Throughout the spring 2017 semester, a group of Finlandia University business students competed in THEProject, a collegiate project management competition sponsored by the Western Michigan Chapter of the Project Management Institute (WMPMI). This is the third straight year that FinnU has participated in the event. This year’s assignment was to develop a project plan to increase community farming in gardening. As their project focus, the students, or Team SISU as they were known, chose to focus on an expansion project for the Ryan Street Community Garden.
Beginning in early January, the students worked on developing their project idea under the guidance of two project management professionals (PMP): Paul Porras, a Senior Project Manager for Bravo LT and Ginger Connin, Manager of Product Engineering at Pfizer. Through weekly meetings via teleconference and Skype, the team worked to meet the various project phase deadlines. As a part of the project, the students developed a project charter, a WBS (work breakdown structure), a budget and a project timeline for expanding the Ryan Street Community Garden and opening a community gardening education center. The project culminated with the team traveling to downstate Hudsonville near Grand Rapids for event day on April 10. While there, they presented the final project to a panel of judges, participated in a reverse career fair and attended the top three team presentations.
Although Team SISU didn’t place in the top three, the hands-on experience the students gained was priceless.
“Although it was a ton of work and coordinating our busy schedules was a challenge, it gave us a real feel for what project management is about in real life,” said Jenna Ollanketo.
Much of this was learned in previous classes and directly applied to this experience.
“The group work was a huge part of the project,” senior Sara Martin added. “It was nice to apply what we learned in (BUS395) Project Management.”
WMPMI Vice President of Education Benjamin Todd said it best. “Our job is not to prepare students for something,” he said. “Our job is to help prepare students for anything.”
In addition to Finlandia’s Team SISU, there were eight other teams from six universities – Cornerstone University, Davenport University, Grand Valley State University, Hillsdale College and Michigan Technological University.
Team SISU would like to send special thanks to Mark Lounibos, Assistant Professor of English at Finlandia and member of the Ryan Street Community Garden Committee for his assistance and support on this project.
Tags: Andrew Martin, Benjamin Todd, Ginger Connin, Jenna Ollanketo, Katelyn Anderson, Mark Lounibos, Paul Porras, Ryan Street Community Garden, Sara Martin, Schwartzen Jarmond, THEProject, Western Michigan Chapter of the Project Management Institute