The Business Simulation Blog

Cesim Firm case study: Savonia University of Applied Sciences (video)

Posted by Cesim Team on Thursday, December 14, 2023 | Reading time: 6 min.

Professor Ari Jääskeläinen, lecturer at Savonia University of Applied Sciences (Finland), shares how he uses Cesim Firm, our General Management Business Simulation, to train his engineering students' business acumen. Additionally, one of his course attendees shares her experience on how participating in a business simulation helped her acquire a holistic view of a company.

Interview with Prof. Ari Jääskeläinen
Subtitles available (CC)


Interview with engineering student Marika L.
Subtitles available (CC)


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Interviews transcriptions

Interview with Prof. Ari Jääskeläinen

What are the objectives for incorporating a business simulation in a course designed for engineering students?

The core objective is to bring dynamics to the classroom besides normal lecturing and doing some calculations. This kind of simulation brings, like I said, dynamics. The ball is given to the hands of the students and they have their own company to make decisions for and see the consequences of the decisions regarding operative happenings for the new year, and then also results in income statement, balance sheet, cash flow statement, as well as financial indicators.

How is the simulation woven into the course schedule?

We have three parts in the course. The course name is Introduction to business economics and that is the only course for construction engineering students during their curriculum regarding business related issues. The first part of the course is theory. We learn basic concepts of costs and cross-margin calculation and such things. Then, when they have some background, we start the simulation. They all feel that, okay now we are starting something very new. Then we go on, on a class by class basis. We have 90-minute classes twice a week and every time that we meet in the class we will go further with Cesim. And after this, they make a simulation report and we hold a seminar in the class where all the teams are presenting their experiences, their achievements, their lessons learned out of simulation. We end the simulation part and then we complete the course with the final theory sections.

What key insights do you expect your engineering students to gain after completing the simulation?

The key benefit is that the student understands the linkage between the operational activities of a company to financial and economic issues. They understand much better the costs that are accumulating and also the importance of revenue to cover all the costs and leave some profit. As well, they understand the structure of income statement and balance sheet. These are totally new things for them. Before the whole course they understand some key financial indicators like return on capital employed and equity ratio and current ratio. The same things that we learn in theory as well. But when they have their own numbers from the simulation, it is much more of importance and interest for them. All in all, the simulation brings dynamics to the course and it makes the issues more real and supports heavily the theoretical subjects of the course. And teamwork is very essential, as well as communication, and it's of crucial importance that they have the communications functioning, that every student is in the same page and everybody should stand behind the decisions and outcomes.

What is crucial when facilitating a course with a simulation component?

There should be a strong linkage between the theory and the simulation, and the students should be familiar with the key concepts before entering into the simulation. And also clear evaluation criteria. And constant support is needed, answering to students questions regarding the simulation. Especially for engineering students, the content itself is so new, and when simulation is also a new environment, a new interface, there are a lot of new things to learn. The instructor’s support is very much needed, especially in the beginning.

What can students learn from the competitive aspect of the simulation?

I think the competition aspect is triggering a lot the students’ motivation. They get enthusiastic about the competition, and of course they want to win. And when they have very good opportunities to benchmark each other’s decisions and also consequences, they analyze in a very natural way, okay, what we did differently, what we can improve. So they actually dive pretty deep into the simulation environment, and at the same time with the content of the course. Everybody can learn, also those who lose the competition, they can see the differences: okay, what we did in a different way than the winner. They can analyze the differences, the gaps, and find key mistakes and things that they were not aware of. Many times the competition is very tight and actually there can be very small marginals between the winning teams. And sometimes it can be that actually all companies, all teams do a very good job in the simulation. But always there can be found the winner.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of using simulations in teaching?

It is always nice to see how students take this when we have done together some kind of overview in the beginning of the class regarding the past round results. And there's a new market outlook for them, new things happening in the simulation. They need to sit down next to each other in the same team, in the class, and start looking around what we did, what happened, and what is now new for us here, and what we should do. So see how they enjoy, and they learn, and they are deeply diving in the simulation environment, and at the same time in the course content.

What are the overarching advantages of business simulations?

This kind of simulations are the best possible way to learn business-related issues in the classroom. We cannot go to companies to make decisions there and see the consequences, and we cannot establish own companies during the course and try things with them. So, this kind of business simulation without any risk, but still having lot of features from the normal life, gives the desired dynamics to the classroom. It is rather easy to be implemented and synchronized to the classes, and then also link it to the theory. And the Cesim simulation has proved to be very easy to use in the technical way. It is operating on the internet. It is easy to log in, easy to get started. There are good manuals and what is important, there's very good and rapid support. Whenever I have some question that I cannot answer myself, to student questions, I can email Cesim support and I will get an answer very soon. So everything has gone very smoothly.

What advice would you offer to fellow educators considering the adoption of business simulations?

You can be brave of thinking about this option and contact Cesim representatives, look what is their variety of simulations. There's a long list of different applications, I'm also using three different simulations in different courses. Be brave also to try and integrate to your own course, maybe the first time is not the most optimal one, but you can improve over the years, and little by little fine-tune everything. But this provides a good platform for learning by doing.


Interview with engineering student

As an engineering student, what are the benefits of a simulation course?

That I can think and see the bigger picture of a firm, how it affects the cash flow, cost efficiency and business operations. And as an engineer, what I'm going to do when I graduate, it's important for us to think about the cost efficiency and really think about it. So we can just like design something and just like throw money there, money there, and then we are in minus. So it really has to be thought about.

How did you work as a team in the competitive simulation?

We always looked the other teams decisions and we compared our decisions to theirs. Then we made little tactics. Like, "oh, they are doing that, so maybe if we do this". I really like that we could see other teams’ decisions and the predictions every round. So we can change the decisions and then we can click it, and see “oh this wasn't a good idea”. And then change it back, and back and forth. So we could see “this is the way we are going to do it”. I really like that we could see those things. Because in the real world you can't see how it's going to be You just can't know. So it really made us think, and that made me learn about the decision-making.

How did your instructor contribute to your learning experience?

Before Cesim started we had theory lessons. Then we started Cesim, the practice rounds. Then was the real game starting. And we have, the lessons are, we study half of the lessons, then we make the decisions in Cesim, and then the other half we study the theory. And our teacher is really good. The teacher makes it more interesting. He can explain deeper about the things that affects to the other things, and it makes us think more. I think it's really important and I can honestly say this is the most interesting course in these three years in school.


Tags: Educator 2.0, business simulation, Business education, Business acumen, engineering, testimonial

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