“Chief Supervisor” of Major Project Construction — Interview with Professor Ding Shizhao, Founder of Research Institute of Project Administration and Management2019-10-25 15:54

Fri, Oct 25, 2019

Interviewee: Ding Shizhao, Professor of Tongji SEM

Source: Tongji University News


This year, the national quality course Project Management created by Professor Ding Shizhao and his team from Tongji SEM was launched on APP Xuexiqiangguo, the learning platform of the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China.

In October 2018, the MOOC course Project Management created by this team won the first Excellent Education Award for Project Management of PMI China , which is another honor for the course after the Award of National Quality Online Open Course in 2017.

It is just another achievement incurriculum construction of Project Management at Tongji University. As the “Founder of Project Management Theory” in China, Professor Ding Shizhao has led his team to explore the virgin land of project management in the past 40 years, promoting project management to take root, blossom and bear fruit in China, providing indispensable and important support for the construction of national major projects.

The press center of Tongji University interviewed Professor Ding Shizhao whereby retrospect on the development of project management in China during the past 40 years, sharing the glory and passion of Tongji people jointly forging ahead together with the nation.

Introduce overseas advanced management theory, and explore the virgin land of project management in China

Looking back 39 years from now, in 1980, Ding Shizhao was sent by the government to Technische Universität Darmstadt in Germany for advanced studies and scientific research when he was in his 30’s. At that time, he was a teacher in the construction management teaching and research office of the Department of Management Engineering at Tongji University, which was once named Construction Organization Teaching and Research Institute and subordinate to the Department of Building Engineering.

In Germany, he came into contact with a completely different project management model, especially the core technology and the “three-control” objective management in the project management, namely “investment control, time control and quality control”, which aroused his keen interest. “These ideas were unheard of in China at that time.” He learned that this theory has been widely applied in engineering, which has played an important role in improving economic benefits and reducing resource waste.

“Such good management theory must be introduced to China.” With this belief, two years later, he returned to China with the true scriptures he had obtained and important books on project management.

Good theory must be known and benefit more people. Therefore, Ding Shizhao initiated a training program for project management. He took the lead in delivering all the lectures that he taught all the courses alone for the first 10-day training program. The training was well welcome among engineers, and the Three Controls theory in project management landed in China. “China began to have professionals who gained a real understanding of project management.” He said

In 1988, China started to explore the establishment of engineering construction supervision system. Ding Shizhao was invited to promote the system in the country and was responsible for organizing the training of the first batch of supervision engineers in China. He was also busy presiding over the compilation of relevant training materials.

Both the theoretical research of engineering management and its technical application need the support of information technology. In the construction of Shanghai Metro Line 1 in 1989, Ding proposed to adopt the Project Management Information System. With several graduate students, he worked with a software company to develop China’s first set of Project Management Information System, including investment control, time control, quality control, contract administration and other management modules. The system was applied in the project management consulting service of Shanghai Metro Line 1. He also took the lead in introducing the concept of engineering insurance into the subway project which provided a model of risk protection for subway projects afterwards.

Then Ding Shizhao received an invitation from Guangzhou Metro. With his graduate students, he compiled and completed the Overall Project Supervision Plan of Guangzhou Metro’s First-Phase Project of about 60,000 words, which was unanimously approved by a review group composed of 11 domestic and foreign experts in subway project construction and project management.

Establish the Research Institute of Project Administration and Management, directly serve major construction projects

Suggested by the former Ministry of Construction and approved by Tongji University, China’s first research institution specialized in project management and engineering construction supervision was launched in Tongji University on April 21st, 1991.

Since the establishment of Research Institute of Project Administration and Management, the research on project management theory has been continuously deepened and refined, and more pioneering engineering management consulting services have been completed. In 1991, the engineering construction supervision system was used on a trial base in the first financial building in Pudong, Shanghai — Yindu Building of the People’s Bank of China. In 1992, the new project management mode CM was applied to Shanghai Stock Exchange Building in Pudong as a pilot. In 1993, Preliminary Planning was first applied to the investment and design positioning of Shanghai International Financial Building of Bank of China. In 1996, the Bank of Communications Building where the Bank of Communications headquarters is located launched China’s first innovative design contract……

The engineering information management methods, means or systems developed by Tongji University have played a strong supporting role in the construction of a series of major national projects since the 1990s. The types of engineering projects using the theories of the research institute extended from the previous commercial engineering to exhibition engineering, industrial engineering, and traffic engineering with more complex systems.

