By School of Business student Cristine Gonzalez
School of Business students in the Project Management course (BUS250) this summer quarter were challenged to build a bridge out of newspaper. What they didn’t realize is that they were practicing some of the basic elements used when managing a project.
Grouped into four teams of two people, each team was asked to build half the structure in order to connect with another team’s structure to complete a full model of the bridge. Using limited resources including five sheets of newspaper, tape, scissors, measuring tape and only an hour to build, the assignment appeared impossible. The structure needed to be free standing, have a height of at least three inches from the base, and include the maximum span length and strength possible given the limited resources.
Although there were some determined and puzzled expressions during construction, project management skills such as defining, planning and communicating were applied in every group. Since each person envisioned different models, each group struggled to incorporate ideas and put together a complete gap analysis to create a paper bridge. The majority of students found team communication, planning and delegating skills to be most challenging. When the time allotted expired, the bridges were put to the test with span length measured and strength evaluated using Hershey kisses. Each bridge had very different features and success in meeting the requirements. Overall, students enjoyed the class project and felt better prepared to attack the challenge of project management. We are looking forward to a rematch armed with project management skills and are ready to build a better bridge!