Project management professionals from as near as D.C. and as far as Australia came together May 4-5 to share best practices, discuss lessons learned, and discover the latest advances in the field at the University of Maryland (UMD) Project Management Symposium. More than 300 people were in attendance, the largest number in the event’s four-year history.

Hosted by the Project Management Center for Excellence in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), the Project Management Symposium featured over 50 technical sessions on a broad range of topics: people in projects, construction management, federal programs, agile/IT, integrated project management, risk and big data, education, and stakeholders.

“The diversity of the session topics allows professionals from all aspects of project management to gain insight into the challenges other agencies experience and what processes were implemented to overcome them,” said Andrew Van Der Stuyf, assistant director of project management for UMD’s Department of Residential Facilities and an alumnus of the Office of Advanced Engineering Education’s project management master’s program.

According to John Cable, director of the Project Management Center for Excellence, such diversity can be credited to leading minds eager to share experiences and dedicated partners.

“We are extremely pleased that interest in this symposium from both presenters and participants grows with each successive year,” said Cable. “I think it is a testament to practicing professionals’ thirst for substantive information.”

Three of the five technical tracks were planned in collaboration with sponsors, ensuring presentations targeted audience experiences and questions more effectively. The Federal Programs track was sponsored by the Project Management Institute’s Government Relations Office, the College of Performance Management sponsored the Integrated Project Management track, and the Construction Management/BIM track was sponsored by the Maryland Center for Construction Education & Innovation.

Topic diversity was also a hallmark of the featured presentations staggered throughout the two-day event.

Jeff Gravatte, CEO and owner of CADD Microsystems, kicked off things off with a discussion of technology trends affecting building design and construction project management. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Stephen Shinn took the stage during lunch to share strategies that aid project success in a changing environment, while Patricia Carper from Whiting-Turner later presented lessons learned from the $1.3 billion development of the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland.

Karl Wunderlich of Noblis and Lisa Blumerman, associate director for the decennial census at the U.S. Census Bureau rounded out the featured presentations on May 5. Wunderlich discussed his ideas for how to reduce risk and meet consumer demands as connected and automated transportation continue to transform vehicles and how they are used. And Blumerman offered attendees a detailed, behind-the-scenes look at the planning, coordination, and science needed to get an accurate population count every 10 years.

The breadth and depth of coverage featured at the Project Management Symposium, along with its proximity to the nation’s capitol, is what initially drove many to register for the event and encourage their colleagues to do the same.

“This conference is really important to the Census Bureau and to our certified program managers. The fact that it’s local, that it’s so thorough—it’s a great opportunity for continued development for our staff.” said Blumerman, who was joined by more than 50 additional Census Bureau employees.

For others, the success of the symposium stemmed from its unique blend of academic and practitioner presentations.

“The [symposium] is a great hub for scholars and practitioners to meet and share their latest technological/organizational achievements and cutting-edge visions,” said Southern Alberta Institute of Technology’s Shahab Moeini.

Regardless of what first drew them to the signature event, however, participants agreed that engaging speakers kept them motivated throughout.

“All the speakers have been great,” said Tracy H. Miles, program manager of National Facilities Services at Kaiser Permanente. “I thoroughly enjoyed the People in Projects–Motivation session, in particular Jocelyn [Davis]. I thought she was a very engaging speaker. She really tried to draw out situations that people could relate to and that she could involve the audience in.”

“The passion that everyone brings—the presenters and the conference goers—creates an inspiring atmosphere that fosters new personal and business relationships,” explained John Johnson, Softek Enterprises, LLC. “Quality learning and quality people keep me coming back year after year.”

Session presentations are available to download on the symposium website—simply click on the session name and look for the link in the left column. Videos of the featured presentations are also available through the individual speaker pages.

The fifth annual Project Management Symposium will take place May 10-11, 2018. Registration, as well as a call for speakers, will open in September.

Symposium to Feature ‘Federal Programs’ Track

For the second consecutive year, the Project Management Institute’s (PMI) Government Relations Office in Washington, DC will partner with the University of Maryland’s (UMD) Project Management Center for Excellence to sponsor the Federal Programs track during UMD’s two-day Project Management Symposium.   This unique partnership provides the opportunity to build a program of direct interest to government employees and the organizations that support government agencies.  With the goal of ‘Improving government efficiency and effectiveness through better project management’ in mind, PMI’s Government Relations Office assisted in the selection of session speakers and helped identify industry professionals willing to share their experiences and lessons learned.

