Image of Professor Alejandro Romero-Torres

When the global pandemic forced the University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM) to suspend in-person classes in March 2020, Professor Alejandro Romero-Torres, like so many other teachers around the world, had to pivot quickly. How could he adapt hours of graduate coursework in project management for virtual delivery? 

Professor Romero-Torres, who holds a PMP certification as well as a Ph.D. in industrial engineering, is the 2021 winner of the PMI Linn Stuckenbruck Teaching Excellence Award, which recognizes and honors an individual faculty member for excellence in teaching project management. Currently, Romero-Torres is Director of the Laboratory of Innovative Practices in Project Context (PICoP) at ESG UQAM (the School of Management). PICoP partners with organizations, practitioners and society for the success of their projects. In addition, he teaches Project Management for MBA Students who may go on to lead business initiatives. As project sponsors or business leaders engaged in strategic initiatives, a grounding in project management principles is important to support positive outcomes. Romero-Torres recognized that leveraging PMI’s free KICKOFF tool for his curriculum would greatly benefit these students. 

Professor Romero-Torres was already an experienced virtual instructor before the pandemic—he teaches project management in three languages to MBA students in France, China, Mexico, and Canada. "Something I've learned with virtual tools is that I cannot keep doing the same things I've done in person," he said. 

By integrating KICKOFF into his course, Professor Romero-Torres was able to give students the opportunity to do hands-on work with a tool kit that introduces concepts and tools used in project management. KICKOFF enabled him to show students the basic stages in managing a project, with exercises such as determining risk, or selecting a team.

The students used the app to learn both agile and waterfall (predictive) project management, then Professor Romero-Torres supported this instruction with a real-world example; students were asked to propose a project that might benefit their community in some way. KICKOFF accounted for roughly 60% of the redesigned course content. Professor Romero-Torres stated, "I found that it was a great tool just to explore what project management is." 

Most students used templates from KICKOFF to prepare their assignments. They enjoyed the flexibility of being able to access it on their phones, tablets, or laptops. More importantly, they began to see the connection between the ideas Professor Romero-Torres was teaching and the tools built into KICKOFF. The tool kit, combined with Professor Romero-Torres’ real-world examples, enabled students to “kick off” their own projects. The students who were already familiar with project management found KICKOFF particularly easy to use, as it employs terminology and concepts from PMI's project management standards. 

Ultimately, more than 350 students used the KICKOFF app in Professor Romero-Torres’s course in the spring of 2020. After taking the course, some of the students indicated that they planned to start a Master’s degree in project management. 

As Professor Romero-Torres reflects, "It was a good opportunity to diversify my course, and to give the students another tool that would help them learn and practice the elements of project management.” 

Experience KICKOFF for yourself. In 45 minutes, this free course from PMI guides you through the basics of project management, so you can effectively launch your projects from start to finish.