PMIEF sponsors first Destination Imagination Project Plan Scholarship


21 June 2018

Written by Sylvia Rivera

Published inPM for Social Good

Topics Youth

Winning team of Destination Imagination competition

Rear, L-R: Kate Wagner (Team Manager), Maddy Wagner, Josh Combs, Dario Tagliaferri, Stephanie Maze-Hsu (Team Manager) Front: Emily Wagner, Daniella Tagliaferri, Maria Tagliaferri, Sylvia Rivera-PMIEF.

Learn how the DI and PMIEF partnership is opening doors for young people

Each year thousands of students from across the globe participate in Destination Imagination (DI) competitions. The Destination Imagination program is a fun, hands-on system of learning that fosters students’ creativity, courage and curiosity through open-ended academic challenges in the fields of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), fine arts and service learning. Participants learn patience, flexibility, persistence, ethics, respect for others and their ideas, and the collaborative problem solving process. Teams may choose to showcase their solutions at a tournament. Destination Imagination positively impacts more than 150,000 students in 48 states and 30 countries and is growing every year.

Since 2012 PMIEF and Destination Imagination partnered together with the goal of students using project management to enhance their team Challenges. This year, the collaboration focused on formalizing the submission of student project plans to include PM skills. By providing a PM framework and rubric for project plans, students are able to assess their project plans with the same tools and terminology used in the professional industry. 
The professional skills young people acquire throughout their time with DI are skills that will last a lifetime. During her almost 19 years as Team Manager, Stephanie Maze-Hsu attributes DI with student self-confidence, self-awareness, and perseverance under pressure. Students develop a deep sense of community, service, and appreciation for high quality work. These skills are further enhanced by applying PM skills like collaboration, risk mitigation and project plan revision. DI prepares students for college and career success by equipping them with progressive 21st century skills that are highly sought after by every industry.

The great advantage DI students have now is a new pathway to scholarship dollars. PMIEF has sponsored the first Project Plan Scholarship Award at the 2018 Destination Imagination Global Finals. As teams prepared their projects plans for competition they also submitted their plans for evaluation by an independent group of volunteers. Project plans were appraised based on the project management steps and process groups as described in Destination Imagination’s Roadmap Resource for Team Managers:

  • Identify and understand Challenge requirements
  • Define the team’s project deliverables (mini-projects or tasks)
  • Define the goals and success measures for the project
  • Evaluate resources, constraints, and assumptions
  • Explore the scope of the project
  • Consider deliverables and dependencies
  • Establish project managers for each deliverable or mini-project
  • Sequence, schedule, and set milestones
  • Plan and procure resources and materials
  • Assess risks and plan for prevention or mitigation
  • Monitor and control the project and its deliverables
  • Review the project and ensure the project meets the requirements of the Challenge and the requirements defined by the team

The top 5 teams were carefully selected and awarded certificates of achievement, with the winning team also receiving a $3500 scholarship.

It was this opportunity that caught the attention of Team Manager, Maze-Hsu of Hades’ Ladies and Zeus’s Cabooses from the Massachusetts affiliate of Destination Imagination in Andover, Massachusetts. When Maze-Hsu learned of the Project Plan scholarship she encouraged her team to step out of their comfort zone and submit a project plan for the award. Not knowing what the result would be, the team committed to the opportunity.

With a tight deadline for project plan applications, preparation for Global Finals competitive events, and traditional high school academic testing overlapping, the team put a plan in place to submit their project plan for the scholarship opportunity. They created an informal work breakdown structure with assigned roles and responsibilities for each team member to take on. Though reflection of their project plan is something this team has historically done automatically after a competition, synthesizing and formalizing their project plan added another layer of perspective that now took place prior to competition. The result was a 1st place win for their project plan and a 7th place overall finish in their competitive event. 

For team Hades’ Ladies and Zeus’s Cabooses, “Winning this (Project Plan Scholarship Award) is better than winning the whole thing,” Dario Tagliaferri.