Project Management Education: Once Upon a Time and Into the Future


A series of short articles on The Role of Academic Institutions in Educating and Training Project Manager

Article 2 of 6

By Helgi Thor Ingason and Haukur Ingi Jonasson

Reykjavik University

Reykjavik, Iceland

In our first article we promised to share with the readers of the PM World Journal our reflections and philosophy regarding project management education. That is, to share our thinking on project management as a professional discipline and on the role of educational institutions in promoting project management on a high academic level without compromising its practicality. In this second article we reflect on our own experience of designing and offering project management courses to undergraduate and graduate students.

In short, we regard project management—education, research, training and method—as a key success factor for human undertaking in all fields and sectors of society; and we believe that the modern university should do so too.

Just a few years ago, project management was considered a somewhat narrow and limited sub-managerial method used to plan and execute engineering undertakings, mainly military projects, construction, and product and/or software development. When one of us—the engineer—was an undergraduate in industrial- and mechanical engineering in 1989, project management was dealt with for two weeks as a small part of an elective course on management in general.

Obviously, this brief introduction only gave a shallow insight into project management; and gave a very limited insight into how to manage complex projects. This brief encounter was however enough to inspire a student majoring in engineering, and spark in him a curiosity about ‘human factors’ as ‘nice to know’ add-on skills to the more ‘need to know’ engineering skills required for the practical application of natural science.

Ten years later, the first whole course on project management was offered at the same university as a part of undergraduate studies in engineering. It was mandatory for students in industrial engineering, although only an elective for other engineering programs. The course focused on the project planning of single projects through careful assessment of requirements and the project environment. This course became very popular within the engineering program at the university.

Based on this interest and due to increased awareness and demand for training and education in project management a new graduate level course was developed. This course, which was an elective, had a wider perspective and aimed at showing graduate level students how project management is evolving towards becoming an overall management approach with a sharp focus on results and success, based on the deployment of sound engineering approaches and with state of the art management of people and context.


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Editor’s note: This series of articles is by Professors Helgi Thor Ingason and Haukur Ingi Jonasson at Reykjavik University in Iceland. Active researchers and educators in the field of project management for many years, they are the authors of Project Ethics published by Gower (UK) in 2013. See their author profiles below. 

About the Authors 

150215-pmwj32-new-INGASONHelgi Thor Ingasoniceland-flag


Reykjavik, Iceland 

Helgi Thor Ingason (b. 1965) holds a PhD in process metallurgy from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), MSc in mechanical and industrial engineering from the University of Iceland and a Stanford Advanced Project Management Certification from Stanford University. He is an IPMA Certified Senior Project Manager (B level).

Dr. Ingason is an associate professor at Reykjavik University. He is the head of the MPM – Master of Project Management – program at the university. The research fields of Dr. Ingason range from quality- and project management to system dynamics and renewable energy, production, transport and utilization, changes in the energy infrastructure and energy carriers of the future.

Dr. Ingason has reported on his research at conferences and in several reviewed conference and journal papers. He is the co-author of 6 books in the Icelandic language on project management, strategic planning, product development and quality management. He is also a co-author (with Dr Haukur Ingi Jonasson) of the book Project Ethics, published by Gower in January 2013.

Dr. Ingason was interim CEO of Orkuveita Reykjavikur (Reykjavik Energy) from 2010 to 2011. A co-founder of Nordica Consulting Group, Dr. Ingason is a management consultant and a recognized speaker. In his spare time he plays piano and accordion with Icelandic jazz and world music ensembles. More information on Dr. Ingason can be found on www.academia.edu. Information about the MPM program at the University of Reykjavik can be found at http://en.ru.is/mpm/why-mpm/. Dr. Ingason can be contacted at [email protected].


150215-pmwj32-new-JONASSONHaukur Ingi Jonassoniceland-flag


Reykjavik, Iceland


Haukur Ingi Jonasson (Cand. Theol., University of Iceland; STM, PhD, Union Theological seminary; clinical training in pastoral counseling, Lennox Hill Hospital; psychoanalytical training, Harlem Family Institute New York City) is an assistant professor and chairman of the Board for the MPM – Master of Project Management – program at Reykjavik University in Iceland.

He is also a psychoanalyst in private practice and a management consultant at Nordic Consulting Group ehf. As a consultant, his clients have included energy companies, banks, hospitals, the government and other public and private organizations. Dr. Jonasson is also a mountain climber and a member of the Reykjavik Mountaineering Air Ground Search and Rescue Squad. He is co-author with Helgi Thor Ingason of Project Ethics, published by Gower (UK) in 2013. Dr. Jonasson can be contacted at [email protected]