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Academic Partnerships

PPI and their academic partners, Cal Poly and Texas A&M, share updates on their programs to bring PPM (Project Production Management) and Operations Science to the professional education world.

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Gary Fischer, PE, Executive Director of PPI highlights the latest partnership events with Cal Poly and Texas A&M, to bring PPM and Operations Science to the professional education world. The partnership with CalPoly is focused on the general building sector, with Jeong Woo, the head of construction management at Cal Poly, leading the effort. Jeong holds a master’s in construction management and a PhD in Architecture from Texas A&M. The partnership with Texas A&M is focused on the industrial sector, and is led by Ivan Damnjanovic, the director of engineering, project management at Texas A&M. Ivan has extensive experience in engineering risk, safety analysis applied to projects in all kinds of industry segments.


[00:00:00] Jeong H. Woo, PhD: Good afternoon, everyone. Do you hear me?

[00:00:05] Gary Fischer, PE: Well, we can hear you. Let me share my screen and get this thing going. All right, so I’ve got to open it up real quick and introduce these guys and then we’ll turn it over to them and let them talk about what they’re, do, what they’re up to. So, as we mentioned before we gave the one-minute advertisement for what we’ve got going on with Stanford around the modern construction program,

[00:00:29] Gary Fischer, PE: again, if you want to change your company rapidly, contact either me or Martin and we’ll work with you. So we have two other efforts. One is with Cal Poly. And it’s really focused on the general building sector. And, Jeong is going to talk about that. We have another with Texas A&M that’s focused on the industrial sector.

[00:00:51] Gary Fischer, PE: And again, Ivan is going to talk about that. So let me introduce these guys. In fact, I can stop sharing because they’re on the screen and you don’t need to see a picture of them. There we go. Okay. So Jeong Woo is the head of construction management at Cal Poly. He has a master’s in construction management and a PhD in Architecture from Texas A&M.

[00:01:10] Gary Fischer, PE: I didn’t know that until I read your bio there; I didn’t realize it was a connection we had between you two. He has consulted with and worked for a wide variety of construction and design firms, comes well qualified for doing his job in a fantastic partner with PPI, Ivan Damnjanovic.

[00:01:31] Gary Fischer, PE: I practiced that so many times, Ivan. Anyway, as a director of engineering, project management at Texas A&M, he has extensive experience in engineering risk, safety analysis applied to projects in all kinds of industry segments. Again, wonderful partner and we are enjoying working with both of you.

[00:01:50] Gary Fischer, PE: So I’m going to turn it over to each of you to talk about what you’ve got going on at your universities, and we’re going to start with you, Jeong.

[00:01:57] Jeong H. Woo, PhD: All right. I’m going to share my screen. Hope you guys see my screen here. We can see. All right. Yeah. At this point, I should say howdy because you mentioned the Texas A&M connection here.

[00:02:14] Jeong H. Woo, PhD: So thanks. Thanks everyone for having me today. My name is Jeong and I’m in the construction management department. Had a little bit of an introduction to Cal Poly. I know some of you already have some connection with us, but Cal Poly is an education-focused institution located in the midway between San Francisco and L.A. and maybe three hours driving away from San Francisco and a beautiful area.

[00:02:45] Jeong H. Woo, PhD: And if you didn’t have a chance to visit, yeah, please take a look at it and the Construction Management Department. So here we have a college of architecture and environmental design. Have a, having five different departments: architecture, construction management, architecture, engineering, landscape, and city and regional planning.

[00:03:09] Jeong H. Woo, PhD: And CM is one of the departments and has about 600 CM major students here and most of our students know, after graduation, they’re looking for a professional career path in the construction industry, and some of the students are going into graduate programs as well. All right, so quickly I want to introduce how we developed a relationship with PPI.

