DAHLGREN, Va. –
In December 2020, the first cohort of Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) business management employees received their project management certificate from the University of Mary Washington (UMW). The second cohort is set to complete the program in July 2021.
The certificate program is a result of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) established between NSWCDD and UMW in January 2020. The program aligns with the warfare center’s strategic goal of workforce development as part of its Strategic Plan 2020-2025.
“I absolutely believe that we have bright people in this program who are going to be our future leaders at Dahlgren,” Chris Clifford, NSWCDD business director, said in a 2020 statement when the program was first established. “Dahlgren has placed significant emphasis on advanced degrees. We have existing programs in place for graduate studies in engineering to include many technical avenues in system engineering. This program fills a critical gap in our business track in terms of an advanced degree for our business employees, so I really think this program is going to be very applicable to our folks working in contracting, financial management and business operations across the base.”
The 12-month program allows students to earn their project management certificate while applying credits to UMW’s Master of Business Administration. Among other subjects, students took classes on project management strategies, risk management and organizational behavior that developed skills directly applicable to their everyday work.
Students from both cohorts said they are already seeing a positive impact on their department as a result of the skills they matured and the knowledge they gained.
Nick Fronzo – AEGIS program director at NSWCDD – explained that project management was a core competency for engineers in management positions and went on to say that “managing a program of this size and having the academic discipline and knowledge of program management strategies is helping me keep track of everything we are doing, assess the health of what we’re doing and make appropriate adjustments.”
Most classes placed heavy focus on group work and, with representation from nearly every department on base in each cohort, Dahlgren employees in the program noted that the resulting interdisciplinary collaboration has allowed them to bring new perspectives to workplace challenges.
“Being able to work with fellow Dahlgren employees as teammates has been awesome and rewarding,” said Brandon Harper, business operations manager for the Integrated Combat Systems Department. “It’s been great to work with peers in…an academic setting where we’re able to utilize some of our past experiences in Dahlgren to implement change from places we hadn’t thought. Just getting the different perspectives from the different career fields that are in the program has definitely helped me.”
Nearly 40 business management employees across nearly every department at the warfare center have received or will receive their project management certificate as a result of the MOU with UMW. In fall 2021, a third cohort is expected to enroll in the program.