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Teaching Students To Use Event Base Modeling To Evaluate Schedule Risk
The ability to create accurate estimates and build project schedules is an essential engineering management skill. The accuracy of initial project estimates have an impact on one’s ability to manage risk to cost, schedule and performance of a project. The problem with estimation accuracy is that we don’t always have perfect information during the planning stages and we have to base estimates on the best information at hand, using assumptions to cover the grey areas. As the project progresses we tend to learn additional information that allows us to revise estimate and strengthen planning. Projects bring risks, and subsequent cost, schedule and performance issues that are compounded by less than accurate estimates. Project estimating and scheduling is taught as part of the [Institution’s] undergraduate and graduate technical project management courses. However, test results and end of course feedback reflected that while the students were learning the mechanics of scheduling and estimating they did not necessarily have a full grasp of learning outcomes or of the importance of a well-developed schedule’s utility and information it contributes to management decision making. It became clear that for our instruction to leave the students with a solid knowledge of scheduling and estimating concepts requires a deeper understanding of the process and how estimate and schedule elements work together to aid in decision making. To improve mastery of course learning outcomes an event based spreadsheet simulation model was developed and introduced to the course which allows students to analyze the linkage between estimate and schedule elements and gain a fuller understanding of the estimating concepts as they relate to schedule risk.