[00:03:41] Jeong H. Woo, PhD: I just want to say it has been a great – and just the two words – a synergistic collaboration. So when I, when we, right before the Covid, one of our faculty members, Paul Redden, invited several speakers from PPI and Chevron, and James, Craig and Wayne Crabtree visited Cal Poly campus and gave a lecture about PPM and,

[00:04:14] Jeong H. Woo, PhD: at this point, and as students didn’t know about what it is, and yeah, our students gave me really great feedback about their guest speaker sessions and they told me that they wanted to learn more. And matter of fact, my faculty, Paul, is really having a great, rich experience of PPM when he worked for Chevron.

[00:04:41] Jeong H. Woo, PhD: So yeah, so we made a connection and intentional action plan to develop collaboration with the PPI. So we had several meetings at Cal Poly at San. Luis Obispo. And so we went up to their office in San Francisco, and as you can see in the picture, we exchanged a lot of ideas about how to disseminate a body of knowledge of PPM and how to help our students, how to educate the future generation of the construction industry.

[00:05:17] Jeong H. Woo, PhD: And basically, so what we discussed was really the foundation of the certification program we are offering right now. In the meantime, PPI and some other professionals associated with the PPI frequently visited Cal Poly to give a lecture and support student projects. And also started working with the faculty members.

[00:05:44] Jeong H. Woo, PhD: So, when we started this journey poor Redin was one of just the one faculty that knew how to teach PPM in the classroom. And now we have three and four faculty members teaching PPM and they also teach in the certification program we are offering right now. And ultimately the major goal of this collaboration is to provide the training and education opportunities for industry practitioners who are passionate about improving their workflows and getting the better products throughout their projects.

[00:06:28] Jeong H. Woo, PhD: I just wanted to introduce this. So probably a couple of hours ago you watched the presentation from my former student Corey, so it was an amazing experience to work with her. And also, yeah, this is a great example of how we intentionally teach the consumable PPM and our future generation go out to the industry with the proper mindset to improve their project and workflow.

[00:07:08] Jeong H. Woo, PhD: We also have strong industry connections in the construction industry throughout the country. And we started talking about the innovative concepts infused into the industry. One of the concepts is prefabrication and we were lucky to have one of the alumni, Ray B. He’s a national prefab leader at DPR.

[00:07:36] Jeong H. Woo, PhD: And also along with Ray, we invited several alumni who are dedicated to implementing prefab in their organizations. And as we visited those people, the main conversation was basically how to change the traditional construction mindset to a manufacturing and factory mindset. And then how to introduce the concept of DFMA and how to use concepts and skills and techniques over VDC to make more construction processes, more manufacturing processes.

[00:08:16] Jeong H. Woo, PhD: And how to integrate their self-performing work crews and basically to minimize the waste. And we realized that the concept of prefab and PPM is really sharing a lot of common theories and fundamentals here. So that’s why we discussed how to introduce the concept of PPM and basically the prefab; it was the perfect vehicle to introduce PPM to our construction professionals.

[00:08:51] Jeong H. Woo, PhD: So rather than just coming from the oil and gas industries and original or mega size projects, our industry partners of Cal Poly are mostly from the vertical construction industry. But it didn’t matter. So, so we can, we were able to develop the course curriculum and also learning modules for construction partners to change their mindset basically.

[00:09:23] Jeong H. Woo, PhD: It is more about changing their mindset from construction to manufacturing, factory mindset. Leading to a different attitude and different behaviors and also different results. So key concepts here, as you see productization and how to move work from onsite to offsite and introduce different types of manufacturing type production methods and also discussion about the FMMA.

[00:09:55] Jeong H. Woo, PhD: The picture here is from our second session of the industrialized construction certificate program, which happened in June in San Luis Obispo. We had about 20 participants there. It was an excellent class and we had a lot of great feedback from the participants. Here one of the participants had a chance to have a feedback review with

[00:10:28] Jeong H. Woo, PhD: Thomas Will, project executive of Rosendin. As you know, Rosendin is one of the leading electrical contractors in the country, and Tom is the leader of prefab efforts on behalf of Rosendin. And this is what he wants to share about our certificate program. And I think that it should play well.

