First Place... Second Time
Friday, August 5, 2011
A team of five University of San Diego Master of Science in Real Estate students has taken first place in the 2011 Argus Software University Challenge, beating out 21 other teams from across the United States and around the world. This is the second time that the Argus Software University Challenge has been held and the second time that the University of San Diego has taken first place, making USD the team to beat.
The team was made up of graduate real estate students: Michael Argier, Joseph Engelken, Ashley Lencek, Joel Munoz and Justin Shifrin; Professor Charles Tu, PhD, served as faculty adviser. The team was awarded $7,500 for their victory, as well as a trophy.
The USD team prevailed over other student teams from: MIT, University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University, Cornell, Dartmouth College, Clemson, Texas A&M, University of Denver, University of Florida, The Pennsylvania State University, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, University of Washington, University of Colorado-Boulder, Emory University, as well as teams from Canada, the United Kingdom and China.
In the challenge, each team was required to complete a case study titled, “Investing in a Return to Normalcy: Back to the Future.” Teams simulated a comprehensive real-life development analysis of the fictitious commercial real estate project by modeling the provided assumptions using Argus software, which is the real estate industry standard for commercial real estate analysis. The winning USD team also conducted extensive market research, comparing the fictitious town to Temecula, Calif., and incorporated sustainability aspects into the project.
The team put hundreds of hours into the project, which was on top of their graduate-level coursework. Team member Michael Argier ’11 (MSRE) says the team’s coursework directly informed the report they were required to produce for the competition. “Being able to work into our report the material we were covering in our MSRE classes was really helpful,” Argier says. “Several times a week, we would decide to add a section to the report based on a new concept we had just learned during a class lecture.”
Justin Shifrin ’11 (MSRE), who was co-captain along with Munoz, says the applied learning was supplemented by the team’s creative plan of attack. “We approached the 20-acre parcel of land with a segmented analysis instead of viewing the proposed development as a monolithic project,” he says. “This way, we were able to creatively phase the project to best suit the local market.”
And while the analysis was local, the competition was anything but, which team member Joseph Engelken ’11 (MSRE) says makes the victory that much sweeter.
“We were pitted against Ivy Leaguers, other top-notch programs like MIT, and schools from all over the world, ” he says. “To be able to not just win, but actually defend our title as Argus champs, is an incredible feat. If being back-to-back winners of this competition doesn't prove the value our Burnham-Moores Center professors and other faculty bring to USD’s master’s programs, I don’t know what does.”
Ashley Lencek echoes Engelken’s sentiment. “I have got to give credit to the excellent professors at USD,” she says. “I came into the program with very little knowledge of commercial real estate, let alone the development process. But after receiving such excellent training on Argus, I was able to apply my new skills to this project.”