Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

APPEL Courses

How do I determine which APPEL courses to take?
You may want to begin by working with your supervisor to outline a development plan that will help you attain your professional goals. You can then utilize the APPEL Project Management & Systems Engineering Competency Model, which is designed to help NASA employees identify their training needs. The Competency Model outlines 18 project management, 17 systems engineering, and 14 shared competencies. Once you have identified a competency you wish to develop, you will find a list of APPEL courses that address that competency. You can go to the APPEL Catalog to browse through those courses in order to determine which will best support your development goals.

If you are interested in taking courses for Project Management Institute (PMI)® Professional Development Units (PDUs), please visit the APPEL Catalog. On the APPEL Catalog main page, enter the term “PDU” in the “Search Course Catalog” box to generate a list of courses that award PDUs. External certification credit is detailed on the webpage for each course.

Are there specific courses that APPEL recommends taking first?
APPEL’s core curriculum is a great place to start your learning. These courses are designed for a general NASA audience and provide training in key technical areas. Courses include Foundations of Aerospace, Project Management and Systems Engineering, Advanced Project Management and Advanced Systems Engineering, and International Project Management. Information about each course can be found in the APPEL Catalog.

For more information, mid-level practitioners may find it helpful to utilize the APPEL Project Management & Systems Engineering Competency Model and Project Management & Systems Engineering Development Framework to gauge your position in the development cycle and determine which competencies and associated courses would benefit you most.

Which courses are best for developing specific project management, systems engineering, or team skills?
APPEL offers a range of courses that can help you develop specific skills associated with different disciplines. Using the APPEL Catalog, you can sort courses by category to find those that best suit your skill-development needs (i.e., Systems Engineering, Program/Project Management, Earned Value Management, etc.). To determine whether a particular course will help you develop a specific skill or set of skills, visit the course webpage in the APPEL Catalog. Then click the “Competencies” tab to review the competencies listed for that course in order to find out whether it addresses the skills you need.

Where can I find descriptions for the courses offered by APPEL?
Course descriptions can be viewed in the APPEL Catalog.

How many APPEL courses are available virtually or in an online, self-paced format? At a quick glance, it looks like most APPEL courses are classroom-based.
Most of APPEL’s courses are offered in person and led by instructors in a classroom environment. However, we do offer the following virtual and self-paced modules, which are available through SATERN:

Virtual instructor-led classroom courses:

  • Writing for Technical Professionals
  • Communicating Technical Issues
  • Managing Virtual Teams

Online self-paced courses:

  • Health & Medical Technical Authority
  • Essentials of Astronomy
  • Earth, Moon, and Mars
  • Seven Axioms of Good Engineering

Additional self-paced modules related to Earned Value Management:

  • Control Account Manager
  • Earned Value Management Systems
  • Integrated Baseline Review
  • Scheduling Virtual Learning Lab

In addition, APPEL has many online resources available through the Skillsoft suite of courses that can be found within each course description under Supplemental Resources in our interactive catalog. Visit the APPEL Catalog to learn more.

Is there a general guideline for when and how often each APPEL course is offered? Some courses seem to be offered more frequently than others.
APPEL course availability is determined according to budget and training needs. Each year, APPEL conducts a center assessment with the involvement of the APPEL points of contact (POCs) from each center, their organizations, key NASA stakeholders, and Mission Directorates to identify courses that address training gaps and support NASA and center training goals. The courses offered directly reflect the training needs identified in this assessment. Depending on the budget, APPEL typically delivers 70% to 80% of the courses requested by each center, with a focus on offerings that provide the most interest and best value to the centers.

What is the tuition for APPEL courses?
APPEL courses are offered at no charge to NASA civil servants. However, if a course is held off site, expenses associated with travel, hotel, and per diem may be incurred and are the responsibility of the participant and their center organization.

APPEL Curriculum

How is the APPEL curriculum determined each year?
Each year, a center needs assessment is performed by the APPEL Center Point of Contact (POC). The POC then forwards course requests to APPEL for consideration of award. The course awards for each center form the basis for the APPEL Master Schedule.