Taking place May 4-5, 2017, at the Adele H. Stamp Student Union at the University of Maryland, College Park, the fourth annual symposium will include more than 50 breakout sessions and five keynote presentations, including ones from Lisa Blumerman from the U.S. Census Bureau, Karl Wunderlich from Noblis, and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Stephen Shinn.

In her current position as the U.S. Census Bureau’s Associate Director for the Decennial Census Programs, Lisa Blummerman will present on the topic of “Counting Our Nation: How Project Management Paves the Way,” during lunch on day one of the two-day symposium agenda.

Fellow PMP, Karl Wunderlich, will kick off day two of the symposium with his presentation “Creating a System of Automated and Connected Vehicles.” Attendees will hear Wunderlich’s view on how decentralized control of shared transportation system resources can be influenced to reduce risks and meet consumer demands.

Chief Financial Officer for NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Stephen Shinn, will tackle the topic of “Challenges in a Changing Environment” where he will discuss the cultural challenges project managers face when leading complex technical missions.  He will also discuss his change initiatives at Goddard to overcome barriers and provide a process for lasting change.

The Federal Program track will span the two-day event and feature presentations on a broad range of related topics.

As a member of the Program Management Office (PMO) of the Office of Financial Research (OFR), Project Management Professional, Jonn Lau will discuss Delivering Value in a Federal Government Start Up.  His presentation will describe the approach that the PMO uses to add value to the OFR as it initiates the programmatic approach to achieve OFR’s mission.  Challenges and methods for overcoming them, tools and processes, program management model, factors contributing to success, organizational and process changes, outputs and results, lessons learned, and the timeline will all be discussed.


Jessica Kunkle, Program Management Office Director in the Office of Safety, Infrastructure and Operations at the Department of Energy’s NNSA, will present “The Enterprise Program Management Office: Another Best Practice at the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).”  She will share the purpose, activities and results of the NNSA PgMO to date.

On Friday morning, May 5th, project managers working with federal programs will come together for a panel focused on Government Project Management in 2025 which will discuss the future of project management with the newly enacted Program Management Improvement and Accountability Act.   The group will also discuss how recent changes in agile procurement, agile project management, and digital transformation has made more effective project management vital to delivering public services.

Besides sessions focused on Federal Program, attendees will also have the opportunity to join sessions focused on a variety of other topics including: people in projects, construction management and building information modeling (BIM), agile/IT, integrated program management, risk and big data, education, and stakeholders. New this year, attendees who participate in a people in projects track will be able to choose from four specific focus areas including change management, conflict resolution, motivation, and negotiation.  The full two-day agenda for the event is posted on the Symposium website and includes a description of each session along with speaker information.

For those looking to maintain a PMI credential, the Symposium offers an opportunity to earn up to 13 professional development units (PDUs) in the PMI Talent Triangle.  Each presentation will specify which of the three talent triangle skills it will address.

Two additional keynotes from esteemed speakers will also take place throughout the symposium: Jeff Gravatte from CADD Microsystems and Patricia Carper with The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company.

“We are thrilled to be able to offer the project management community the opportunity to learn from so many industry professionals willing and eager to share their experiences and lessons learned,”,” said John H. Cable, director of the Project Management Center for Excellence. “Not only will attendees learn about big-picture opportunities in project management, but they will also hear from a variety of focus-area experts covering the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ behind many applications of project management today.”

UMD’s Project Management Center for Excellence is proud to announce that besides the Project Management Institute’s (PMI) Government Relations Office in Washington, DC, other symposium sponsors related to Federal Programs include CADD Microsystems, iTech AG, PMI Southern Maryland Chapter, Project Management Experts, the UMD Office of Advanced Engineering Education, and media sponsor PM World Journal.

Regular and one-day early registration rates are available until April 2nd. Government, military, non-profit, and Project Management Institute (PMI) members are eligible for a discount.  Register now while the early bird rates are still available!