HHS students win state JA Titan championship

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HURON — A trio of Huron High School students, Leeam Davis, Lah Ker Paw Htoo and Ehmu Dah, won the state Junior Achievement Titan Competition in mid-December and never left town to do it.

According to Mike Carda, the HHS Consumer Economics teacher through which the competition was conducted, JA Titan is a simulation game, similar to others that have taken place before. “This was the first year, for different reasons, that we had teams compete at state,” Carda said. “James Salinas was our Junior Achievement contact this year and was very helpful.”

JA Titan creates the opportunity to become CEOs of a mobile phone company. Each team is given $2 million in start-up capital, from which they buy factories, configure their product, create inventory, then market and sell the phones they had created.

As students work in teams, or on their own, to make financial decisions about production, marketing, research and development (R&D), and corporate social responsibility (CSR), they begin to see how every choice made in an organization relates to its future success.

“The competition takes place over 12 quarters,” Carda said, “or four years in the simulation, which really took only about an hour and a half. You guys weren’t even late for your next class, were you?” he asked Davis and Lah Ker Paw Htoo.

Davis said that the team’s strategy was to market hard on the features included with their phone, and not necessarily what people may have wanted. “Our focus was on marketing and advertising,” he said. “We chose the least expensive phones, and had features that we upgraded as soon as upgrades were available.”

Once the simulation started, and the first quarter ended, teams would receive a report on units sold, and then make decisions on what changes, if any, they wanted to make in a matter of minutes before the game resumed.

Again, Davis said, after inventory was replenished, the idea was to market their product hard.

“Apparently, the idea worked,” Carda said. “They won by quite a bit.”

Davis said that at the end of the simulation, the team realized a net profit of $300,000, with assets of more than $2 million, including factories and such.

“We pretty much sold out every quarter,” Davis said.

Prior to the state competition, Carda said they competed within the class for a week. Davis’ team won that competition, but some of the members of that team weren’t interested in moving on, so he chose Ehmu Dah and Lah Ker Paw Htoo.

“Our Consumer Econ class is a semester in the fall,” Carda said. “Many times, the competition is set for the spring and kids that have been out of the class for a bit aren’t interested in getting back into it. It just worked out that this year these guys could make it work.” Carda noted that another team from Huron was also in the state competition as well.

“One of the things they learned, I think, is to continue to move forward and make changes,” Carda said. “Some of the other teams didn’t always do that and in a short period of time found out they weren’t selling and eventually went bankrupt.”

The team, named “Moowie Badger” earned a trophy and shared $300 in gift cards from sponsors. They also qualified for the National competition in May, which will also take place in the comfort of Carda’s classroom.

While simulation games such as JA Titan have taken place for several years, Carda sees they improvements and refinement of the current version as a precursor to the expansion of e-sports throughout the high school level in the state. Recently it was announced that 20 schools in South Dakota - not including Huron - will compete for an e-sports state title in the spring.

“It’s kind of a coming thing,” Carda said.

Kind of a precursor to the e-sports that are coming.