How does the APPEL curriculum interface with the external project management community?
APPEL is designated a Registered Education Provider (R.E.P.) #1895 by the Project Management Institute (PMI), indicating that APPEL promotes rigor and the use of standard curriculum presentation practices specific to project management education. NASA APPEL actively supports NASA civil servants who wish to obtain a Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification by providing a three-day test preparation course. All APPEL project management courses are reviewed regularly for PMI Professional Development Units (PDUs), which are used to maintain the PMI PMP certification.

Further, in a memorandum dated April 25, 2007, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced a new set of mandatory requirements for program/project manager certification that applies to all civilian agencies. In response to this OMB policy, NASA developed a program to certify program and project managers who are currently managing projects with lifecycle costs greater than $250 million as defined in NASA Procedural Requirement (NPR) 7120.5. Please click here for more information about the Federal Acquisition Certification for Program/Project Managers (FAC-P/PM).

NASA APPEL has also obtained permission from PMI such that the education requirement to sit for the PMP exam is waived for any current holder of the NASA FAC-P/PM credential. NASA is the only federal agency to be recognized by PMI in this manner.

As part of the business model, APPEL routinely benchmarks itself against other project management academies to ascertain and share best practices and processes, and to seek methods to continually improve the means by which to offer project management education.

Accreditation

What organizations does APPEL work with for external accreditations of their courses?
APPEL is designated a Registered Education Provider (R.E.P.) #1895 by the Project Management Institute (PMI). This affiliation authorizes that designated NASA APPEL courses may be claimed by holders of the PMI Project Management Professional (PMP) certification for the Professional Development Units (PDUs) they need to maintain their certification.

APPEL is also recognized as an Accredited Provider (AP) by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET). The NASA APPEL program fully complies with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI)/IACET 2013 Standard for Continuing Education and Training, and is authorized to award IACET Continuing Education Units (CEUs) upon the successful completion of coursework.

APPEL courses that incorporate a project management or common competency are eligible to be claimed as credit towards the recertification of the NASA Federal Acquisition Certification for Program/Project Managers (FAC-P/PM) credential. Click here for further details.

How many credits will I get for taking an APPEL course?
Accreditation information is included on each course page in the APPEL Catalog as well as on the course completion certificate.

How do I log my credit hours for an APPEL course?
If you register for an APPEL course in SATERN, your credit hours will automatically be compiled and tracked provided you satisfactorily complete the requirements of the course. No action is required by you.

To request PMI PDUs, you will need to self-report to PMI through the Continuing Certification Requirements System (CCRS). Please go to www.pmi.org and sign on with your user ID and password. From there, reference Certifications/Maintain Your Certification. The PMI Course ID is located on the specific APPEL Catalog webpage for each course.

Which courses are eligible for PMI PDUs?
To find out which courses may be taken for PMI PDUs recognized through the R.E.P. program, please refer to the APPEL Catalog. On the APPEL Catalog main page, enter the term “PDU” in the “Search Course Catalog” box to generate a list of courses that award PDUs. External certification credit is detailed on the webpage for each course.

How are my FAC-P/PM recertification credits tracked?
FAC-P/PM program participants will automatically receive credit in SATERN for the successful completion of the eligible APPEL courses they attend. Other events for credit, such as “Courses external to NASA,” need to be self-reported. Please contact your center FAC-P/PM point of contact (POC) for more information. Click here for a list of FAC-P/PM POCs.

How do the skills and certification provided by APPEL translate to other agencies and organizations?
The PMI PMP credential is widely recognized by other agencies and organizations. It indicates that the credential holder possesses a high level of proficiency with standard project management practices and terminology. The NASA FAC-P/PM credential further exemplifies a high skill proficiency level as measured against the NASA Project Management & Systems Engineering Competency Model.

Registration

After registering for an APPEL course, why does my registration stay in pending status once I have been approved by my center?
The SATERN approval process for APPEL courses has four levels:

  1. Supervisor
  2. Your center’s Training Coordinator
  3. The APPEL Center Point of Contact (POC)
  4. APPEL Training and Support

APPEL’s process is to hold all pending registrations at a Level 4 until after the SATERN registration cut-off date has passed. This allows us to collect the registrations for everyone interested, which tells us 1) if we have enough people to move forward with the course and 2) whether we need the center to prioritize the registrations because we have more interest than seats available. Final enrollment confirmation takes place approximately 4.5 weeks prior to the course.