[00:10:56] Jeong H. Woo, PhD: Another

[00:10:57] Ivan Damnjanovic, PhD: benefit that I really got out of the industrialized construction course was a better understanding of how to physically lay out a fabrication facility. Just better understanding that you have control over how you want that system to operate and make sure it’s tailored to really what you want your end result to be.

[00:11:12] Ivan Damnjanovic, PhD: We’ve also seen a lot of great benefits out of taking some suggestions from that and engaging in 4D modeling of our fabrication efforts, not just modeling the component that will be fabricated, but actually showing the progress over time of how the different parts come together, how the workers move around that it gives us a better understanding of the physical layout of space we’ll need, and lets’ us, you know, sort of just set up our prefabrication facility that much more

[00:11:37] Jeong H. Woo, PhD: efficiently.

[00:11:40] Jeong H. Woo, PhD: All right. So basically what he shared was his learning experience, developing a further understanding of how to lay out their prefabrication facilities and also on site prefabrication facilities as well. So, as you know, the construction site. Normally, you have a constant stream of materials and equipment delivery, and then a lot of different labor crews come in and out.

[00:12:12] Jeong H. Woo, PhD: And also there is always the need of quickly fabricating the certain unit of Production to be installed in a more efficient way. So that being said, you know, having the skills and mapping the layouts of the fabrication facility or fabrication area where there are no walls or no power, but they can effectively manage the drop site and then organize the fabrication area so they can improve the workflow of installing the required products on time.

[00:12:59] Jeong H. Woo, PhD: So, that being said, I want to give you a little more information about the certification program we offer at Cal Poly. The main theme is “industrialized construction done right,” so the program has three different tracks. So first track, “the offsite fabrication done right,” and second track, “supply chain done right,” and third track, “designed for off site fabrication

[00:13:30] Jeong H. Woo, PhD: done right.” So as you see, those three tracks share the same basic courses and also they have different application courses. The main important thing is that those at each track have an opportunity to pursue the capstone project based on their project going on or coming up in the future.

[00:13:59] Jeong H. Woo, PhD: So in that way, the instructors and participants can work together to develop a case study on their own projects. So each of those tracks then lead to PPM master certificates. So at this point, we provided the level one and basic course of track one, and we are planning to offer other basic courses of track two and three in the coming year, 2023.

[00:14:31] Jeong H. Woo, PhD: So I see that our industry professionals’ partners have a high level of interest. So we want to see all of you at our certification program. And like I said, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, is a beautiful place to visit as well. So if you want to learn more about PPM and also visit San

[00:14:55] Jeong H. Woo, PhD: Luis Obispo, please let me know. So this QR code is for a program course we’re going to offer at San Luis Obispo, so please capture it if you want.

[00:15:10] Gary Fischer, PE: All right.. Very good, Jeong. Thank you very much. Thank you. Mm-hmm. Stop sharing and we’ll switch too…

[00:15:15] Ivan Damnjanovic, PhD: Okay.

[00:15:16] Jeong H. Woo, PhD: Sounds good.

[00:15:19] Ivan Damnjanovic, PhD: Okay. I started in the same way, and this is kind of an internal thing to Texas A&M students, we say, “how,” and the professors say, “how,” and people say, “how” to you. So in case you’re not familiar and see and hear somebody saying howdy to you, it’s probably an angle. Anyways today I’ll present the program that we have established in collaboration with the PPI.

[00:15:50] Ivan Damnjanovic, PhD: It’s reinventing the way we build. It’s a project production method certificate program, and mainly focusing on the industrial ENC sector. My name is Ivan and I am a professor at Zachry Department of Civil Engineering. And I also direct a college-wide effort in engineering project management.

[00:16:14] Ivan Damnjanovic, PhD: That is an effort that extends beyond different departments. And it’s currently housed in the Department of Multidisciplinary Engineering. Let me kind of give you a little bit of overview of how we ended up here because this engineering project management effort is kind of unique to Texas A&M and to the best of my knowledge there may be only one or two programs with the similar initiative, however, they’re housed in one of the departments, not an umbrella program, as we have developed.

