020 Interview with NIH Branch Chief

SHThis week I’m pleased to share my interview with Stephanie Hixson, PE, LEED AP with you.  She is a Branch Chief for the Laboratory Branch in the Division of Design and Construction within the Office of Research Facilities at the National Institutes of Health [NIH] in Bethesda, MD. She supervises a group of project officers that focus on the design and construction of laboratories and research facilities.

[Q] What project management tools do you use to keep projects on schedule and on budget?

[A] We have internal systems for tracking project budgets and tracking our schedules primarily with Microsoft Project for the smaller projects and Primavera for the larger projects as well as for master scheduling (all active projects). Continue reading

015 Interview with Wake Technical Community College CIP Manager

TManningLast week I sat down with Todd Manning PE, CCM, PMP, PEM, LEED AP for lunch and to talk about project management. He supervises the facilities project managers in the design and construction department at Wake Tech Community College (WTCC). His group is currently managing over $200 million worth of projects on the multiple WTCC campuses. 

[Q] How does WTCC manage projects in each of the design and construction phases? Is there a project manager (PM) for the design phase that hands it over to a construction manager during the construction phase? Continue reading

008 Interview with Corporate CIP Project Manager

Untitled-1Kent Mitchell is a registered architect and project management professional with over 28 years of experience in the design and construction industry. He has worked in both the public and private sectors and is currently a business lead and senior project manager of capital projects for Syngenta.

[Q] On your latest project, how many stakeholders do you have?

[A] I have a lab project in design phase that I have +/-50 stakeholders.

[Q] What is Syngenta’s process for hiring consultants?

[A] Our procurement business partners issue Requests For Proposal to pre-qualified AE teams.  We would generally short-list the firms and invite 2 or 3 firms to interview.  The Syngenta selection committee might consist of 6 or more cross-functional decision makers who vote on the firms.  The selection is based on multiple criteria, not just low bid.  Continue reading

007 Stakeholders- A Resource or a Constraint?

Given and Find

menilScott, Julie, and I looked at our next homework problem, in the grey study room of the Engineering Sciences Building. The problem: “The velocity of a particle undergoing rectilinear motion is v(t)=3t2+10t m/s. Find the acceleration and the displacement at t=10 s, if so= 0 at t=0.” It was 1990, and we were in Engineering 101. As studious freshmen, we focused on the task at hand, as we had been taught, we wrote down Given, left a large empty space and then wrote Find. Under Given, we wrote down our parameters (Newton’s laws of motion) for helping us to solve this problem: acceleration is the derivative of velocity over time, and the integral of velocity with respect to time is displacement. Voila, we solved for the answer and finished our homework so we could go get a drink…of Pepsi, we were under 21.

Working with Constraints

Unlike Newton’s laws of motion, the stakeholders and the guidelines that serve as design parameters (givens) for campus projects are not as straight-forward. And, as you can imagine, Continue reading

005 Project Milestones & Marketing Strategies

image-for-post-005With the help of my parents, my first job was delivering The Dominion Post, in Westover, WV. I earned a fair amount of money for my candy habit, and had enough left over to buy a piano. If I knew then what I know now, I would have saved a lot of money on dentist bills and I’d own Microsoft stock instead. While I was a consultant I often thought the same thing, if only I’d known about the project before my competition, I could’ve positioned myself better to be on the winning team. Some of you may be aware of the milestones in the planning process and some of you may not, but knowing the milestones described below may give you a leg up on your competition.

01 Master Plan

The creation of a campus master plan is the twinkle in the eye milestone of a project. The campus Owner (University, City, or Corporate entity) will hire an architectural planning firm Continue reading

002 Folder Structure for Design and Construction Professionals

I walkemain folder copyd into Pat’s office and since he was on the phone, I motioned to him that I needed the sister drawing to the one I had in my hand. We were working together on a project and he was the PM. I looked down at his desk, which was hidden under  haphazardly placed 18”X24” drawing sheets. The sheets were frayed and had been walked on, and were covered with red-lines from his fat no. 9 Pentel pencil. He tucked the phone under his chin and put the pencil in his mouth, swiveled around in his chair, lifted a stack of papers a few inches off his desk and pointed with his nose to the drawing that I needed. He’s worked this way for 35 years and is regarded as a structural engineering genius. Somehow chaos works for him. Continue reading