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THEProject 2012: The First Ever PMI Collegiate Competition

2012 April 25

The recent THEProject 2012 WMPMI Collegiate Competition was the first in PMI’s history!

As a volunteer during the one-year planning process and as a newly elected Director of Public Relations at the Western Michigan Project Management Institute, I spent April 9, 2012 at the special one-day finale.

What is THEProject?

THEProject 2012 logo

According to THEProject’s website, the purpose is to:

Develop business leaders by partnering with college students, community leaders, and Project Management Professionals to competitively tackle a commonly shared business challenge.

As a volunteer, I personally feel our chapter was trying to help individuals realize the importance of project management not only for businesses, but as a career choice. Everyone who served on our committee entered project management as an accidental career choice, not as part of our career path.

Who Participated?

What Did They Have to Do?

Students had to research what would be involved for a company to be certified by B Labs as a B Corporation. In this process, they had to produce artifacts that would meet project management standards and business executive standards.

event schedule

The schedule for Michigan's THEProject 2012 event

As luck would have it, the project picked for the students is currently being considered by the State of Michigan as a new form of corporation.

The website for THEProject 2012 contains more details about the project including the deliverables and a video of the project selected for competition.

Folks sitting around in a caffeteria

The Lesson’s Learned Lunch – college teams and PMP mentor

Students selling themselves to companies

Reverse Career Fair – Students Sell Themselves

Personally, I was surprised at how skilled and well prepared students were during the final presentations. Judges presented difficult business questions such as “Can you cut the price in ½?” or “What competitive advantage does this project give us?” Students were extremely persuasive in explaining why the executives should choose to move forward and some student teams got real companies to participate during THEProject.

folks presenting on stage

One of the many “executive presentations” to help students earn points towards the grand prize. Pictured here is a Team B from Kalamazoo College.

People milling about, being social

The WMPMI dinner was more of a social time for students and members to meet while the final scores were tallied.

The winning teams (Grand Valley University, Michigan Tech Team B, and University of Phoenix) shared $10,000 in prize money.

The Grand Valley University holding the first place novelty check

Grand Valley University took first place. The winners from left to right: Matt McNamara (GVSU team), Joshua A. Gerlick (co-Champion), Steven Williams (GVSU team), Dr. Jaideep Motwani (co-Champion), Iwona Gruszka (GVSU team), Benjamin Todd (Mentor, Amway), Eric Baumgarten (GVSU team), Ted Kallman (Project Exec.), and Jeff Moss (Dematic Exec.). Photo via the Western Michigan chapter of PMI.

Fred Keller's closing speach

Closing remarks - Fred Keller, one of the judges who said PM DRIVES companies and this was a great learning opportunity for all (including himself).

PMI members, you can learn more about this inaugural event in a video to be presented at PMI Global Congress – EMEA and in the July issue of PM Network magazine.

Update (June 7, 2012): Watch the video here:
  • Shorter video, recommended for the General Public. Watch the video on THEProject 2012 website.
  • Longer video, recommended for other PMI Chapters. Watch the video on YouTube.

College students are coming prepared to be project team members and apply project management principles to business projects. If your organization wants to improve PM skills, Advisicon can help.


Cindy Lewis is the Director of Knowledge Management at Advisicon, a Project Management consulting company with a global headquarters based in Vancouver, Washington. Advisicon specializes in training for project management best practices and the use of Microsoft’s project management tools like Microsoft Project, Project Server, and SharePoint.

Cindy heads up Advisicon's Midwest/Heartland Branch.