Catching up with the 2015 champions

Our 2015 winners give an insight into what it was like competing in Global Student Challenge, and what they’ve been up to since.


Global Student Challenge has embarked on its third year, based on the MERIT game system it challenges students from across the globe to compete to see who can run the most successful virtual construction company. Last year, the final six teams met in Hong Kong in July to battle it out across eight intense rounds of competition.


“Most of our team were dealing with extreme jet lag,” recalls Ross Anderson, who was a part of Glasgow Caledonian University’s winning team, Saltire. “Combined with the stress of trying to make the best decisions for our simulated business meant that we were all exhausted by the time we went home.”


Saltire were favourites throughout the competition last year, consistently ranking at the top of the leader board, but despite this came into the final with only a small lead ahead of second place team – The Mighty Ducts from Curtin University. It was so close, that Prof Ron McCaffer, creator of MERIT (the game upon which Global Student Challenge is based) remarked that while no team has ever come from sixth place to win, the gap between sixth-placed SSTW from Loughborough University and Saltire was so close that it could have been wiped out in a single period.


And it almost was when they made an accidental error. Mark recalls, “they submitted a valid turn, before the deadline, then realized that they could do better and so resubmitted a turn but accidentally switched the details for 2 jobs around in the data entry and so got their manning levels wrong.”


Despite this, Saltire went on to win the prestigious Alan Crane Award at what they described was the highlight of the week – the Awards Dinner. Alongside Ross, the team included Eugene Atiso, Dale Mason and Graham Allen – with their tutor for the competition being Mark Phillipson. It was second time lucky for Mark – he brought a team to the final in 2014, but they were narrowly beaten by the team from RMIT University, Australia.


“I am extremely proud of how team Saltire performed and their achievement was a testament to their characters,” says Mark. “I am sure that they will all flourish in their careers in the industry. The CIOB Global Student Challenge was a great opportunity for them to meet with such a broad spectrum of future industry professionals from around the world and I am sure it is a transformative experience that will stand them in good stead.”


After the competition ended, all four members of Saltire went on to graduate with honours, and three of them are now back at Glasgow Caledonian University, studying towards a Master’s degree.


They’ll all be attending the CIOB Dinner in Glasgow next month, organised by the CIOB Scotland Branch. “It will be the first time we have been all together since the competition so that will be a nice reunion,” says Ross.


He also has some advice for those competing this year:
“My advice to this year’s teams is to be aggressive from the start. Once you’ve learned the way the simulation works the only limit is the virtual resources you have. Almost everything can be worked out so you can know your finances and workload a few turns in advance. Use the trials to test anything you are not certain about then max out the overdraft, build your capital base and complete as many jobs as you possibly can to improve your performance indicators and get to the top of the leader board.”
With a team from Glasgow Caledonian University currently topping the leader board for this years’ game, it looks as if this is the university to beat this year.


We look forward to welcoming the top six teams to Hong Kong this July, where only one will walk away with the prestigious Alan Crane Award. In the meantime, you can follow the progress of the challenge on both Facebook and Twitter.