LEWISTON — It was fast and furious action on computers around the state Thursday as high school students competed for top place in the fifth annual Junior Achievement of Maine’s Titan Challenge business simulation.

Thirteen teams of three students each waged simulated economic war on laptop computers throughout the day at the University of Southern Maine’s Lewiston-Auburn College. They pitted their business acumen against nearly 50 other students at similar gatherings of networked computers at USM in Portland, the University of Maine in Orono, and UM Presque Isle.

Students representing Lewiston Regional Technical Center, Oak Hill High School in
Wales and Poland Regional High School won awards in early rounds, but top honors went to Brewer High School, with Erskine Academy in South China and Cheverus High School in Portland also in the high rankings.

The event aimed to increase students’ understanding of the business world. Each team, working with the assistance of a local business mentor, runs through a series of business decision-making rounds. After a few minutes of frantic keyboard input by contestants, the game pauses and the students get a look at how they fared against the other teams.

Positions changed quickly, and the room often echoed with cheers and high-fives as strategies succeeded or failed.

The Raiders 3 team from Oak Hill had a roller-coaster experience as it ran a virtual business that produced holographic generators. In each round, they juggled overall costs, production, marketing, and research and development figures.

Student Nik Moring, that team’s CEO, said, “We played it way too safe in the first round.” Ben Meservy, CFO, and Sam Hatch, in charge of marketing and R&D, agreed and added that they had been too cautious about tapping their credit line and pushing research and development.

However, at the end of the second round, the Raiders 3 team was threatening to move to the top. They had shifted to a more aggressive strategy and it was working.

Roger Diffin of L.L. Bean, who was their business mentor, told them, “Go with what you know.” They responded with a series of product price adjustments and other business moves, but by the end of the final round they found themselves slightly below the awards level.

The final point total for Raiders 3 was 773. It was good enough for a sixth-place rating. Hatch said he felt their effort was “not too shabby.”

“All of this can be applied in the real world,” Moring said. Meservy agreed that the Titan Challenge software is “a really accurate program.”

The Knights 1 team of Poland won a second-place award after the contest’s second round. Its members were Bailey Galgano, Taylor Lien and Lia Greenleaf.

Members of a Lewiston Regional Technical Center team, another Oak Hill team and a Poland Regional High School team earned second-place spots after the first round. The Lewiston contestants were Andrew Gaumont, Joe Mckinnon and Matt Therrien; Oak Hill members were Cameron Morin, Kenyon Fraser and Julia Applebee; and the Poland members were Brandon McLeon, Dan Pelletier and Nick Paulin.

Ann Goodenow, administrative and area board operations director of Junior Achievement of Maine’s office in Portland, coordinated the event at USM-LAC.

Junior Achievement is the world’s largest organization dedicated to educating students in grades K-12 about entrepreneurship, work readiness and financial literacy through experiential, hands-on programs. This year, JA will reach out to almost 10,000 Maine students.

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