[00:16:50] Ivan Damnjanovic, PhD: So let me give you a brief overview ofTexas A&M Project Management. It started in 2001, about 20 plus years ago, and was initiated by the gentleman with his wife. You can see it over here. That is Mr. “Corky” Frank. Mr. “Corky” Frank was an Aggie, obviously, but he was also

[00:17:22] Ivan Damnjanovic, PhD: CEO and president of Marathon Oil. Like many Aggies, he has gone from a field engineer in New Mexico working essentially for meals, to being a truck driver for the same company, Marathon Oil, all the way to becoming a president and CEO. Along the way, he was a very successful project manager and very early he recognized the benefits of having a project management skill set.

[00:18:01] Ivan Damnjanovic, PhD: So Corky came to Texas A&M and asked if we could start a program that will enable every engineering student to have a background in project management. So in 2001, Corky established a chair in engineering project management. And the first, actually, a holder of the chair was the gentleman to the right, professor Dr.

[00:18:24] Ivan Damnjanovic, PhD: Kenneth Rek. Ken was, at the time, retired from a company called Stone & Webster. Many of you might know the company dealt with nuclear power plants, and it was one of the largest contractors in that segment. And Ken was vice president for engineering and president of Stone & Webster Technology.

[00:18:52] Ivan Damnjanovic, PhD: He was also an MIT professor and he was essentially a person who was given initial charge in 2001. I was a graduate student and when I graduated in 2006, my main interest was in analytical aspects of project management in operation science, and my focus was on risk and variability and uncertainty in general and using mathematical patience for that.

[00:19:26] Ivan Damnjanovic, PhD: Ken was the one who essentially advocated for A&M to hire me, and I took charge in 2006 of the program. Right now the program has about 400 students enrolled for the minor in engineering project management, and we have about 50 graduate students enrolled as well. Just to kind of give you an idea, Texas A&M College of Engineering has anywhere between 22,000 and 25,000 students involved.

[00:19:56] Ivan Damnjanovic, PhD: Okay? So there are a lot of students. A pool of students that are capable of taking this essentially minor program. So because I have that background in analytical methods for project management, when Gary approached me to talk about project production methods,

[00:20:22] Ivan Damnjanovic, PhD: I was pretty happy about it. And we had long discussions about how we promote more analytical thinking. Some of the previous speakers have mentioned this already, that, you know, our discipline is mainly based on experience. And experience. Learning from experience can be very costly. Okay. And we don’t need somebody to

[00:20:45] Ivan Damnjanovic, PhD: make a lot of mistakes. In order to learn things, we can actually teach this. So the mistakes are not being made to start with. So I was really happy about that. So talking to Gary, we decided to go on and establish this program, but let me kind of, before I start talking about going, give you a little more

[00:21:04] Ivan Damnjanovic, PhD: information about engineering project management. So we have a couple of courses in engineering project management. One is the seminar course where we actually visit companies and we have already done some project production on the undergraduate level. We had a class of about 70 students at the time that visited Chevron headquarters.

[00:21:26] Ivan Damnjanovic, PhD: in Houston. At the time Jim, Greg and Joe Gregory were hosting us. And we had a whole project production game going on and a bunch of Aggies have experienced the project production game. So these are some of the photos from the seminar series. We also are very active internationally.

[00:21:53] Ivan Damnjanovic, PhD: We have two major partners in engineering project management. One is in Trieste in Italy, where we worked with a company called Dale Ecker. It’s in San Francisco. You may be familiar with them. It’s a company called Deal. They do segmental post tensioning type of work. So the skyway of the

[00:22:20] Ivan Damnjanovic, PhD: Oakland Bay Bridge. San Francisco- Oakland Bay Bridge is actually done by them. Dallas High Five as well here. So anyway, we have established some collaboration there and we take engineering project management students there. That’s to your left. And to the right is Paris. We also have a partnership with ASTP.

