Loughborough University team secures place in global final of construction competition

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Four Loughborough University students have set their sights on global success after reaching the final of an international construction business challenge.

Second year students Charlie Waterhouse, Nick Theos, and Tom Shepherd, who are studying Construction Engineering Management, and Steve Smith, who is studying Architectural Engineering and Design Management, will compete in the final of the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) Global Student Challenge in Hong Kong on 8 to 11 July.

The challenge aims to identify and shape the construction leaders of tomorrow. Students are set a task to run their own construction company in a simulated environment using software developed by Loughborough University called MERIT (Management Enterprise Risk Innovation and Teamwork), which has been used to train young professionals since 1998.

Team SSTW Construction, as they are also known, are one of six groups to qualify for the final after beating off competition from more than 30 other student teams from around the world. On offer for the overall winning team is the chance to be mentored by past presidents of the CIOB and some of the biggest names in the industry.

Charlie said getting to the final had been the result of six weeks’ hard work, which included making decisions on the way in which they wanted to run their fictional company.

“Every week, we made a number of decisions ranging from how we would invest the capital we had available, to the number of men we would need to deploy for each contract,” he said.

“These decisions would involve a meeting lasting around an hour in which we would discuss how we would move forward following the previous week’s outcome. The MERIT Game gave us a greater understanding of how a construction company is run and the other workings that go on away from the construction site.

“We are all very proud of making it to the final and hopefully it shows we have the correct mind set to go far within the construction industry once we graduate. We are also all over the moon about the trip to Hong Kong.”

Bruce Wright, Senior Technical Tutor in the School of Civil and Building Engineering, said: “I would like to congratulate the team for their hard work in getting to the finals of the competition. Their focus on the task in hand and their steady improvement through each of the rounds brought dividends both to their imaginary shareholders and to themselves, with an all-expenses paid trip to Hong Kong. 

“The MERIT Game is an exacting challenge that requires the students to balance current requirements with future expectations, such as predicting impending labour requirements and tender margins well before you have won the work – just like running a real construction company. I’m sure that the experience will benefit their future careers and I wish them every success in Hong Kong.”

Bridget Bartlett, Deputy Chief Executive at the CIOB, said: “Everyone is searching for the next wave of talent, especially those who have leadership potential, and that is what our Challenge is all about – the development of leaders. We congratulate all the teams to have reached Hong Kong and look forward to seeing who will win.”

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