With little budget to spend, it was an easy decision to tap into wealth of talent among the students at Victoria University of Wellington. Third year engineering paper ENGR 301 requires students to work in teams, learning project management skills by working on real projects for real clients.
Project management skills taught include aspects of life cycle, requirements analysis, principles of design, project tasks and deliverables, contracts, feasibility analysis, cost estimation and cost/benefit analysis, project scheduling, critical path analysis, risk management, quality assurance, managing project resources, testing and delivery, maintenance, interpersonal communication, teamwork and project leadership.
Having managed several web projects myself - I knew what we were asking of them. In addition to this being the first time they had worked for an external client as a group, we wanted a website in the CMS Silverstripe - open source software developed in Wellington. They had never worked under these conditions before, and never used Silverstripe. It was a really steep learning curve, and they underestimated the project from the beginning. However, with their training coming to the fore, they continually adapted their planning to the challenges thrown up by the technical nature of the website, and were not only developing skills in Silverstripe, but also soft skills like communicating and managing clients expectations. There is something to be said for learning by doing - lessons taught by making mistakes and pushing your limits are deep and hard to forget.
What is being launched on the 22nd of August is just a first stage release, with additional pieces of the website going live in a second release in October.
We are really proud of the team and what they have achieved so far, and are looking forward to the second half of the project.