Over the long weekend I met an interesting man and the conversation we had linked surprisingly well to what we are learning in Intro to Construction Engineering.

Charles was primarily a mathematics teacher, but he started being the computers teacher for a number of schools when computers and programing first started to be taught and used in schools (Charles did not give me a year, but he is 82 years old). At one point Charles was working at the high school in Kohler Wisconsin. As a job on the side he was hired as an assistant at the Kohler Company because he was familiar with the programing language. The task Charles was given was to work at PERT/CPM for several of the manufacturing processes of the company. When I heard this I did a double take: Critical Path Method – We just learned about this in class!

Charles told me that the project network and scheduling he did was not always well received by the engineers. Many of the engineers did not think that the new guy who taught their kids algebra would have valuable input for the manufacturing they had been doing for years. Charles kept up with the project networks and when they were required by an audit or government inquiry they were there, even if they were not followed.

I believe there may have also been some disconnect between the engineers and Charles’s team. If the engineers and other manufacturers were not involved in the planning, then they might think the PERT/CPM was too unrealistic and ignore the information altogether.

Charles brought up an interesting use for project networks and CPM that I had not though about before. He suggested that they could be used in almost any aspect of business, such as the accounting department or even human resources. This makes sense, because almost every task in business (or life for that matter) follows or precedes other tasks. The job is then deciding what projects really require the time and effort of making a project network. Some projects are complex and important enough to warrant the project network, but some simply are not.

The next time I make dinner, I just might make a project network purely to see if the critical path is what I expect.

Charles is the name used in this post for privacy.