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Modeling And Simulation: A New Frontier For Project Controls Education

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Technology in Classrooms - Construction Engineering Perspective

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Page Count


Page Numbers

11.935.1 - 11.935.11



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Paper Authors

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Stephen Mulva Texas State University-San Marcos

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Modeling and Simulation: A New Frontier for Project Controls Education

The successful management of construction and engineering projects depends upon effective monitoring and control. As a result, project controls continues to be a primary means used to achieve a wide range of project goals and objectives. Due to its importance, many construction engineering and management (CEM) programs around the world maintain several project controls courses such as time control, cost control, and quality control. Given this background, this paper presents a new frontier for project controls education through the use of modeling and simulation software.

The drawbacks of contemporary project controls education are twofold. First, project controls- based decision-making is premised on static quantities and estimates completed in the past. This requires that new baselines be periodically reestablished as a reforecast. Second, elements of cost control (e.g., chart of accounts), time control (e.g., critical path method schedules), and quality control (e.g., statistical process control) commonly function as disparate entities. This situation exists largely because integration depends on resource continuity; something that the critical path method cannot ensure.

Recently, project modeling and simulation has been used by the author to demonstrate prospective, integrated project control. Assisted by software originally developed at the Center for Integrated Facility Engineering (CIFE) at Stanford University and commercialized as ePM’s SimVision®, specific projects were modeled concurrent with the resources necessary for their execution. Given this form of resource continuity, real-time forecasts of time, cost, and quality parameters were quantified based on several “what if” scenarios, thereby presenting modeling and simulation as a compelling platform for project control.

Through several case studies, this paper validates the use of modeling and simulation as an integrated medium for project controls education. It also demonstrates the advantage that an intuitive interface can provide to an engineering student; one which graphically and prospectively depicts the integration between resources, time, cost, and quality. In such an environment, students are able to comprehend project controls information and develop a feel for the impact which certain decisions have on project goals and objectives, thus creating knowledge. While additional research regarding the use of modeling and simulation in project controls is underway, the findings contained herein point towards a larger role for its use in future projects and engineering education.


Aspects of the project management function such as planning, control and monitoring require the integration of time, cost, and quantity of work with available resources. Since the early 1950’s, the classical scheduling methods of the Critical Path Method (CPM) and the Project Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT) have been used not only for planning, but also for controlling and monitoring projects. Historically, if the duration of the activities in the network is known, or can be ascertained, CPM has provided the means of calculating the duration for the entire project. On the other hand, if the duration of each activity is probabilistic, the project evaluation

Mulva, S. (2006, June), Modeling And Simulation: A New Frontier For Project Controls Education Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1063

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