PM boot camp builds proficiency, delivers more effective program management

  • Published
  • By Mila Cisneros
  • AFIMSC Public Affairs

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas – The Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center continues to deliver the Department of the Air Force’s military construction programs more effectively and efficiently.

AFIMSC recently gathered civil engineers from across the organization, as well as partners in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command, for a three-day training event to advance its project management competencies to better provide mission-ready infrastructure across the enterprise.
“Air and Space Forces missions depend on our ability to deliver built infrastructure, and as we are taking a strategic approach to evolve the design and construction capabilities, we’re investing in our people, skills and processes to become more proficient in what we do,” said Col. Dave Norton, deputy director of the Air Force Civil Engineer Center's Facility Engineering Directorate. 

Project management is a staple to the Built Infrastructure Initiative (BII) line of effort, which is a key component of AFCEC’s broader Unity of Effort partnership initiative. The goal of UOE program is to make the organization more successful at supporting installations with capabilities they need to accomplish their missions.

AFCEC’s virtual training, hosted March 29-31, is an example of what initiatives are underway to optimize civil engineer and construction support to ensure a highly competent force effectively delivers high-visibility, complex and cross-directorate programs. 

The event, dubbed a “project manager boot camp,” is the first directorate sponsored training under the AFCEC line of effort to create a tailored education and training framework, to help ensure the workforce has the necessary tools and training to be fully proficient at their jobs. 

It is the first in a four-tier effort to establish a fully formed project management curriculum for the facility engineering directorate, the Air Force’s center for design and construction capabilities. 

“Project managers drive the execution of built infrastructure for air and space missions,” Norton said. “We were excited to provide this first-time educational opportunity for civil engineers to hone their skills and empower them to become more successful project leaders.”

The BII integrates teams throughout the directorate’s five divisions to deliver annual strategic MILCON; facilities sustainment, restoration and modernization (FSRM); natural disaster recovery; nuclear enterprise and technical services programs. 

From project programming through planning, design and construction, BII requires well-trained project leaders who understand how to meet mission needs through effective management of construction programs with multiple stakeholders. 

Over 100 participants responsible for MILCON, FSRM programs and other installation and mission support partners had the opportunity to learn from each other and build a stronger community of practice during the training. 

“A stronger and more capable project manager community is what we need to deliver resilient and sustainable facilities, allowing installations to provide world-class warfighting capability,” Norton said. 

Megan Robare, AFCEC project management subject matter expert for the technical services division, and her team took charge of developing a baseline for project management proficiency and presented focused topics over the three-day training. 

“Our intent was to have experts come together providing guidance on development, design and execution of projects,” Robare said. “We related what we are doing day-to-day to the theory of project management and its core competencies in order to become more efficient and effective in the field.” 

The training addressed different stages in the process such as project scoping, planning, programming and execution to meet mission requirements on-time, on-schedule and on-budget.  

There are many areas affecting project performance and success, and the training program was structured to enhance technical skills, understand responsibilities and what project managers need to consider to move the project from one stage to another. This included environmental planning, Air Force standard design and facility design codes, schedule compliance, cost estimating and risk management to coordination of the project closeout process. 

As timely acquisitions are critical to project delivery, the training was also an opportunity to engage with partners in the Air Force Installation Contracting Center, AFIMSC’s primary subordinate unit that manages and executes operational contracts and acquisition solutions across the Air Force. 

“Project managers are only successful with the expertise and cooperation of our matrixed AFCEC partners and stakeholders,” Robare said. 

AFICC briefers addressed the role of contracting professionals, challenges in the process and emphasized how important teamwork is to enable mission success.

“Through collaboration and communication, we build trust, accelerate change and stay on the same page as we jointly deliver our mission,” said Sally Kite, chief of construction for AFICC's 772nd Enterprise Sourcing Squadron.

“Connectedness and the relationship between organizations is key,” said Dr. Tim Sullivan, chief of AFCEC's technical services division. “Linking up with our contracting partners as soon as we see the project on the horizon is the way to ensure timely acquisition planning.”

The boot camp is the cornerstone of the new way of doing training at AFCEC to set its workforce up for success, organizer said.