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September 17, 2013

Source: stl today

By Alexander Huang

On September 7, MCASTA (Midwest Chinese American Science and Technology Association) hosted its computer simulation competition for high school students at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Nine teams of students from various high schools received guidance from student coaches from Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) and used SAP ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) to simulate running a company over the course of sixty “days,” each day lasting one minute.

The nine teams included students from MICDS, St. Louis U High School, Parkway Central, Marquette High School, De Smet, Lindbergh High School, Lift for Life Academy, Lafayette, Francis Howell North, and Mehlville. The teams competed to make the highest profits in-game and place in the top four, which received a monetary award, an award certificate, and a company prize from the event’s sponsors, the most prominent of which was Cargill.

Coming in first place was the team coached by Dr. Craig Claybaugh. The team members were MICDS students Chandler Dalton, Sameer Kahn, Agustin Ferreira, and Erica King. Mr. Brain Joannes of MICDS worked with his team throughout the competition.

Placing second was the team coached by Ryan Roark. The team consisted of St. Louis U High School students Alex Beffa, Eric Berg, Adam Ship, and Kieran Chang. The teacher who encouraged them to participate was Ms. Mary Michalski.

In third place was Sean Howell’s team, which included Akshay Srinivasan from Marquette High School, and Jonathan Hwang, Sandy Gu, and Kevin Tian from Parkway central.

In fourth place was Montana Long’s team, which included Andrew Wessel, PJ Panesar, and Daniel Han from De Smet, and Michael Skaer from Lindbergh High School.

The competition was a highly positive and educational experience for the participants. Team members who were interviewed said that they enjoyed competing while also learning how to use SAP ERP. The SAP ERP software is used by real-world companies to manage resources.

Montana Long, one of the team coaches, was impressed by her team’s level of performance and ability to learn quickly. “They were mostly freshmen in high school, but they did better than most freshmen in college would do! I think the most important message I learned as a coach was to just let my team figure things out on their own,” said Montana. “My team learned that everything has a consequence; whether good or bad!”

Another coach, Sean Howell, also saw the event as a success. “I learned to let my team make the decisions, but also add my input and experience to their ideas. I think my team learned how a business operates in the real world and that decisions made can have a huge effect.”

Blake Smith, also a coach, elaborated on the challenges that the coaches faced. “As a coach, the lesson I felt was the most important to me was communication. The coaches weren’t allowed to give strategy to their team, only provide their team with the means to carry out their own ideas. I had to learn how to communicate to my team potential problems and solutions without giving away the optimal choices for their situation.” “For many students, learning can be a boring process,” said Blake. “But I feel we at [Missouri] S&T have done a very good job providing a fun learning experience so that the teams felt engaged during their time with us.” He believes that his team enjoyed the competition while successfully learning “how to navigate a whole new software, keep track of a market, make quick decisions, solve problems, form strategies, and much more. But the most important lesson they could learn, in my opinion, was teamwork.”

Montana, Blake, and Sean all said that they would like to participate again in the future and that they would encourage even more people to join. “I would love to do the simulation again next year!” said Montana. “I feel like we all learned something new and we would love to share that with more people in the future.”

Dr. Bih-Ru Lea, the president of MCASTA, explained the importance of the competition by saying, “Information technology (IT) is an enabler for companies to gain competitive advantages in today’s global economy. I am very pleased to see those high school students who participated in the simulation competition learn the importance of IT and how IT can be used to gain competitive advantages in a realistic business environment. Seeing their creativity, teamwork, and passion for IT during the simulation, I am confident that we will have more talented high school students pursuing an IT major in college and that they will help US companies to succeed in today’s global competition!”

Read the originial article on stl today.

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