Insight by The Citadel

Making a difference in communities through project management

The title program manager can be pretty abstract, but when done correctly, it can make serious changes.

This content is provided by The Citadel.

The title program manager can be pretty abstract, but when done correctly, it can make serious changes.

That was the case for Dr. Jeffery Plumblee, assistant professor in the Department of Engineering Leadership and Program Management in the School of Engineering at The Citadel. Plumblee’s humanitarian work in Caribbean and Latin nations shows how a well-planned project can make all the difference in providing important needs.

“There’s always a lot of moving pieces on these types of projects whether it’s political unrest, cost escalation, logistical constraints or just various project conditions that are rapidly changing. It’s useful to have a structured way of managing these project aspects,” Plumblee told Federal News Network as part of a video series sponsored by The Citadel.

One of Plumblee’s projects was to create a biodigestion system that used an anaerobic biological process to treat waste.

“You do your business in a normal toilet and the pipes from that go to a series of large bags,” he said. “These bags are seeded with microorganisms, and the waste sits in these bags. There’s this anaerobic digestion process that takes place and the byproduct is treated waste and methane. We actually treated the waste, but we were able to use the methane in the process to power the stoves in a local restaurant.”

Plumblee said as a project manager he needed to use that kind of innovative thinking in an area that didn’t have the kind of infrastructure people are used to in the United States.

“We take for granted things like clean water, power, sewer, easily navigable streets,” he said. “But, in a lot of areas that basic infrastructure is not in place, so it makes things much more difficult just to live on a day-to-day basis, but even more so to work on projects so we have to work with the local communities to find ways around that.”

Plumblee is now bringing those challenges to students at The Citadel. Students have the option to work on quality of life projects in developing communities and are able to manage their own project for experience.

Along with that opportunity, students have a more traditional classroom curriculum to work from.

“Our Master of Science in Project Management program is structured with four core project management courses, two leadership courses, and then four elective courses,” Plumblee said. “In those four core courses, they really focus on learning and applying principles and processes from the Project Management Institute’s Project Management Body of Knowledge.”

Students have a capstone project they work on as well.

“One of the unique aspects about our program is that capstone project,” Plumblee said. “Students get to develop their own project plan for a real-life or hypothetical project of their choice over the four core courses. They end up with this comprehensive capstone portfolio and this presentation at the end of it all. It serves as a great talking point for potential employers.”

Students can complete their Master of Science in Project Management in person and remotely.

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