MERIT (management, enterprise, risk, innovation and teamwork) is a web-based computer simulation game competition. It allows young professionals, working in groups and acting as a board of directors and managers, to run their own virtual construction company. The early rounds are played against a computer. The top six of this year's 117 entries made the finals, where they competed against each other.
The winning Spartans team
Akrisht Pandey attributed his team's success to tactics including finishing jobs early to improve client relationships. His team also sought out different clients to provide a broader client base. But success was also down to sheer hard work: since January the team had been working on MERIT for two or three hours every night, as well as some mornings and most weekends. Much of the work was done online, as the team was spread over two Atkins offices – in Bangalore and in Gurgaon near Delhi. "We really enjoyed it," said Pandey, "especially after the first two rounds when we realised we were doing well."
On presenting the ICE silver salver to the winners, Armitt laid down two challenges to the participants. The first was to recognise that central to the success of major projects was politics and money. "There are always technical issues, but there are also politics and funding. We as engineers don't like doing this. But we have to articulate the arguments. It's a challenge for the profession, we must get out and join the debate", said Armitt.
His second challenge was to stimulate innovation, where he believed construction has fallen far behind industries like biochemistry, aerospace or telecoms. "Who is going to make the breakthrough in materials technology, or how to build better houses more efficiently?", he asked. "Your success here has demonstrated you have the capabilities to tackle these challenges. With people like you coming into it, this industry has a great future," he said.