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CASE STUDY

Project Management Education Soars at the


National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Why is project management education agency, see what other organizations are around the world. Currently, 100% of its
important to NASA? Just ask Dr. doing, and help NASA understand ‘what space missions and 80% of all science
Edward Hoffman, founding Director of we are doing right.’ To NASA, PMI is that missions involve collaborating with
NASA’s Academy of Program/Project & independent agency.” international partners. NASA’s R.E.P.
Engineering Leadership (APPEL). “NASA status enables it to build and maintain
lives in a project world. We have an As the years passed, project management proficiency with the international
US$18 billion budget, and every penny proficiency and leadership became standard of project management. “We
of it is spent on missions, which are more and more important across the look at PMI and the PMBOK® Guide
accomplished through programs and organization, as NASA faced increasing as the map of the ‘planet of project
projects.” pressure to “work faster, better, management’,” says Dr. Hoffman. “NASA
cheaper” and experienced substantial
NASA knows that project management reductions in workforce and budgets.
education is essential to its success. But To help them meet this challenge, the WHAT IS AN R.E.P.?
this was not always the case, as formal APPEL was founded in 1997 and today
A PMI Registered Education
project management education didn’t its project management courses, events,
Provider (R.E.P.) is an organization
begin until 1988, when NASA established publications and research activities
approved by PMI to issue
the Program and Project Management impact thousands of people both inside
professional development units
Initiative (PPMI). This initiative was and outside of NASA.
(PDUs) for its training courses.
launched as part of NASA’s response to
R.E.P.s have met PMI’s rigorous
addressing cultural and training deficits THE R.E.P. PROGRAM TAKES process requirements for on-going,
identified following the Space Shuttle FLIGHT high quality, project management
Challenger disaster. One of the Academy’s key decisions was training and education.
In order to form its training approach, to seek Registered Education Provider
(R.E.P.) status. “Our R.E.P. status was Courses offered by R.E.P.s are
NASA began by harvesting the
an indication to our leadership and pre-approved for contact hours in
experience of its most successful
practitioners that we were taking fulfillment of certification eligibility
engineers and practitioners. Then,
seriously the profession of project requirements, as well as PDUs to
it turned outward, looking for an
management,” says Dr. Hoffman. “It fulfill the continuing certification
international community and an
demonstrates our commitment to the requirements for PMI credentials.
independent standard of best practice...
and found PMI. field of project management and shows
The R.E.P. program has been
people that we’re doing things right.”
designed to enhance the ongoing
NASA AND PMI professional development of PMI
BOOSTING EFFECTIVENESS members, those credentialed
“It has been great working with PMI.
It’s been a partnership from the start “Doing things right” is vitally important through PMI and others in or
in a lot of areas,” says Dr. Hoffman. to NASA, as it operates in a world seeking to be in the project
“Senior executives wanted to know: where its success relies on its ability management profession.
‘what is happening outside the agency?’ to effectively manage increasingly
complex projects and teams composed For more information visit:
They wanted an independent authority
of specialists from multiple organizations PMI.org/REP
that would help them look outside the

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Project Management Education Soars at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

has a ‘map’ that works off of that, which As a result, NASA employees can obtain THE KEY TO THE FUTURE...
is adapted to our needs, to focus on their project management training ON AND OFF THE PLANET.
systems like engineering, material safety, directly from APPEL rather than going
NASA’s decision to become an R.E.P.
etc. But the broader concepts of project to an outside training organization.
is reflective of a deep belief that the
management still apply.” This provides employees with the
value of project management extends
convenience of in-house training and
far beyond its own operations. “As a
LAUNCHING CAREERS helps the agency cut costs.
public agency, we believe we have an
NASA’s R.E.P. status also benefits INCREASING SUCCESS educational responsibility,” Dr. Hoffman
those inside of NASA, as it helps them explains. “We see project management
gain and maintain a credential that According to Dr. Hoffman, close as a core competency. NASA believes
is highly valued in their workplace. association with PMI also enables that the big challenges that society is
“Being a project manager is the second NASA to continually improve its project taking on are in the forms of projects
most valued employment status, management practice by sharing and programs. In fact, the greater the
after astronaut,” says Dr. Hoffman. knowledge with PMI’s global community challenge, the more likely it is to be taken
“Many people want to become project of practitioners and academics. He on in the form of a project. If we are
managers, so they are looking for any praises the value of being able to “talk going to be successful in our society, we
advantage. They see the advantage amongst ourselves to discuss the need to be able to do projects.”
of being able to demonstrate their challenges of managing projects, and
knowledge and capability through a PMI what we can do to increase project Now in its 53rd year, NASA will continue
credential.” Currently, more than half of success. It helps us get real-time to reach for the stars... secure in the
NASA’s 131 courses are approved by PMI feedback as to what works and what knowledge that the APPEL and its R.E.P.
to offer Professional Development Units doesn’t.” status will help keep its feet firmly on the
(PDU) credit and contact hours for those ground.
seeking a PMI credential or certification.