[00:22:40] Ivan Damnjanovic, PhD: We have the premier institution for civil engineering and project management in general. So they send three or four students yearly to Texas A&M and we actually go there and bring our students and have joint classes in Paris as well, so those are our studies abroad. Now let me kind of go over the basic idea behind the Texas A&M PPI certificate.

[00:23:10] Ivan Damnjanovic, PhD: So the idea is to have several courses that focus on project production methods that can be taken individually or they can be stacked to provide necessary depth in implementing some of these methods on the projects that many of the industry participants are facing.

[00:23:30] Ivan Damnjanovic, PhD: So it is not only one course, but a series of courses. The emphasis here, as I mentioned initially, is on the industrial engineering and construction sector. Unlike the previous presenter from Cal Poly where he talked about the construction sector, we are looking into a slightly different sector.

[00:23:52] Ivan Damnjanovic, PhD: We provide continued dedication hours in addition to the certificate that has been issued by Texas A&M. And the design of the program was also considering engaging instructors both at Texas A&M and the PPI on a capstone project for a specific project or a problem the participants are facing.

[00:24:15] Ivan Damnjanovic, PhD: So the focus is not only on the theoretical aspect, but a hands-on approach where you can have a mentorship model where the instructors and the participants can work to find the solution to a problem. This is an overall framework of how certificates are implemented. The next generation project management class is the initial class introductory.

[00:24:44] Ivan Damnjanovic, PhD: We had this class implemented last month in Houston. So we have, we have started with this road trip, so to say. These classes will be offered sequentially. And I’ll mention, I’ll talk about the schedule in just a little bit, but what you can see here is again, having an opportunity

[00:25:11] Ivan Damnjanovic, PhD: for our participants to take a general class and then focus on individual problems they are facing. To finalize with the master certificate. So if you think your work is more focused on engineering design, there is a track for that. If you’re focused more on supply chain and procurement, there is a track for that.

[00:25:34] Ivan Damnjanovic, PhD: If you are looking at the general construction and interaction between engineering infrastructure, you go on the construction track. This is followed by the opportunity to take capstone. And this capstone project, again, as I mentioned, will be done through a mentorship model where PPI and Texas A&M faculty will provide instruction.

[00:26:02] Ivan Damnjanovic, PhD: Finally there will be a level three PPP master certificate, which will essentially kind of wrap up the competency skills of the participants to not just implement but fully understand the mechanics behind the project production method. So this is just the flier for the first course we had in Houston.

[00:26:33] Ivan Damnjanovic, PhD: Some photos from there. You can see we had about three tables of five participants working on the airplane. Where we assemble the airplane. Okay. And you can also see the instructor, I believe that’s James over there. How do we go forward? So this is a tentative timeline for offering courses in 2023.

[00:27:05] Ivan Damnjanovic, PhD: So the idea is to offer first level, next generation, project management level one. Of course, a couple of more times before we go into the details of engineering, procurement, and construction. So the idea is that we are going to have another next generation project management course in Houston on February 16 and 17.

[00:27:36] Ivan Damnjanovic, PhD: That’s typically Thursday and Friday again. These courses, we tend to want to have them on Thursdays and Fridays for convenience of participants. The second one will be May 11 and May 12, also in Houston. And the next week we’ll plan to offer the following generat introduction course.

[00:28:00] Ivan Damnjanovic, PhD: We plan to offer more specialized courses in engineering, procurement and construction. Those will be on May 18, 19, 20; May 23 and 24; May 5, 25, and 26. In September, the courses are coming to extinction. So the idea here is to have a symposium where not only industry participants can attend, but also our students.

[00:28:32] Ivan Damnjanovic, PhD: So we plan to broaden the audience and change the format a little bit. There’s also a benefit to that, you know, there is a game on September 16 and, you know, being in College Station and not being on a, watching the game, it’s, it’s not something you want to do. You want to be there.

