Learning and Teaching Matters

School of Engineering Sciences – Students compete in University Business Challenge

Posted on: 19 March, 2008

Three teams of five students from the School of Engineering Sciences (SES) has taken part in the IBM Universities Business Challenge 2007/2008. The universities business challenge is a training exercise that is built around a computer simulation of competing companies. Each team is representing one company, and has to make decisions about use of their funds for a defined trading period. Each training period is one week in the challenge and corresponds to six months of trading in the simulation. After each trading period, the various teams can get limited information about the behaviour of their competitors, such as prices of competing products, and full information about the performance of their own company.

The actions of each team do enter the simulation and will thus affect the performance of the otherteams – a realistic represenation of competing market forces. There were 232 teams taking part in the competition, and their business and investment strategies were entered via a webinterface. After six trading periods, the SES team AX3 made it to the semi-final hosted by BAE Systems in Farnbourough. At the one-day event, they competed with teams from Business, Management, Computer Science, Mathematics and Engineering schools from other universities. At the semi-finals, the pressure is increased as all decisions for a trading periods have to be made within 30 minutes. With their profit of 46.6 million pounds, team AX3 achieved an excellent second place in the event. They also won in the “Innovation and Creativity” category where an advert had to be developed and performed by the team members.

Students of all three teams were enthusiastic about the event: “This is an outstanding chance for engineering students to gain invaluable experience in dealing with business and financial aspects of managing a company. We would fully recommend this to anyone, no matter their previous experience in this area.” Students also appreciate employability aspects: “We definitely recommend the UBC to anyone, whether they have an interest in management or not [because] employers value teamwork above most things, and see a sense of business awareness as a vital asset. Both of these things are instilled by the UBC, and above everything else, it is great fun!”

The school of engineering sciences will carry on sending teams of students to take part in next year’sUniversities Business Challenge.


Team AX3 managing business decisions under time pressure at the semi-final in Farnborough.




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