Will I be notified that my enrollment is approved but pending?
After submitting an enrollment for a course, SATERN sends out a series of automated emails. These emails go out when enrollments and registrations are approved at each of the four levels in the approval process.

The emails state your enrollment’s current level of approval and note that it will remain in a pending status until approved at the final level. You will know that you are formally enrolled in an APPEL course when you receive a Course Information Email from an APPEL Training and Support Specialist.

Who approves my SATERN registration if I am a contractor who wants to take an APPEL course?
APPEL courses have a four-step approval process:

  1. Supervisor
  2. Your center’s Training Coordinator
  3. The APPEL Center Point of Contact (POC)
  4. APPEL Training and Support

Per SATERN Business Rules, contractors wishing to self-register for training in SATERN should list their government Technical Representative as their Supervisor (Step 1 Approver) in SATERN. The remaining approvers (Steps 2-4) are pre-populated in the system and cannot be changed by practitioners.

Course Pre-Work

Will APPEL send me the pre-work required for my APPEL course?
For courses with pre-work assignments, participants will be notified of pre-work requirements after being enrolled in a course. Pre-work assignments, submission instructions, and due dates are listed under the pre-work section of the course website. APPEL Training and Support Specialists are happy to email pre-work to enrolled practitioners upon request.

Do I have to do the pre-work required for my APPEL course?
Pre-work assignments, submission instructions, and due dates are listed under the pre-work section of the course website. The website will clearly state if assignments are recommended or required.

When is the pre-work for the course due?
Pre-work due dates and requirements can be found in the pre-work section of the course website.

Course Materials

How do I find course materials in SATERN?
APPEL course materials are not provided through the SATERN system. Course materials are generally provided on the first day of the course. In some cases, electronic materials are provided through the course website prior to the course start date. Only registered practitioners will have access to the course website. APPEL Training and Support Specialists are happy to email course materials to registered practitioners upon request, as long as file size permits.

Can APPEL send me the materials for my course?
APPEL Training and Support Specialists are happy to email course materials to registered practitioners upon request, as long as file size permits. In general, course materials are handed out on the first day of the course, although in some cases electronic materials are provided through the course website prior to the course start date. Please note that only registered practitioners will have access to the course website.

Can I print out the course materials and bring them with me?
For courses with electronic materials, materials can be printed and brought to class. However, it is recommended that instead of printing, materials be downloaded prior to the course and brought to class on a laptop or tablet.

Course Logistics

How can I find out what time a particular course starts?
Start times vary by offering, but APPEL courses typically start between 8:00 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. Specific course start times can be found in SATERN; please refer to the following Job Aid for instructions: SATERN Job Aid Steps 1-4. Additionally, once enrolled, practitioners can find the course start time on the course website.

How can I find out the instructor for a particular course?
APPEL courses have several possible instructors for each course. A list of potential instructors can be found on the course page in the APPEL Catalog. Once enrolled in a course, practitioners are able to view the instructor name and biography on the course website.

How do I find out where a course is held at the center? If the course is held off site, how do I get to the location?
The building and room number for each course can be found in the scheduled offering in SATERN (SATERN Job Aid Steps 1-4). Once registered, practitioners are provided with maps and directions to the building and classroom through the course website.

I’m enrolled in an APPEL course, but I have a mandatory meeting scheduled during the time the course meets. Can I attend the rest of the course and receive full credit even though I will miss part of it?
The APPEL attendance policy states that practitioners must be present and attend the entire course to receive credit. In exceptional circumstances, the participant may appeal for a waiver from APPEL management through the APPEL Training and Support Specialist. If a participant knows in advance that they will not be able to attend all sessions, they should reschedule for a later offering.

Can I use my iPad (tablet) instead of a laptop for my APPEL course?
For courses with electronic materials, practitioners can download materials and bring them to class on a laptop or tablet.

Do I have to bring my laptop to my APPEL course?
For courses with electronic materials, practitioners are required to download the course materials prior to the first day and bring them to class either on a laptop or tablet, or as printed material.

