3High-Tech Collaboration Project team members at DEKA Research and Development Corp. in Manchester, New Hampshire, USA set out in 2006 to create a state-of-the-art prosthetic arm for military veteran amputees. But to deliver the
desired results, they had to create clear lines of communication across
multiple government agencies.
Funded by the Revolutionizing Prosthetics program, a US$100 million initiative of the U.S. government’s Department of Defense (DoD),
the DEKA Arm System gained federal approval in May 2014. The end
product, a robotic arm controlled by electric signals, leverages the contraction of muscles close to the site of amputation to give users greater
control over their prosthetic limb.
Team members say the key to the project’s success was the sharing
Making the Best of It
of information and resources between the U.S. Department of Veterans
Affairs and the U.S. Army. “Interagency collaboration has been critical
to allow for independent assessments
of the technology, incorporation of user
feedback into the design, and identi-
fication of regulatory strategies and
transition paths,” Justin Sanchez, PhD, a
program manager with the project, said
in a press release. “We could not have
achieved our goal so quickly without
the support of many partners in govern-
ment.” —Emma Haak
The mining industry notwithstanding, the recession has already impacted project managers. Practitioners in
the construction, oil and gas, and IT sectors have lost jobs as a result of the economic slowdown and corruption scandals, according to Alex Brasil, PMP, project manager, Clarify, São Paulo, Brazil.
“For a while now, some companies have not been hiring and the number of unemployed professionals has
grown,” Mr. Brasil says. Project managers looking for work—or just looking to leave large organizations in
sectors hit by the downturn—can stay afloat by exploring opportunities in other industries, or with small-to-medium enterprises.
The good news is that in recent years Brazil has suffered from a shortage of project managers, so a sig-
nificant oversupply in the current recession isn’t likely. For those who do find themselves out of work, Mr.
Brasil suggests taking the opportunity to boost skills.
“Despite crises, there’s always an opportunity to improve our careers with new knowledge, education and inspiration, including improving our technical and interpersonal skills and entrepreneurial vision.” —Ambreen Ali
apart, so Mr. Ebeling instead set up shop in
a refugee camp. On 11 November, Daniel’s
arm was completed and for the first time in
two years, he was able to feed himself.
Mr. Ebeling, a film and TV producer by
trade, now realizes he didn’t have a realistic
time frame for the project. But he credits
Not Impossible with finding a creative way
to complete it. “We know how to produce
something from scratch. In my world, producers are project managers—they can look
at goals and figure out what needs to happen to get us there.”