On June 25, 2010, a world-class urban integrated transportation hub project, Hongqiao Railway Station and Hongqiao Long-distance Passenger Transport Station, which are located in Shanghai Hongqiao integrated transportion hub were put into operation at the same time. After more than one thousand days and nights of hard work, the institute has scientifically helped the owners to command and control the intricate construction progress with the advanced Project General Control Theory, which has made an important contribution to the construction of this major project.

For each kind of project, their achievement of project management undoubtedly  become the benchmark of its kind, turning into the template for  followers. A batch of graduate students of Ding Shizhao followed their supervisor to exploit the barren land of project management and fill in the gaps in each field.

The institute has been engaged in the project management of Xiamen International Convention and Exhibition Center, Nanning International Convention and Exhibition Center, Shanghai Pudong Airport, Guangzhou New Baiyun Airport, and Suzhou Metro, etc.. Following the construction supervision system, the institute also assisted the Ministry of Construction in establishing the certification and examination system for the qualification of constractors, and assist the Investment Association of China in establishing the quality level certification and examination system for construction project investment managers.

In 2018, the Research Institute of Project Administration and Management  participated in the establishment of the Construction Industry Innovation and Development Research Institute of Tongji University, which is committed to providing valuable management ideas, methods and tools for the transformation and upgrading of China’s construction industry, and contributing to the promotion of China’s construction industry in gaining world-leading competitiveness. This year, Ding Shizhao’s team also participated in the progress control and tracking of Beijing Daxing New Airport.

To Promote Engineering Management Discipline Construction, to Train High-level Professionals for Nation

Along with the development of Research Institute of Project Administration and Management, the engineering management discipline of Tongji University also develops at the same pace. Discipline development and institute development go hand in hand, complementing each other, with rich theory and application results of the institute integrated into the class teaching of engineering management.

The research institute, during its development has turned out a batch of professional backbones, including Academician Ding Lieyun, former president of Huazhong Science and Technology University, and more than ten professors of Tongji University, Southeast University, Harbin Institute of Technology, Tsinghua University and Shandong University, who have generally rose and played a pivotal role in various important scientific research projects and major engineering  projects.

Discipline construction plays the leading role in training high-level professional talents. The institute grasps the advantageous opportunity of the discipline construction and unceasingly enhances the overall competitive power of the engineering management discipline. Teachers and researchers of the Engineering Management Institute actively participate in the discipline construction of Construction Economy, Regulations and Project Management and Urban Development and Management, becoming the core strength in the construction of these two disciplines.

After years of arduous strive, the Engineering Management Discipline  of Tongji University has made remarkable construction achievements. In 1999, Tongji University became one of the first batch of universities to pass the evaluation by Engineering Management Major Evaluation Committee of the Ministry of Construction. In 2000, Professor Kunishima, Director of the Building Management Research Center of Tokyo University in Japan and one of the well-known project management experts in Asia expressed his appreciation of the achievement made by Tongji EMRI in project management and  construction informatization when he visited Tongji. In 2001, Professor John Bale, President of CIOB indicated that the Engineering Management Research Institute of Tongji University has come in line with advanced international research institutions.

The Research Institute of Project Administration and Management has been promoting the development of curriculum and teaching materials. The research team has Meticulously forged 2 national quality courses, 3 Shanghai municipal quality courses, 3 national planning textbooks and 2 ministerial planning textbooks.

The team also launches high-quality courses online open to the whole society. Born out of Tongji University’s national quality course,  Project Management became a MOOC course in 2014. So far, it has successfully launched five MOOC editions and won the award of National Quality Open Online Courses, attracting more than 170,000 people and gaining great popularity.

Meanwhile, the institute has also accelerated its international pace,  working with foreign universities, international engineering and professional societies to promote comprehensive cooperation between the two sides and grasp the research frontiers and development trends of international project management. The Engineering Management of Tongji University has been recognized by many international professional authorities.

“We are gratified that looking back on 40 years, the Engineering Management of Tongji University has remained true to our original aspiration and kept our mission firmly in mind, in leading and actively promoting the development of project management discipline in our country, providing  talent, science and technology support for the scientific management of a batch of major engineering construction projects and the healthy development of construction industry.” Professor Ding Shizhao said.