Author Archives: Pat Weaver

Talk around the Clock to help UNICEF bring aid to Turkey – April 14th and 15th.

Last year, Project Managers 4 The World ran a 24-hours Talk-around-the-Clock in support for children and families from Ukraine. This year the PMI Ukraine Chapter and some of the world’s finest project management speakers are coming together for the second Talk-around-the-Clock virtual conference to crowdfund money and help charity organizations and show our support to the victims of the Turkish earthquake.

All of the international line up of speakers are working pro-bono meaning all of the revenue from this event goes to the UNICEF appeal. The virtual conference begins April 14, 10 AM UTC and will run for 24 hours until April 15, 10 AM UTC and includes 21 presenters, a panel discussion, and an opening and closing ceremony.

To do your part, review the speaker line-up then donate to register at

The Origins of Military Engineers

Military engineers have been a part of an Army for millennia. But until relatively recent times, the engineer was an individual who directed the work of troops, or civilian contractors. The military engineer may be an officer or may be simply a skilled civilian working for the State or military.

The shift to army’s employing skilled people in military units dedicated to engineering functions seems to be a development of the 18th century. In the modern world, the largest military engineering unit is the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

The USACE is an engineer formation of the United States Army that has three primary mission areas: Engineer Regiment, military construction, and civil works. Founded 16 March 1802 the Corps was and still is responsible for much infrastructure in the USA which also makes it one of the world’s largest project management organizations. The formal training of military engineers appears to have been a French development (quickly copied by other countries), whereas the formation of a military engineering unit seems to have originated in the UK.  

UK Developments

Engineers have always served in the armies of the Crown with engineers leading the construction of castles and military fortifications for the time of William the Conqueror.  The Royal Engineers trace their origins back to the military engineers brought to England by William the Conqueror, specifically Bishop Gundulf to construct Rochester Castle between 1087 and 1089, and claim over 900 years of unbroken service to the crown.

The origins of the modern corps, along with those of the Royal Artillery, lie in the Board of Ordnance established in the 15th century. In 1716, the Board of Ordnance established a Corps of Engineers, consisting entirely of commissioned officers. Manual engineering works were done by Artificer Companies, made up of contracted civilian artisans and laborers.

This started to change in 1772 when a Soldier Artificer Company was established for service in Gibraltar, the first instance of non-commissioned military engineers. The value of this small disciplined force was recognized during the Great Siege of Gibraltar (discussed below), working with other elements of the military to build and repair fortifications. Subsequently, the idea of a permanent military engineering unit was adopted by the rest of the British Army in 1787.

In that year, the Corps of Engineers was granted the Royal prefix, and a Corps of Royal Military Artificers was formed, consisting of non-commissioned officers and privates, to be led by the Royal Engineers. Ten years later, the Gibraltar company (which had remained separate) was absorbed, and the rest is history. So, what led to the Great Siege of Gibraltar, that brought a small army unit to national prominence?

The Great Siege of Gibraltar

The Great Siege of Gibraltar was an unsuccessful attempt by Spain and France to capture Gibraltar from the British during the American Revolutionary War, and was the largest battle of that war! Capturing the British base at Gibraltar was one of Spain’s primary war aims. The siege started on 16 June 1779, when Spain entered the war on the side of France and as co-belligerents of the revolutionary United Colonies.

The small Gibraltar garrison under George Augustus Eliott was blockaded from June 1779 to 7th February 1783 when the Peace of Paris came into effect. At three years, seven months, and twelve days, it is the longest siege endured by the British Armed Forces. Sustaining the siege was made possible by three large convoys each roughly a year apart, and British success in several related naval battles.

As part of the political maneuvering associated with the peace talks in Paris, the French and Spanish decided on a final major assault to capture Gibraltar. On 13 September 1782 the Bourbon allies launched their great attack using:

  • 5,260 fighting men, both French and Spanish, aboard ten newly engineered ‘floating batteries’ with 138 to 212 heavy guns each
  • In support were the combined Spanish and French fleet, which consisted of 49 ships of the line, 40 Spanish gunboats and 20 bomb-vessels, manned by a total of 30,000 sailors and marines, and
  • They were supported by 86 land guns and 35,000 Spanish and 7,000–8,000 French troops on land.

