MEng candidates compete in finals at Project Management event

Team PhotoWestern Engineering News | November 4, 2015

Some of the most important lessons we learn come from evaluating outcomes.

Western Engineering MEng candidates Rohit Kulkarni, Yuyang Wang and Ziyu Zhang applied this theory at the 5th annual Project Management Paper Competition (PMPC) in September. The team of students held off opponents from Queen’s University, Trent University, the University of Toronto and McMaster University, falling only one point short of first place.

The PMPC takes a unique approach to understanding project management, requiring participants to focus on lessons learned from a recently completed project. Topics represented in the finals included: the Berlin Brandenburg Airport, presented by Trent University; the Novopay Payroll System, by Queen’s University; and the Millau Viaduct, presented by the Western University team.  

"The PMPC is an opportunity for the ambitious," said Kulkarni, Western’s team captain. "From the standards of marking and testing, to the quality of the Q&A rounds, everything is expected to be top-notch.”

Kulkarni emphasized the importance of teamwork, confidence, passion and patience in achieving success at the competition. “Everyone who attends this event takes back new ideas and a new way of thinking that they can implement in their workplace and lives.”

Additionally, he spoke to the value industry oriented and opportunistic courses like CEE 9510 Engineering Planning and Project Management add to the MEng curriculum at Western.

Kevin McGuire, P.Eng.,an instructor of CEE 9510 at Western, is an avid supporter of the PMPC.

“The opportunity to test your presentation skills in a safe, academic, yet competitive environment brings other useful lessons to the forefront for students,” explained McGuire. “Students learn that it is not enough to have the best idea - you must also be able to sell it. Many good ideas fall by the wayside in the work place because the individual could not sell it to their peers and managers.”

McGuire advises students to participate in these types of events because they serve as an excellent transition between academic life and the workplace. 

For this competition, each team was required to submit a paper focussing on a recently completed project. In this analysis, teams were asked to describe six to 12 lessons in single statements, providing an explanation of how each lesson could be carried forward when managing future projects. Papers were judged and shortlisted candidates were invited to present to a panel of judges.

Western’s team was among six groups selected to compete in the presentation finals. The audience included approximately 100 Project Management Institution (PMI) certified project managers, who voted to select the winners.

Winners of the PMCP did not walk away empty handed. Finalist awards of $250 were given to the top six teams competing in the presentation round. Second place received $500 and first place was rewarded a grand prize of $1500.

“This particular competition consisted of making a PowerPoint presentation from an assignment you had already completed, and submitting it for consideration to a committee,” explained McGuire. “If selected for the shortlist, you gave a short presentation before getting a chance to converse with project managers from the audience. How often do students get an opportunity to be paid for their homework while making valuable contacts in the business world?”

McGuire encourages all his students to compete at the PMCP and spoke to the success of the Western University team.  

“The subject matter of their presentation was engaging and interesting,” said McGuire. “Our team stood up well under questioning and answered a number of unscripted audience questions with confidence. They also made numerous valuable connections in the industry and nicely padded their résumés.”

Learn more about the Project Management Paper Competition.