Four District 88 students participate in Junior Achievement national contest

Staff photo by Connor Cummiskey Four high-school students made it to the championship round of Junior Achievement Titan competition May 9. The plaque is from a November competition in Mankato that qualified them for nationals. Pictured left to right: Tyler Walls, Alex Portner, Tyler Roufs and Joe Fortwengler.

By Connor Cummiskey

Staff Writer

NEW ULM — Four District 88 students took fifth at the championship round of a business simulation competition this month.

The national Junior Achievement (JA) Titan competition pitted 64 teams against each other in a virtual business simulation to reach the championship round. Four New Ulm students made it: Tyler Roufs, Tyler Walls, Joe Fortwengler and Alex Portner.

“The game, in general, is, you get a product and you can upgrade your product and you can make technological advances in it,” Portner said. “Then you have to set the price and how many you are going to make, and then there are variables for each thing.”

In this case the product was a “holo-generator,” essentially a cellphone that uses holograms.

To win, students have to make choices about production, pricing, marketing, special features, capital investments and charitable giving.

The business with the best performance index (PI) score in a simulation is the winner. Variables like sales compared to leftover inventory and the popularity of optional features like Smell-O-Vision can increase or decrease a team’s score.

Games are divided into fiscal quarters, which vary in number depending on game length. During each quarter a team can adjust prices and other variables to try and out-sell their competition.

While the four did not win the championship, they ranked fifth-best in the nation. They took first in both a regional competition in Mankato last November and their first round at nationals.

At District 88, students in business teacher Kayla Ruch’s class can participate in the business simulation. Students who qualify at regionals move on to state and then nationals.

“They all have the opportunity to go on the field-trip to participate in Mankato,” Ruch said. “Obviously we give them some practice time and teach them how to use the simulation so that they are not going in cold.”

JA competitors have a chance to earn scholarships from the national organization. That extra money for college is partially what motivated these four high school seniors to compete.

Portner and Fortwengler are planning on going into accounting, Roufs is looking into business management and Walls wants to go into medicine.

Connor Cummiskey can be emailed at ccummiskey@nujournal.com.