The Project Notebook

Projects to Watch: Spring Garden Alive!

What do you get when you mix innovation, mentoring, education, and project management? Spring Garden Alive!, a product of PMI Founder Jim Snyder, PMI Delaware Valley Chapter, the School District of Phildelphia, Devry University, and the PMI Education Foundation. Here’s what I learned about this project while in Denver for the 2008 North American Leadership Meeting.

Using Perkins Title IV funds targeted at improving the life skills of High School students, the project teaches Project Management Skills within the Phildelphia school system. Students undergo a rigorous application (based on academic achievement and attendance) and testing process and have dual enrollment in high school and college (Devry University). The Delaware Valley Chapter of PMI supplies the mentors for the program which includes as instructional topics:

  • Charter and Scope
  • WBS
  • Network Diagrams
  • Budget
  • Resources
  • Project Control Plan
  • Risk Plan
  • Procurement Plan

The project students work on centers around developing a vacant lot near the school district headquarters. A number of students have already “graduated” from the program which has expanded to two Project Management classes. In addition to gaining 21st Century Life Skills, students completing the program are encouraged to further their education with the college credits earned by the course.

The PMI Education Foundation is actively seeking sponsors, mentors, instructions, and more to advance the program, perhaps taking it to other school districts based on the current levels of success, making it a “project to watch”.

Projects to Watch: “An Ambitious Project”

About 2 hours ago the Reuters service carried news of the malfunction of the world’s largest physics experiment, the $9B Large Hadron Collider (LHC) located beneath a CERN research center near the Swiss-French border. A 30-ton transformer designed to cool the magnets to -456.3F malfunctioned. The resulting helium leak into the 17 mile tunnel housing the equipment resulted in a shut down and its estimated to take two months to fix.

With this largest, most complex machine ever built, scientists are hoping to simulate the “Big Bang” conditions theorized to have taken place at the birth of the universe. Some of the things they will be looking for include:

– dark matter
– Higgs bosons (believed to give mass to all other particles)
– other exotic particles, possibly newly discovered

While critics are predicting the end of the world in small black holes which could be opened by the machine, the experts apparently feel its close to 100% safe.

Olympics: Eye on the Gold

The emergence of Project Management as a profession is attributed to public works projects in London after World War II. In 2012, we’ll have an opportunity to see London in action again. While the Bejing Olympic Torch was only lit last night, planning for the 2012 Olympics is well underway. In fact, according to the British Olympic Association’s (BOA) web site, the planning goes as far back as 1997 when the idea of an English Olympic bid first emerged. It was eight years later, in 2005, that the location was actually awarded.

The award actually comes after three unsuccessful bids by Birminham and Manchester. The BOA went into high gear and lobbied the voting members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). What they learned is an English bid wouldn’t be acceptable until they returned to the committee table with representation from London. Thus began this long term project, which including lobbying and public relations efforts to let the world know they were serious. Government backing was won in May 2003, but there would still be preparations and a presentation in Singapore in 2005 before the host city contract would be awarded.

The BOA efforts were true representation for the principles “if it is to be, it is up to me” and strategic planning. Too many companies abandon long term planning, citing an inability to see the business and marketplace landscape for more than a year out. Yet having a long term plan, with occasional mid-course corrections, may be a more effective way. They are, in a sense, creating their own future by envisioning it, living it, and making it happen.

I’ve been reading The Answer, the business version of The Secret, and this type of planning falls within their recommendations and principles, but I’ll save this for another week. In the meantime, enjoy watching the 2008 Summer Olympics in Bejing.


Projects to Watch: Punta Colonet

The story didn’t seem to get a lot of press or discussion, but a couple of people tipped me off and a search turned up an article from July 25th in SignOnSanDiego. Mexico’s federal government is planning a massive port project approximately 150 miles south of San Diego (this is south of Ensenada). The government is expected to publish bid specifications by the end of September for a container port and rail project designed to route Asian cargo through Mexico to the US.

Colonet is a small coastal community. When the project is completed, the port could rival Long Beach and Los Angeles, both of which are growing overburdened from congestion created by increased Pacific trade.

Several groups have expressed an interest in the project which would include a $4.5B private investment. Any number of “spin off” projects might be needed, including road improvements, a desalination plant for water, an improved border crossing, and rail line improvements.

At this point, little else is known about the project and the improved border crossing site has not been identified. The Baja California government is working on guidelines for urban development, where the population could grow to 200,000. This is a project to watch to see how plans unfold once the bid information is released later this year.

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© 2010-2012 Ray W. Frohnhoefer, MBA, PMP, CCP