Making a difference with Oracle Academy
The spotlight is on Okechukwu Nwadigo, Project Management Lecturer, School of Future Environments, Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand.
Auckland University of Technology (AUT) is New Zealand’s second-largest university, with more than 29,000 students, nearly 1,000 doctoral candidates, 3,400 staff, 195 professors and associate professors, and more than 100,000 alumni.
Its curriculum of social sciences, humanities, life and physical sciences, engineering and information technology, and creative arts was designed with the objective of providing students with core, transferable skills they can employ in job opportunities.
The School of Future Environments offers studies in the design, planning and construction of the physical infrastructure that surrounds us, whether high-density housing or commercial construction.
Okechukwu Nwadigo teaches construction and project management to undergraduate and postgraduate students in the Built Environment Engineering department. After receiving a PhD from AUT in 2019, Nwadigo stayed on as a teacher. In 2021, he began using the free Oracle Primavera P6 resources provided by Oracle Academy for his project management classes.
Oracle Academy: How did AUT come to be using Oracle Primavera?
Okechukwu Nwadigo: It goes back to my work in industry. Before moving to New Zealand, I was involved in Nigeria’s gas flare-down initiative, a program to reduce gas flaring from onshore/offshore oil fields. We used Oracle Primavera P6 to plan, control, and monitor that project, which eventually saved the country a substantial amount of money year over year, using the flared gas domestically. Later I used Primavera on other projects.
In 2016, I came to New Zealand to earn my PhD here at Auckland University of Technology, and upon finishing in 2019, the university asked me to stay on to teach construction planning. I reflected on what would be the most relevant tool for my classes and the clear answer was Oracle Primavera P6. For me it’s the best tool for bridging the gap between theory and practice. I recommended the software, got myself connected to Oracle Academy, and steered my department to becoming an Institutional member.
Oracle Academy: Was it easy to set up?
Okechukwu Nwadigo: Yes. I completed the formal application and we were granted the access. I then worked with the IT group, which deployed Oracle Primavera P6 on the university server, distributed to all labs teaching project planning. We installed student versions on their computers.
Oracle Academy: For which classes do you use it in teaching?
Okechukwu Nwadigo: I’m currently using Oracle Primavera P6 to teach project planning in two of the classes that come under the Built Environment Engineering syllabus of the School of Future Environments.
These classes, Construction Planning and Industrial Project, are targeted at third and fourth year students. The Industrial Project is a partnership between one or more students, a representative from industry, and the university. It is conducted over the two final semesters and involves the submission of a comprehensive engineering report.
Oracle Academy: After one year, what is your opinion of Primavera as a teaching resource?
Okechukwu Nwadigo: I selected Primavera to give hands-on practice on how to plan a project, and the results have been excellent. We only started in the first semester of 2021 and so this has been a trial year with me the only teacher. But our plan is to distribute Primavera P6 across our learning management system to all departments requiring project management resources, such as Architectural Engineering, Creative Technologies, and Construction Engineering Management. Primavera is now a recommended, university-wide software. I estimate that by the middle of 2022, some 250 students will be accessing it, compared to 70 in 2021.
Oracle Academy: What projects do you assign them?
Okechukwu Nwadigo: Because we are a department focused on the built environment, the first assignment has been to plan the construction of a two-story building. I present the basic principles and then have the students transform theory into practice.
For the two-story building, they get to understand contract management, how to develop the scope of work, and the project milestones. They develop the all-important Work Breakdown Structure graphically, and assign tasks, activities, and resources required. Primavera also helps them understand risk and uncertainty, and we use it to create WhatIf scenarios.
The building project introduces them to the world of construction managers and quantity surveyors, professionals who combine the technical understanding of how construction takes place with the commercial realities of the construction industry.
Oracle Academy: How do you see job opportunities for the students?
Okechukwu Nwadigo: There’s no doubt that the job opportunity is huge. Having Primavera P6 on their CV demonstrates knowledge of a remarkable skill that employers want, especially in construction management. We are lucky to have Primavera for free for classroom use through Oracle Academy.
I’m additionally the industry engagement coordinator for Built Environment at AUT, liaising with construction companies who frequently hire our students even before their final year exams. HR people from those companies know how powerful Primavera is in producing employable graduates.
As a Chartered Construction Manager of the Chartered Institute of Building, I meet professionals who at times are amazed to learn that AUT is using Primavera P6. How on earth did you get hold of it, they ask. And then they learn about Oracle Academy.
Oracle Academy: Brilliant! Lastly, we would love to know what interests you have outside of the classroom.
Okechukwu Nwadigo: Thank you. Well, on the sporting front my main interest is soccer – playing and watching. I also like to take in a boxing match from time to time, as a spectator!
Apart from that, I am a chartered member of several engineering associations such as Engineering New Zealand, the Institute of Chemical Engineers, Energy Institute, Registered Professional Engineers of Queensland, Australia, and others as mentioned earlier. So, I spend quite some time participating in their activities. I also read a lot around the themes of my research work and ongoing interest, which is the application of computer simulation, optimization, and problem solving in project management.
Thank you, Dr. Okechukwu Nwadigo, for your passion for Oracle Academy and for preparing your students to make a positive impact.