PMI Delaware Valley Chapter and Young Men and Women in Charge (YMWIC) Foundation
Number of Hours Pledged: 16+
SDGs Supported: #4 Quality Education, #10 Reduced Inequalities
Summary: An education that includes science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) gives students the foundational tools for future innovation. And for students from economically disadvantaged and historically marginalized communities, it can also illuminate career paths that can help them escape the cycle of poverty.
Since 2007, the Young Men and Women in Charge (YMWIC) Foundation in Exton, Pennsylvania, USA, has been working to turn that vision into reality. Along with offering academic tutoring, mentoring and financial assistance programs, the foundation holds an annual Science Expo. Primary and high school students spend months preparing projects, which are then presented to judges.
It’s the kind of event that helps build excitement and engagement among the students. And some volunteers from the PMI Delaware Valley Chapter saw an opportunity to make it even better: As part of their pledge to PMI Hours for Impact, they leaned into their own creativity and problem-solving potential to address a long-standing concern with the expo’s scoring process.
The issue? The event’s cumbersome scoring system. To determine the winners in each of the five categories, expo judges had to fill out between 100 and 200 spreadsheets. That information was then copied and pasted into one master document to be analyzed. “It was a lot of wasted manipulation of spreadsheets,” says Stephan Rouyer, PMP, an IT project manager at Saint-Gobain.
So the team created a more user-friendly app that judges could download to their mobile phones. Judges would use the tool to enter scores and comment on students’ project boards and presentations, and then could review and modify the information they’d entered before submitting it. After that, the app would calculate the results automatically.
Earning Points With Stakeholders
Leading up to the 2022 expo, the team’s biggest issue was navigating all the change requests from stakeholders, says Rouyer, the app’s lead designer.
“Volunteer organizations don’t necessarily operate like corporate organizations,” explains fellow volunteer Ernest Dixon, project manager at Air Products. “So the team focused on communication and agile processes to adapt to constantly changing requirements.”
To keep everyone aligned on the project goals, PMI chapter volunteers held weekly video calls for several months to discuss the status of the app development and testing process, as well as the evolving requirements.
The team was prepared to deploy its scoring app at the Science Expo in March 2022. There, they quickly discovered another challenge: Expo judges weren’t accessible until the day of the event, explains fellow volunteer Steven Bistany, PMP, global contracting and enablement leader at Corteva Agriscience.
The solution: Bistany helped 35 judges download the app to their phones shortly before the expo began and then quickly explained how the tool worked. He also stayed on-site during the event to assist judges and answer questions about the new system.