During more than a decade of teaching technical project management to graduate engineering students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, professors Jeffrey Russell, Wayne Pferdehirt, and John Nelson found themselves circling around a new approach to the field. Whereas traditional project management focuses on methodical plans, they wanted to acknowledge the realities of a modern world constantly in flux. The result is the new ebook Technical Project Management in Living and Geometric Order, now available as an open educational resource.
Technical Project Management in Living and Geometric Order demonstrates that even the best-laid project plans can be undone by new technologies, financial upheavals, or resource scarcity, among other disruptors. It encourages students to focus on learning throughout a project, with the understanding that what they learn could necessitate major changes in midstream. This adaptive, flexible, living-order approach is inspired by Lean in construction projects and Agile in software development.
Russell, Pferdehirt, and Nelson developed Technical Project Management in Living and Geometric Order as a supplemental textbook for their technical project management course, part of UW–Madison’s Master of Engineering: Engineering Management program. This flexible, online program provides an MBA-style education in the business of engineering, geared toward midcareer engineers looking to work more effectively or to move into leadership positions. Students learn to analyze corporate financial data and make sound engineering and business decisions. The program is rated as one of the top online graduate engineering programs by U.S. News & World Report and has won several national awards for its educational quality.
“Like our technical project management course, Technical Project Management in Living and Geometric Order helps students build on their experiences and develop effective strategies for managing complex technical projects,” says Russell, dean of Continuing Studies and vice provost for Lifelong Learning at UW-Madison. “The book emphasizes applying project management concepts to real-world problems.”
Introduction to the living order
In releasing the book as an open educational resource, the authors were motivated by the Wisconsin Idea, which encourages UW-Madison to share its resources for the public good. The university has always been a pioneer in delivering course materials in innovative ways, from correspondence courses to public broadcasting to online courses.
“Technical Project Management in Living and Geometric Order explains how today’s projects unfold in dynamic environments with unexpected events,” says Russell. “With its practical tips, detailed graphics, links to additional resources, and interviews with engineering professionals, it’s an accessible introduction to the living order for aspiring project managers.”
For more information on UW–Madison’s Master of Engineering: Engineering Management program, see the program website.