The assault was a total failure, but Gibraltar was still under siege.

The final ‘nail-in-the-coffin’ for the French and Spanish came when the third British relief convoy under Admiral Richard Howe slipped through their blockading fleet and arrived at the garrison on 18th October 1782. A total of 31 transport ships, delivered vital supplies, food, and ammunition. The fleet also brought an additional three regiments of foot, bringing the total number of the garrison to over 7,000. These defeats in October finally forced France and Spain to negotiate the terms of the Peace of Paris and end the wars. The British and Americans had already sorted out their part of the agreement so this British victory marked the last major engagement of the American Revolutionary War.

Holding the Rock had proved a formidable undertaking, and when the siege was finally lifted on 7th February 1783 the victory against overwhelming odds was greeted with great rejoicing in Great Britain.  But what led to the siege of Gibraltar and the French and Spanish support for the Americans – it’s a long and complex story?

War of Spanish Succession (1700 – 1714)

For convenience, the events that led to the siege can be said to have started with the death of the childless Habsburg King Charles II of Spain in 1700. The French Bourbon Monarchy sought to take over the Spanish crown by making the son of the current French King, the King of Spain, meaning the two crowns would merge when the young boy also became King of France. This triggered a war with Britain who was determined to stop France and Spain merging into a mega-power supported by the Hapsburg Empire. This war eventually ended in the 1713 & 15 Peace of Utrecht treaties, and the 1714 Treaties of Rastatt and Baden.

Under the agreements, Philip (a Bourbon) was confirmed as King of Spain in return for renouncing the right of himself or his descendants to inherit the French throne; the Spanish Empire remained largely intact, but ceded territories in Italy and the Low Countries to Austria and Savoy. Britain retained Gibraltar and Menorca which it captured during the war, acquired significant trade concessions in the Spanish Americas, and as a consequence, replaced the Dutch as the leading maritime and commercial European power.

The Seven Years’ War (1756–1763)

The Seven Years’ War was a continuation of the rivalry between Britain and the French / Spanish alliance. This war involved most of the major powers in Europe on one side or the other and was a global conflict fought in Europe, the Americas, and the Asia-Pacific regions.

The settlements that brought a end to this war involved no territorial changes in Europe but did involve transfer of colonial possessions between Great Britain, France, Portugal, and Spain:

  • France and Spain had to return conquered colonial territory to Great Britain and Portugal
  • France cedes its North American possessions east of the Mississippi River, Canada, the islands of St. Vincent, Tobago, Dominica, and Grenada, and some territory in India to Great Britain
  • France ceded Louisiana and its North American territory west of the Mississippi River to Spain
  • Spain ceded Florida to Great Britain.

The American Revolutionary War (1775 – 1783)

The American Revolutionary War offered the French and Spanish an opportunity to recover their losses from the Seven Years War. The French in particular, saw an independent America as good for France and bad for Britain.

From 1774, or earlier, American patriot forces were financed and supported by the Kingdom of France and, to a lesser extent, the Kingdom of Spain, and the Dutch Republic. After the American victory at the Battle of Saratoga the French could see the prospects of a long war, and possible American victory, and signed an alliance with America in 1778; shortly after, Britain declared war on France. Spain joined in 1779, and the Dutch in 1780, but as a ‘neutral’ the Dutch had been supplying the Americans since 1774.

As well as fighting in North America, these countries also attacked British possessions in Europe (Gibraltar and Menorca), the Caribbean, and India, with one of the primary Spanish objectives being the re-capture of Gibraltar.

