchester had established a U.K.-based training partnership with the three companies, all of which also have operations in North America. UMIST was seeking an academic partner in the United States with a reputation in project management to expand the professional training overseas. Rolls-Royce became the driving force behind the conceptual development and worked with UMIST to initially form course structure and content.
In November 2001, Penn State launched the certificate program through the World Campus, providing project management courses ranging from basic skills to training for the experienced professional. Today, 76 students from the three partner companies are enrolled in the certificate program. Many of them have engineering backgrounds.
Paul Garraway, director of business improvement at Rolls-Royce, said Penn State and the University of Manchester have successfully worked together to standardize the programan important consideration for employees located in different countries. Were very pleased with Penn State. Its faculty and staff are top notch, he said. Students give good reviews to both the content and delivery.
Corporations like Rolls-Royce use project management to regulate the process of developing products to become more efficient and cost effective. They want products to be developed on time and within budget, Dr. Ray Venkataraman, associate professor of management at Penn State Erie, said. He teaches two of the programs courses.
Theres very little margin for error, Venkataraman added. Once a mistake is made, its very difficult to recover. Thats why we look at the planning phase. Its an extremely complex field.
Garraway agrees. As little as five years ago, we didnt see project management as a profession, he said. We now see it as the pinnacle of the profession within our business. What we need is to take our engineers and other staff and turn them into professional project managers. Thats why this program is a wonderful conception.
Thats where the two World Campus programs come in. Both provide training and professional development to the three industrial partners. The 30-credit masters degree program provides a comprehensive analysis of all the most-pressing issues in project management today. Courses cover the management of soft projects, programs, values, risks and knowledge.
In addition to the graduate degree program, the postbaccalaureate certificate program will continue to meet the needs of the three industry partners. Each group of students starts the program at the same time; each session lasts six months. Although the course is Web based, students and faculty also meet at the Rolls-Royce Training Center at Indianapolis, where they focus on case studies that showcase the latest developments, as well as new ideas and emerging techniques.