Dennis Lewis knows what his students are going through.
“I had to drop out after two years of college, and then it took me a long time to finally get to that goal” of earning a degree, says Lewis, chair of project management and logistics at Colorado Technical University.
It’s the same boat many adults find themselves in, and CTU specializes in helping those adult learners achieve their academic and professional goals. CTU offers flexible scheduling, evening and online classes so students can incorporate classes into their busy schedules.
Unlike a traditional university, CTU works on a quarter system rather than a semester system. As such, students could complete more course work in a year with CTU than with a traditional school.
“Our students kind of go in three general categories,” Lewis says. “There are those that are trying to get a career, there are those who are doing what we call career transition, and some that want to advance their career.”
Project management is often a field of study for those who want to move up in their careers, because it’s applicable to a wide array of industries.
“In theory, a project manager can take any discipline and manage a project,” Lewis says. “For example, I could build the next space station. Everyone would be saying I would be nuts, but in theory I have the tool kit to be able to do that.”
CTU offers a bachelor’s degree and three master’s degrees in project management, including a master of business administration in project management and a master of science in project management with a concentration in information technology.
Students of project management learn the intricacies of managing projects ranging from providing a service – Lewis likes to talk about a poop-scooping business – or creating a product, like the next must-have smart phone.
“A project is temporary; it has a beginning and an end,” Lewis says. “It also has a deliverable of a unique product. … The third part is what we call progressive elaboration. That means as you get into a project, it begins to unfold and you’re not really sure how it’s going to turn out, because it’s unique.”
Project managers have to coordinate three basic elements in order to successfully complete a project, Lewis says.
“Our triple constraint is called time, cost and scope,” he says. “Time is like your schedule, cost is like your budget, and your scope is what you have to actually accomplish.”
The degree program gives students a more in-depth understanding of all the variables and limitations that go into making a business run. Many of Lewis’s students end up in construction, information technology, aerospace and other specialties.
“Project management is not for the faint of heart,” Lewis says. “Most people say they don’t want to be a project manager because of the stress, and you have a little authority with a lot of responsibility.”
Most of the professors are certified Project Management Professionals who work in the field, bringing their real-world experience into the classroom. This gives students an education they can’t get merely by reading from a textbook. Like all departments at CTU, the project management department has an advisory board that keeps it updated on current trends and needs in the profession.
“We also have global accreditation from the Project Management Institute for our graduate program,” Lewis says. “I’m working on our undergraduate program, and so this year we should get approval for that.”
CTU tries to set students up for success by offering tutoring, academic advising, career advising and financial advising. The university is able to throw more of its resources toward helping students succeed than a traditional university can.
“We don’t have to worry about research and getting grants and all that stuff, so we focus our attention on the students,” Lewis says.
An open house for prospective students will be held 5:30-7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 3 at the CTU campus, 4435 N. Chestnut St. Attendees should RSVP by calling 719-598-0200.