The Peace of Paris that ended the American Revolutionary War involved a series of treaties between Britain, the USA, France, Spain, and the Dutch (United Provinces). As a result:

  • The United States was recognised as an entity and its Norther border with Canada was agreed to be along the Great Lakes. In return Britain obtained a trade agreement with the USA.
  • The British and the Dutch more-or-less re-established the status quo.
  • Spain regained its lost territories in North America including Florida and the Gulf Coast plus Menorca in the Mediterranean, Britain retained Gibraltar
  • The French and British agreed:
    • British would retain Newfoundland and adjacent islands, except Saint Pierre and Miquelon.
    • In the West Indies, the British crown returns Saint Lucia to France and surrenders Tobago, the French crown returns Grenada, St. Vincent, Dominica, St. Christopher (St. Kitts), Nevis and Montserrat to Britain, and
    • To more-or-less re-established the status quo in Africa and India.

So, at the end of the war, Spain had a good outcome in the Americas, France was nearly bankrupt (which is seen by many as one of the causes of the French Revolution), the USA achieved independence, and the British held onto most of their emerging empire. A fairly good outcome until the next round or wars between Britain and France started in 1793.


How much influence the British Army had on the formation of the United States Army Corps of Engineers is uncertain. The French provided military engineers to the revolutionary army and the French military engineers have a similar range of responsibilities to the USACE. Whereas the British REs don’t have the wide-ranging civil responsibilities of their USA counterparts but both forces have similar military roles.

For more blogs and papers on engineering and construction history see:

Earned Schedule 20th Anniversary Celebrations

We have supported two initiatives focused on celebrating the 20th anniversary of the launch of Earned Schedule in 2003. Earned Schedule (ES) resolved the long-standing dilemma of the EVM schedule indicators providing inaccurate information for late performing projects. ES provides the ability to predict project completion dates with more accuracy than CPM. It uses the same data as traditional EVM, but shifts the calculations from the cost axis to the time axis.

Our paper published in the March edition of PMWJ, rounds out our series on the history of Earned Value Management (EVM). Earned Schedule – the First 20 Years, traces the attempts to use EVM data to predict project completion dates from the 1990s through to the current time, including the development of ES during its first 20 years.

Download all of our EVM history papers, including Earned Schedule – the First 20 Years from:

We were also a keen supporter of the PGCS world-wide webinar celebrating the anniversary.  All of the presentations, and information on the presenters, sponsors and supporters are now available for review in the PGCS library at:   You are encouraged to make full use of this free resource.

PGCS is a not-for-profit organization focused on helping improve project and program delivery and runs events throughout the year:

Measuring time

If you want to know who made clocks tick (and why they no longer do) you need our latest article, Measuring time.

This article looks and improvements in the devices used to track the time of day over the last 5000 years and how improvements in the devices used to measure time interacted with the development of calendars, and the appreciation of time both socially and in the management of projects.

Download Measuring time from:  

For more on the Origins of Numbers, Calendars and Calculations see:

Australian Diploma in Project Controls

The new ASQA approved Diploma of Project Controls is now live!

The Project Controls Institute Australia Team received  ASQA accreditation for the Diploma of Project Controls as of 20th January and expect to commence delivery of training in the first half of 2023. Prospective candidates, trainer and interested organizations are encouraged to contact the team at  

For more on project controls certification and training options see:

Shining the light towards low-carbon construction

Two of the world’s longest serving lighthouses are closely related. The original lighthouse was the Pharos of Alexandria. This lighthouse was constructed in the third century BCE by Ptolemy 1st and is counted among the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The second is the ‘Tower of Hercules’. This is the oldest known working lighthouse. It has an Roman origin, built in the 1st century CE, on a peninsula about 2.4 km from the centre of A Coruña, Galicia, in north-western Spain. So, what’s the connection?

Pharos of Alexandria

Following his conquest of Egypt, Alexander the Great founded the city of Alexandria, in331 BCE, as his new capital, and a showplace linking Greek and Egyptian culture.  The presence of a natural harbor and a nearby supply of fresh water combined with an already existing colony of Macedonians made the selection of the site, an easy choice.

