The Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors—National Association Educational Foundation faced a tough question this year. How could its 40-plus hour, four-day Essentials of Project Management boot camp be successfully run online to avoid COVID-19 concerns? The answer was to partner with the professional crew at A. O. Smith University to provide the instruction over Zoom from its advanced video studio in Ashland City, Tennessee. This partnership allowed the first online PHCC Essentials class to run, with 18 project managers in attendance.
Kirk Alter, associate professor at Purdue University, is the lead instructor for the Essentials class. His teaching style is highly energetic and interactive, featuring constant dialogue and role-playing exercises with the attendees. The AOSU studio allowed Alter to move as he would in a physical classroom, teaching from slides or more often vigorously scribbling columns of numbers on a whiteboard to illustrate the impact project manager’s decisions have in terms of real dollars. All the while, staff in a control room were switching the Zoom broadcast view from camera to camera in the studio, allowing the attendees to follow the action. The attendees were required to keep their video on throughout the program, allowing a monitor in the studio to display a gallery view to Alter, facilitating “face-to-face” conversations.
After completing a full eight-hour day of training, attendees were tasked with completing intense project assignments in the evenings. They were additionally responsible for coordinating how they would conduct these meetings with their group members who were spread across the country. For many, it was the first time they had needed to create work product and develop a presentation with an entirely remote-based team.
Offering the class online eliminated travel and hotel expenses, reducing the costs for attendees. While A. O. Smith University supported the program through use of its studio, A. O. Smith and Kohler Company sponsored the class, further reducing the registration fee for attendees.
Offering the class online also helped to reduce the risk of travel during a pandemic. One attendee even learned he had tested positive for COVID-19 during the first day of the class. He was able to attend the entire program safely while isolating at home.
The next Essentials of PHC Project Management course will also be conducted online March 17-20, 2021. The class will also be hosted by A. O. Smith University and sponsored by A. O. Smith and Kohler Company.
Visit phccfoundation.org/essentials for more information and to register. The class size is limited, so early registration is encouraged.