Case Study: Business Simulations Give Engineering Students a New Perspective

Case Study: Business Simulations Give Engineering Students a New Perspective

A photo of Dr. Daryl Green and his engineering class. Text reads: Engaging Engineers with Business Simulations

Most engineers know simulations as tools to predict component behavior. However, few realize how simulations can help them work with colleagues across their organizations. In this case study, we’ll explore how Oklahoma Baptist University used a business simulation to build engineering students’ teamwork and business acumen.

About the School

Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU) is a small university located in Shawnee, Oklahoma. It’s been rated as one of the top regional universities in the West by U.S. News and World Report and the Princeton Review.

In 2023, the school launched three new engineering programs focused on electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and systems engineering. The programs were designed with a special interest in the aerospace industry, a growing field in Oklahoma.

The Challenges

Most engineers will work on teams during their careers. They will also have to work with colleagues across various departments. Despite this, many engineering programs focus on individual work, with little emphasis on the business environment where students will work.

OBU wanted to ensure that its students would understand the larger context of their work and be prepared to work with coworkers inside and outside their departments.

The Solution

Dr. Daryl Green was asked to teach a freshman engineering business communications class. The three-credit hour class covers technical systems, communication, and project management in business.

With a background in both engineering and business, Green was eager to help freshmen see how the two fields fit together.

“I only learned about business when I got into the workplace,” Green says. “I just think that’s too late.

Green had previously used Marketplace Simulations to give marketing students a realistic taste of the business world. He decided to do the same for his engineering students, using the Business Fundamentals Simulation.

Understanding the Simulation

The Business Fundamentals Simulation is an immersive, cross-functional business game. Working on teams, students build their own bicycle company. They develop products, market brands, set up sales channels, oversee production, determine employee compensation, and manage the company’s finances.

The simulation takes place over four decision rounds. Each decision round represents one quarter of the business year and takes about 30 to 60 minutes to complete.

Looking over a man's shoulder as he plays a Marketplace Simulations game. On his computer screen, he is hiring sales people for his stores around the world.

Forming Student Teams

Green took a two-fold approach to forming student teams. First, he divided students into teams for the first eight weeks of the class, which is focused on teaching the class’s core concepts. Students did not play the simulation during this time. Instead, they assessed their teammates and chose a team leader.

After eight weeks, the team leaders participated in a draft process to build their ideal teams. Through this process, Green built eight student teams for the Business Fundamentals Simulation.

Teaching with a Business Simulation

Once the simulation began, Green gave his students three assignments each week.

First, students worked as teams to complete one decision round in the business simulation. They made decisions in marketing, sales, production, human resources, finance, and business strategy. Before each task, the simulation included a corresponding lesson that explained key concepts and provided basic guidance for decisions.

“What I like about it is that I do not have to teach them all the concepts of business,” Green says. “The training within the simulation is excellent, and they learn doing it on their own.”

Second, Green gave an overview of the simulation results in his Thursday class. He then met with each team for a six-minute debrief of their accomplishments.

Third, students submitted a detailed report on Friday, explaining their decisions and the inner workings of their organizations.

At the end of the simulation, Green used Marketplace’s automated grading tool to assign grades. The tool graded students based on their performance within their class and in comparison to other students worldwide. Once Green set the grades, an integration exported them directly into his learning management system.

At the end of the simulation, each team gave a presentation on their achievements and lessons learned.

A photo of Dr. Daryl Green and his engineering business communications class, standing outside an academic building.


Green received overwhelmingly positive feedback, with students giving high praise for the practical experience.

“This project really just hit home how important teamwork is in the work field,” one student shared. “I never knew how important it was, and I just understand how much work goes into forming a good team.”

Another student said, “Sometimes the future can be unpredictable, and we saw this with our market share and stockouts. … From this, I learned that one of the most important business skills to have is adaptability.”

The Business Fundamentals Simulation let engineering students see how their future roles fit into a larger business context. It allowed them to assess their choice of major, and Green believes it will give them an advantage as they enter the workforce.

“The workplace is fast. … We’re talking about AI, and they’re asking you about margins, they’re asking you about finances,” Green says. “If you haven’t had a class, you have to catch up. [My] students have the fundamentals of that. They’re going to be situated pretty well.”

Equip Your Students for the Business World

Business simulations allow engineering students to see their field from a new perspective. If you’d like to give your engineering students the same opportunity, we’d love to connect with you.

Give your engineering class a learning experience like no other. Click here to explore Core Business Simulations.