It’s been a successful ten-year run for The Contracting Education Academy at Georgia Tech, and now it’s time to take a break.
Effective April 1, 2021, The Academy is suspending its course offerings.
“After 183 government acquisition training engagements, providing 4,950 hours of instruction for the benefit of 3,243 students, we’re taking a breather,” explains Academy program manager Alexis Kirksey. “Workforce needs and training options in the field of government procurement are evolving, hastened by the pandemic, so Georgia Tech must decide what role should be played in the future.”
At its conception in 2010, the mission of Georgia Tech’s Contracting Academy was defined as becoming a nationally recognized training source for the government acquisition community. Without question, that mission has been fulfilled.
The Contracting Academy has an interesting history. The Academy rolled out its first educational offering to 10 students in February 2011.
The Academy was born about a year earlier when a vice president of the Georgia Institute of Technology sponsored a Shark Tank-type competition as a way of encouraging faculty and staff to submit ideas about how the Institute could serve new markets. Among the 200 ideas submitted in the contest was one from Chuck Schadl and some of his cohorts who proposed offering professional education contracting coursework and curriculum design services to government and industry. The idea was selected for immediate implementation by Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute.
Rhonda Lynch was named The Academy’s initial program manager. For starters, Georgia Tech reached out to the Defense Acquisition University (DAU) to obtain recognition as an official equivalency training provider of DAU curriculum. Once securing that coveted affiliation, The Academy later earned similar recognition from the Federal Acquisition Institute (FAI).
The Academy’s resident course portfolio grew into a dozen courses associated with DAU and FAI. These courses, ranging in length from three days to four weeks, were taught through Georgia Tech’s Professional Education unit located in the world-class Global Learning Center on the Atlanta campus. During the pandemic of 2020-21, the courses were converted to on-line offerings. In addition, The Academy produced customized curriculum and workshops on a variety of government contracting topics.
Over time, under the direction of Donna Bertrand who served as The Academy’s second program manager, major organizations were attracted to The Academy’s training expertise. The National Association of State Procurement Officials (NASPO), the State of Iowa, MIT’s Lincoln Lab, the Department of Defense Education Activity (DODEA), the Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (APTAC), and dozens of federal agencies — all came to The Academy for curriculum design work and presentation. These organizations, in turn, put our coursework in the hands of contracting personnel in literally all 50 states, and internationally.
From the beginning, a distinguishing trait of The Academy’s government acquisition coursework is the fact that all classes were open to government and business representatives alike. The resulting classroom interaction allowed both sectors to come away from the classes with a richer understanding of each other’s point of view.
Back to the Future
Looking back a decade to The Academy’s inaugural course, our instructors still remember what happened on the last day of that first class. The Georgia Tech vice president who approved The Academy’s creation months earlier dropped-in unannounced. He asked the students a simple, but pointed, question: Was it worth it? The students enthusiastically responded in the affirmative, and a few weeks later one of the students wrote to the VP saying that he received a promotion as a result of attending the class. Since then, that success has been replicated many times over through the delivery of a caliber of education not found anywhere else.
The Contracting Education Academy at Georgia Tech’s strength as a training provider is both well-recognized and multi-faceted. All instructors are experienced acquisition professionals and talented teachers. Our educational offerings featured detailed student guide books, web-based student resources, how-to handout materials, practical exercises, customizable slide presentations, flash drives loaded with training support materials, FAR flash cards, and other exclusive features. And from the beginning, educational services were priced competitively, saving training dollars while delivering an unparalleled caliber of education.
We look forward to the next chapter of The Academy’s commitment to service, continuous improvement, and innovation.