Emylee Mueller, shown here, wasn’t sure about the career she wanted to pursue, but she did know that she wanted to continue her education after graduating from Eureka High School in west St. Louis County.
“I knew that going to St. Louis Community College would be a good way to get started on my general education requirements,” she said.
Before she registered for classes, she spoke with her academic advisor about which classes she should take. The advisor encouraged her to take Introduction to Business.
“Exploring aspects of the business world has always interested me, so I signed up for the course,” she said. Mueller didn’t realize that she would soon be the fourth highest-scoring student in the Capsim Challenge, an international business competition.
Business instructor Al Fillenwarth has been using the Capsim Challenge as part of his course for four years. The tool is a simulation experience that immerses students in an exploration of core business processes. Students explore the relationship between research and development, marketing, production and finance by competing against each other in class. Depending on their scores, the STLCC students could then choose to compete in the international competition against students from universities and colleges worldwide.
Approximately 1,800 students from more than 280 universities around the globe competed in the Capsim Challenge in November 2012, with 12 teams qualifying for the 48-hour, high pressure business simulation playoffs. Mueller was one of the teams.
“The challenge pits students who have participated in either the Capstone or Foundation business simulation in their university studies to compete with other Capsim alumni to run the world’s top simulated company,” Fillenwarth said.
Mueller had to first pick a product and then decide which segment she would market it to. Based on those decisions, she had to set sales forecasts, price, a promotional budget, and then take out “loans” to pay for marketing and production. She explored production issues such as capacity and automation. She also had to consider human resource issues such as turnover rate and training.
“I did pretty well in the practice rounds in class. Other students asked me to tutor them,” said Mueller. She said that she felt confident up to Round 4, but then started having some problems.
“It’s like a real business. I felt lost when my company started losing money, and frustrated that I couldn’t get out of the cycle,” she said.
Despite the hiccups she experienced in Round 4, she was able achieve impressive results with the fourth-place finish.
“I thought it was a good learning experience,” she said. “It was good to have to actually make decisions. You can get a feel for whether you’re going to like [business].”
Mueller now is taking a marketing class to broaden her knowledge of the business world.
Fillenwarth explained that the simulations help students understand the business world.
“Using the simulation has helped students gain a hands-on understanding of the various functions of business and how decisions in one area of the company impact other functions,” he said. “The decisions they make are like those made in the real world. There isn’t a right or wrong decision. Everything has a tradeoff and for most students, this is the first time they have had an experience like this.”
Fillenwarth’s class participated again this spring, and 14 of his students scored in the top 100. Coleman Browder finished 10th, Kyle Kramer, 12th, and Denis Ranostaj, 15th out of the 559 competing teams.
“At the community college, we wanted to compare ourselves with the best in the world,” Fillenwarth said. “This is our fourth year to use the simulation in Introduction to Business. Every semester we have more students taking the class who have been told about the class by a friend. Every semester, former students of mine tell me this was the coolest class they have ever taken.”
Established in 1962, St. Louis Community College is the largest community college district in Missouri and one of the largest in the United States. STLCC has four campuses – Florissant Valley, Forest Park, Meramec and Wildwood – that annually serve more than 81,000 students through credit courses, continuing education and workforce development programs. For more information about STLCC, visit www.stlcc.edu.