New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
“At some point, everything’s going to go South on you. You’re going to say, ‘This is it. This is how I end.’ Now, you can either accept that, or you can get to work. You have to solve one problem, and then solve the next problem, and then solve the next problem, and if you solve enough problems, you get to go home.” Those are the words spoken by Astronaut and biologist Mark Watney, played by Matt Damon, in the final scene of the 2015 film, “The Martian.” Watney is speaking to a class of aspiring astronauts about the reality of space missions. He knows and has experienced the very real, unpredictable nature of space missions, having just returned from a mission where he was abandoned on Mars. Watney and his crew had trained and planned extensively, and had scheduled every activity of the mission. Then the mission “went South,” big time. Success from that point would not be determined by following the pre-project plan and schedule, but by the ability of Watney and team to adapt to the evolving reality of the circumstances, scarce resources, and time-limited opportunities in front of them. Are we preparing our students to face the same “living order” whitewater of real-world projects? Too often project management courses present students with models, tools and practices that implicitly assume we can plan and schedule all details at project launch. Success is assured if the initial schedule is enforced. In the world of real projects, circumstances, resources, and time requirements change, sometimes suddenly. Are we equipping students with the agility, resolve, and tools to adapt their team’s efforts for redefined success when their projects “go South?” The proposed paper and presentation will focus on lessons learned in teaching “living order” project management to practicing engineers as part of the curriculum for a Master of Engineering Management program. We will discuss the evolution of the design of this course over the past 10+ years to address the very real needs of practicing professionals to design their teams, their planning, scheduling, and monitoring methods to be agile and adaptable to navigate the churning whitewater of living-order projects.
Pferdehirt, W. P., & Russell, J. S., & Nelson, J. S. (2016, June), Teaching Project Survival Skills: Lessons from 'The Martian' Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26046
ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2016 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015