How do I access the course website?
The course website link is provided for you in the Course Information Email. We recommend that you bookmark the page upon your first visit for future reference. The link to the course website can be requested from the Training and Support Specialist at any time.

withdrawal

I need to cancel out of an APPEL course, but I can’t cancel myself out of SATERN. Can APPEL do that for me?
Practitioners can self-cancel (withdraw) from an APPEL course through SATERN any time before the SATERN registration cut-off date. Once the cut-off date has passed, cancellations should be sent to the APPEL Center Point of Contact (POC) or to the APPEL Training and Support Specialist for processing. Any cancellation received less than 24 hours before the first day of a course will be considered a no-show.

appel support

I don’t know who to call for more information about a course. Can APPEL help me?
Please reach out to the APPEL point of contact(s) (POC) at your center or to APPEL Training and Support Specialists for help. You can find a list of APPEL POCs and Training and Support Specialists on the APPEL website.

What are APPEL POCs?
APPEL POCs serve as liaisons between the Academy and each NASA center’s training community. They are the local APPEL representatives and should be the first point of contact for center-specific APPEL course information. You can find a list of APPEL POCs on the APPEL website.

What are APPEL Training and Support Specialists?
APPEL Training and Support Specialists serve as the agency points of contact for questions related to APPEL course registration, course logistics, and the APPEL Master Schedule. You can find a list of APPEL Training and Support Specialists on the APPEL website.

Where are APPEL’s Training and Support Specialists located?
The APPEL Training and Support Specialists provide agency-wide support for APPEL courses and are found at several locations across the country.

Federal Acquisition Certification for Program/Project Managers (FAC-P/PM)

I’m interested in obtaining the FAC-P/PM. How can I become a candidate?
The criterion to be certified is determined by the nature of the position an individual holds within the agency. A candidate must hold a position with responsibilities for managing a major acquisition program or project of $250 million or more, or meet the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-11 criteria for IT. FAC-P/PM certification is not based on tenure or learning experience, although those factors do come into consideration should a person’s position be put forward for certification.

What is the application process for the FAC-P/PM?
Once a position has been identified for certification, a candidate will provide to their center review board a self-assessment of proficiency within the 18 project management and 14 common agency competencies, a copy of their learning history, a practitioner resume, and a supervisory endorsement. Following review and approval by the center review board, the review board will then recommend certification to the Center Director who, upon approval, will forward the recommendation to the Chief Engineer and Acquisitions Career Manager for final signoff.

Is the FAC-P/PM Certification program open to all NASA project managers?
No, it is not. A candidate must hold a position with responsibilities for managing a major acquisition program or project of $250 million or more, or meet the OMB Circular A-11 criteria for IT.

Which courses count toward FAC-P/PM re-certification?
APPEL courses that incorporate a project management or common competency are eligible to be claimed as credit towards recertification of the FAC-P/PM credential. See APPEL’s interactive Project Management & Systems Engineering Competency Model for more information about project management and common competencies. Other learning events and work experience can also be claimed for FAC-P/PM credit through the self-reporting process in SATERN. Please contact your center point of contact (POC) for further details.

Hands-On Development Training

Does APPEL offer any training programs other than the courses in its curriculum?
APPEL primarily offers training in the form of courses, which are delivered both in person and online. APPEL also offers developmental learning programs with hands-on components, such as Rocket University and Project HOPE (Hands-On Project Experience). Additionally, APPEL provides a Project Management & Systems Engineering Competency Model, which members of NASA’s technical workforce can use to assess their career readiness in terms of specific project management competencies, systems engineering competencies, and competencies common to both fields.

In addition to courses, APPEL provides networking resources for NASA young professionals and knowledge-sharing resources (i.e., case studies, lessons learned articles, knowledge sharing materials, and communications about current NASA projects/missions) for all stakeholders.

other

What are the benefits of receiving training from APPEL versus the training my center offers?
APPEL training is designed to address agency-wide requirements, so it complements any center-specific training that is available to NASA employees.

What other resources are available to me if I cannot take a particular APPEL course?
If you are not able to attend an APPEL course, there are still a number of APPEL supplemental and NASA resources available to you. These are listed on each course’s webpage in the online APPEL Catalog, and include:

  • Relevant items available in Books 24×7
  • Skillsoft resources
  • SATERN courses

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