[00:28:56] Ivan Damnjanovic, PhD: So to experience a hundred thousand people in the stands cheering Texas A&M, so that’s something to see anyways. But the idea of the symposium format is that we will bring more people there and diversify a little bit of a crowd. Finally we plan to have another introductory course in November.

[00:29:26] Ivan Damnjanovic, PhD: November 9 and 10. Again, these are tentative dates. More details will follow. But the general principle is we plan to offer four introductory level types of courses and at least three specialized courses over the course of the year. Finally just to end up with broadening Texas A&M and PPI collaboration.

[00:29:53] Ivan Damnjanovic, PhD: Here we are planning to develop a new course on project production management and methods at Texas A&M. That will be both on undergraduate and graduate level. This will be within the College of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and multidisciplinary engineering. So it’s going to  be stacked.

[00:30:11] Ivan Damnjanovic, PhD: So enabling civil engineers as well as the students from other engineering departments to attend, we have established some preparation involving PPI and the Texas A&M engineering project management advisory board. In general we are acting as an advocate for advancement in engineering, construction, project management basins, scientific principles based on operation

[00:30:39] Ivan Damnjanovic, PhD: principle and we are looking to promote other research and education and promote collaboration on other research and educational projects for third party sponsors and organizations. With that I’ll end here. I might have one question. Yes, there is one question about the course in Houston. Can commercial construction people benefit from attending or would it be more beneficial to go to Cal Poly for the level one course?

[00:31:11] Ivan Damnjanovic, PhD: I think commercial people can attend in Houston if you are there. I think it would, the examples are more from industrial construction though, but general principles are the same. And especially the first introductory course puts a lot of emphasis on fully understanding the science behind the project production method.

[00:31:38] Ivan Damnjanovic, PhD: I hope that answered your question, Andres. All right.

[00:31:46] Gary Fischer, PE: Thank you. Can you stop sharing your screen so I can take over? I can. Oh, there we go. So we’re down to the home stretch here. All right. To give you back a little bit of time. Really appreciate that. Great partnership with A&M. And again we did, if the program in A&M is really targeted at the industrial sector, so the examples used are from the industrial sector.

[00:32:11] Gary Fischer, PE: The program at Cal Poly is targeted at the general building sector. So the examples used are from that sector, if you’re bilingual, it doesn’t matter.

Gary Fischer, PE: If you want to see examples from your industry, I’d suggest you go to either one or the other.

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Read Biography

Jeong H. Woo, PhD

Cal Poly

Jeong H. Woo, PhD

Cal Poly

Dr. Woo holds a Master’s degree in Construction Management and Ph.D. in Architecture from Texas A&M University. His undergraduate degree was earned in Architectural Engineering from Kyung Won University.

Dr. Woo is Department Head of Construction Management at Cal Poly.

Prior to that, Dr. Woo directed the Construction Management Program at the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) since 2014 and has served as a faculty member there for the past 12 years. He has been an active coach of winning ASC and DBIA regional and national competition teams. He has taught a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate CM courses including Construction Methods, Estimating, Scheduling, BIM, Project Management, and Senior Design-Build Studio.

He has consulted and worked for a wide variety of construction and design firms, most recently with Autodesk developing online curricula for Autodesk Design Academy. Much of his early career was spent as an estimator and project engineer for major international projects. Dr. Woo has been very successful at attracting major research and development grants, recently in the area of developing Net Zero Energy projects and Smart Grid innovations. He is an active scholar who has authored or co-authored more than 30 peer-reviewed publications.

Read Biography

Ivan Damnjanovic, PhD

Texas A&M University

Ivan Damnjanovic, PhD

Texas A&M University

Ivan D. Damnjanovic is Professor and the Director of Engineering Project Management program at Texas A&M University. Dr. Damnjanovic specializes in qualitative and quantitative methods for management of engineering and project risks as well as management of infrastructure and transportation systems. He has an extensive experience in engineering risk and safety analysis applied to projects from different industry segments including transportation, oil&gas, and technology development.