Alexandria was one of the world’s first planned cities. From its Gate of the Sun to its Gate of the Moon, temples and palaces lined its spacious streets. The city witnessed the romance of Julius Caesar and Cleopatra, the genius of the greatest mathematicians, and boasted the world’s first and probably greatest public library (see: The Great Library of Alexandria – The first Google?). The development of Alexandria into a centre of world trade continued under the Ptolemaic dynasty.

Pharos was a small island located off the coast of Alexandria. As part of the harbour development, Alexandria and Pharos were connected by a mole spanning more than 1,200 metres (0.75 miles), called the Heptastadion. The east side of the mole became the Great Harbour, and on the west side lay the Royal Harbour.  The Pharos was built at the extreme Western end of the island, marking shoals and the entrance to the harbour, by the architect Sostratus of Cnidus, a friend of the Ptolemaic kings. A second, shorter causeway ran from the end of the island to the rock on which the Pharos was built.

According to the sources, the 135-meter-high lighthouse was built between c. 300 – 280 BCE, during the reigns of Ptolemy I and II. The structure has three stages, all sloping slightly inward; the lowest was square, the next octagonal, and the top cylindrical. A broad spiral ramp led to the top, where a fire burned at night and for many years a mirror reflected sunlight during the day. The main building materials were blocks of limestone and granite.

How the fire was maintained during the lighthouse’s 17 centuries of operation is uncertain wood was always in short supply and expensive, oil or naphtha are possible alternatives. There appears to have been a cadre of trained operators, who lived in the Pharos and were responsible for the logistics and uninterrupted operation of the light as the rulers of Egypt changed from the Ptolemaic dynasty, to the Romans, to the Arabs. 

The lighthouse was severely damaged by three earthquakes between 956 and 1323 CE, eventually becoming an abandoned ruin. The Salten of Egypt converted base of the tower into a fort in 1480, reusing some of the stoned form the original construction.

The ‘Tower of Hercules’ – Spain

The Tower of Hercules is the oldest known working lighthouse. The tower was built in the 1st century CE, on a peninsula about 2.4 km from the centre of A Coruña, Galicia, in north-western Spain. It was built by the architect Gaius Sevius Lupus, from Aeminium in the province of Lusitania (present-day Coimbra, Portugal) using the original plans of the Pharos of Alexandria. The tower has been in constant use since the 2nd century CE and is considered to be the oldest extant lighthouse.

The original tower was shorter and wider than the one in the photograph by Alessio Damato. The original 34-metre (112 ft) Roman core was surrounded by a spiral ramp. Then in 1788, the tower core was given a neoclassical restoration, including a new 21-metre (69 ft) fourth story. This restoration was undertaken by naval engineer Eustaquio Giannini and was finished in 1791. His work protected the central core of the original Roman monument while restoring its technical functions.

Within, the much-repaired lighthouse, Roman and medieval masonry may be inspected, including a cornerstone with the inscription MARTI AVG.SACR C.SEVIVS LVPVS ARCHITECTVS ÆMINIENSIS LVSITANVS.EX.VO, identifying the architect and dedicating the structure to Mars, the Roman god of war.

Final thoughts

The longevity of both of these structures, and many of the more modern lighthouses built in the 18th century are a testament to the durability of a well-constructed stone structure.  In an age where minimizing the embedded carbon in structures is becoming increasingly important, should we be shifting back to durable stone in preference to concrete with its effective life-span measured in decades?

For more on the history of construction management see:

Earned Schedule’s 20th Anniversary – Free ½ Day Webinar 8th March

PGCS in collaboration with the developer of Earned Schedule, Walt Lipke, and seven other international experts will be running a free webinar on 8th March to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Earned Schedule in the EVM marketplace. The webinar will run twice to make the sessions accessible to everyone, regardless of where you are in the world.

