It was an unusual sight. Nearly 100 post-secondary business students were roaming the streets of Qualicum Beach early Wednesday morning.
Master of Business Administration (MBA) students from more than 10 schools from across the country were competing in the 2017 MBA Games hosted by Vancouver Island University. The students had to compete in three competitions: academic, athletic and spirit.
One of the spirit competitions was held in Qualicum Beach on Jan. 4. The school teams, made up of five or more students, were given the challenge to create a water filtering system by sourcing materials in town.
The teams were given the mystery challenge at 8 a.m. and had to be ready to present by 1 p.m. at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre. Some of the materials the teams needed were coffee filters, cardboard, recycled bottles and sand, but the teams were given $10, scissors and rope to start.
Denisa Seepersad from the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University in Toronto said their 10-person team split into two groups to get all the items around town.
“The first question was: who (are) the engineers? Four of them identified themselves and then we were like, ‘OK, you guys design it and the rest of us will decorate it,’” said Seepersad.
During the build, Seepersad said, the team was testing out the thickness of the layers of sand and rock for the fastest filter.
“The first time we ran it through, it worked, but it took so long everyone would be gone by the time the first drop of water fell, so we were tweaking those things,” she said. “What took the longest was we only had one scissors, so one person could work at a time,” said Seepersad, adding that they used cutouts from the newspaper for beautification purposes.
Town of Qualicum Beach CAO Daniel Sailland said the town was approached before the mystery spirit challenge to find out what the town does well.
“We discussed that and what it came down to was functional beauty and environmentally sound (structures),” Sailland said.
The judges for the competition, along with Sailland, included Mayor Teunis Westbroek and councillors Bill Luchtmeijer and Anne Skipsey and director of engineering Bob Weir.
Weir said judging was interesting and there was a lot of expertise within some members of the teams. He said the students had a broad base of understanding.
“It gave some insight into what an MBA program is trying to instil (in its students),” said Weir.
During their presentations, most of the students said the town and its businesses were incredibly willing to help in whatever way they could. Most of the teams spent less than half of their allotted $10 because most of their items were given to them by residents and businesses.
Seepersad, who is an international student from Trinidad, said this was her first time on this side of the country.
“This experience has been amazing. I’ve learned a lot, especially about the (First Nation) communities,” Seepersad said. “That’s also something I was never exposed to before.”
The 2017 MBA Games raised funds for the Moose Hide Campaign Development Society which is working to end violence against Indigenous and non-Indigenous women and children.
The MBA Games were held in Nanaimo with schools staying at Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa and Resort from Jan. 2-4. It was the first time in the annual competition’s 30-year history that it was held in B.C.