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Owen Wilson, Hope Organista, Emily Turnbull and  Rob Thomas.

Owen Wilson, Hope Organista, Emily Turnbull and Rob Thomas.

Students head to Canada for final of global construction competition

Four Loughborough University students are flying to Toronto in the hope of global success after reaching the final of an international construction business challenge.

Second year students Emily Turnbull, Rob Thomas and Owen Wilson, who are studying Civil Engineering, and final year Architectural Engineering and Design Management student Hope Organista will compete in the final of the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) Global Student Challenge from 8-12 July.

The challenge aims to identify and shape the construction leaders of tomorrow and tasks teams of four students with managing their own virtual construction company.

The competition utilises MERIT (Management Enterprise Risk Innovation and Teamwork) – an online game that simulates management of a construction company.

The software was developed by Loughborough University and has been used to train young professionals since 1998.

The four Loughborough students, or team Ares as they are known, are one of six groups to qualify for the final after beating off competition from more than 40 other student teams from around the world.

In Toronto, they will compete against Cambridge University/Costain, George Brown College (Canada), Chongqing University (China), Curtin University (Australia) and RMIT University (Australia).

On offer for the winning team is the chance to be mentored by past presidents of CIOB and some of the biggest names in the industry.

Owen Wilson said getting to the final is the result of six weeks’ hard work, which included making decisions on the way in which the team wanted to run their fictional company.

He explained: “The competition involves the creation of six weekly submissions, each of which accounted for three months in-game time, of the simulated estimating, bidding, construction and financial processes involved within a typical construction company.

“We held weekly meetings where we made decisions about which projects the company would estimate the price of, bid for against simulated competitors and then allocate adequate numbers of construction and project management staff.

“As a group, we also had to ensure that shareholder satisfaction was kept high, that our capital base was put to good use and the company finances were kept in good order each period.”

Owen says the team are already benefitting from the challenge as they have gained “a tremendous amount of knowledge” about the processes involved with running a construction company.

He said: “The MERIT game allows us to gain a real understanding of the hard work and complex thinking that is needed for every contract a construction company tries to win!

“We are all thrilled about getting to the final in Toronto as it shows that our hard work has really paid off.

“We hope that the knowledge gained from this experience will be able to help us once we all graduate from Loughborough and go out into the construction industry.”

Owen Wilson, Hope Organista, Emily Turnbull and  Rob Thomas.

This is the third time a Loughborough University team has made it to the finals of the student competition.

Professor Tony Thorpe, Professor in Construction IT in the School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering, commented: “The MERIT competition has been running with major international construction companies for over 25 years.

“It is only in the last three years that an international student competition has been held and it’s a testament to the skills and determination of our University students that a Loughborough Team has made the final in each of those three years.

“The MERIT competition is an exacting challenge that requires the students to run an imaginary construction company, managing the marketing, procurement and tendering functions, and also delivering the projects, to make a profit – or loss!

“Many managers in the top construction companies have competed in MERIT at some point in their career and I’m sure that the experience will benefit our students. I wish them every success in Toronto.”

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