The presenters are:
Walt Lipke:  Earned Schedule, 20 years of innovation, past – present and future  
Kym Henderson:  Validating Earned Schedule, the research and studies  
Keith Heitzman & Patrick Weaver:  Interview with Keith Heitzman (NASA Contractor) 
Robert Van de Velde:  Act Fast, Think Fast: Agile Schedule Performance
Paulo André de Andrade:  Research on a categoriser to enhance expected project duration forecasting performance using ES
Mario Vanhoucke:  A 20-year academic research journey summarized in one presentation
Michael Higgins:   Telling the time in the UK
Yancy Qualls:   Do You Trust Your IMS? (Earned Schedule vs. Traditional IECDs in a forecasting accuracy showdown) 

Registration is free, and each of the presentations will be made available to webinar participants for review after the event.

For more information, including detailed timing of the sessions, and a link to register see:

Incentive contracts are not new

The idea of incentivizing a contractor to achieve the objectives specified in a contract are far from new. One example of this is the glazing of the Great East Window of York Minster in the early 15th century.

The cathedral was built between 1220 and 1472 on the site of an older Saxon cathedral. Its Great East Window was glazed between 1405 and 1408. The window is the largest medieval stained-glass window in UK at a bit over 9m wide x 23m tall (larger than tennis court), containing over 300 glazed panels. It was one of the most ambitious windows ever to have been made in the Middle Ages. The design contains two biblical cycles, Creation and Revelation, the beginning and the end of all things. Beneath the heavenly realm at the head of the window, populated by angels, prophets, patriarchs, apostles, saints, and martyrs, there are three rows of 27 Old Testament scenes from the Creation to the death of Absalom. Below this, scenes from the Apocalypse appears, with a row of historical figures at the base of the window. The complex narratives that the window explores represented a true collaboration of teams of clergy and craftsmen, combining advanced liturgical knowledge with the glass-painters’ genius.

Walter Skirlaw, bishop of Durham between 1330 and 1406, has been recognized as the donor of the Great East Window. Its creation was the work of celebrated Coventry glazier John Thornton. Little is known of Thornton’s career, but he was presumably a master glazier of some renown when he was awarded this major work at York Minster. Skirlaw had served as bishop of Coventry so it is likely he was at least in part responsible for bringing Thornton to York.

Thornton's Design Proposal
Sections of the Great East Window

Neither the size or location of Thornton’s York workshop is known, but the glazing contract formed between him and the Chapter at York reveals that he alone was responsible for the design of the window and much of the key painted details. Analysis of the painting styles shows that there were several glass-painters at work on the window. Nonetheless, the window is characterized by the consistently high standard of painting exhibited across the whole window, demonstrating that Thornton selected his collaborators with great discernment and applied strict quality control.

The contract between Thornton and the Church to glaze the window, has a base price of £46 plus an incentive fee of £10 payable if the work was finished within 3 years.  The project was completed within the allowed time and Thornton received his full payment of £56 which is the equivalent of £375,000.00 in today’s money (US$450,000+).

The records held by York Minster show several ‘modern’ aspects of this contract:

  1. The project was the equivalent of a ‘design and construct’ contract
  2. Incentive fee payments were in use in the 15th century
  3. Quality was both important and controlled.

We don’t know how much interaction there was between the clergy and the glaziers, but it is likely for such an important commission, there were regular reviews of both the detail design before work on a panel started, and the completed panel before installation. 

On a closing note, Thornton’s fee contrasts significantly with the £11 million recently paid to the York Glaziers Trust to restore and clean the window.

For more on the history of construction management see: The evolution of construction management – Building Projects

Are numbers real?

Our article ‘Are Numbers Real?’, looking at the origins, and some of the irrational aspects, of the numbers we use every day has been updated and expanded. The focus of the article is the transition from Roman to Arabic number systems, briefly touching on earlier and later numbering systems.

Download the paper from:

For more project management history see:

CSR, TBL, and Too Many Other Acronyms

Our latest article, CSR, TBL, and Too Many Other Acronyms looks at the relationship between ESG, CSR, TBL and a range of other concepts that relate to the need for organizations to act in ways that are socially and environmentally sustainable.

The concepts are good for everyone and central to good governance, but does the alphabet soup of acronyms that are appearing help or hinder the achievement of good governance outcomes?

Download CSR, TBL, and Too Many Other Acronyms :

For more on sustainability see: