By Stephen Wilson

If you build it, will they come?

The it and the they can vary anytime someone is dreaming big as she stares at a field of dreams.

Student teams had to stare hard and study fast as they moved through a crash course on real estate and spent endless hours over a two-week period refining plans, crunching numbers, and building presentations.

While 10 teams started, only three made it to the finish line in the Real Estate Case Competition, held annually by the Dyer Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

With help from U3 AdvisorsUrban Land Institute, and notable alumni like developer J.B. Reilly ’83, student teams were asked to generate an income opportunity by developing a plot of land that surrounds Metzgar Fields Athletic Complex in Forks Township.

Each team was given 15 minutes to present its solution and then field some hardball questions from several real estate professionals who served as judges: Dan Huffenus ’86William Felton P’23, and Sheila McGrath ’87.

Image of Judges at introduction of competitionThe first team, Tewksbury Capital, led by Scott Fernandes ’22 and Jon Davis ’22, presented its solution of a hybrid facility that included a track, basketball courts, batting cages, and sports performance center. The team also outlined costs and potential corporate sponsors.

Then ATM, a team including Ainsley Jacobs ’21Tim Larsen ’22, and Meghan Haddad ’22, leveraged their knowledge as members of the track and field team to present a solution of a 300-meter track and turf field. Team members positioned their solution well with endorsement by a representative from USA Track and Field Mid-Atlantic Association and local leadership from Hearst, publisher of Runner’s World.

The final team of SSC Real Estate Advisors, made up of students Shantee Shand ’22Sarah Candido ’22, and Kristen Steudel ’22, positioned its facility as a regional draw with an abundance of basketball courts along with track and turf fields.

Tewksbury took home the gold, SSC the silver, and ATM the bronze.

On top of that, SSC earned the viewers’ choice award, which netted them an additional cash prize.

“This case was an excellent hands-on learning opportunity,” says Davis. “Outside of learning more about the technical aspects of real estate, this project provided me with a new perspective on how creative and idea driven this industry is.”

“I learned how to obtain the information necessary to develop a plan for a real-life complicated problem,” says Candido. “For example, I found many experts and experienced professionals were willing to help by providing their knowledge and wisdom.”

“The hardest part of preparing for the competition was learning all about real estate, reaching out to people, and learning how to do a pro forma in two weeks on top of classes,” says Steudel. “It was really a time crunch, and we had to work well dividing tasks among our team and helping each other out.”

All of that work paid off though. “The people’s choice win was really exciting to receive,” Steudel adds. Her teammate Shand says, “The win means that our presentation was memorable, polished, and connected with the audience.”

“Following our intuition with an inspired idea left us feeling more fulfilled than catering to what the school may have wanted,” says Jacobs. “We did something outside the box, and we are proud of that. The special thing about this competition and the Dyer Center is that they allow you to take artistic liberties and have so much autonomy over your own ideas.”

“While the Gateway Career Center Career Track program initiated my interest in real estate, the case competition immersed me into the world of real estate development,” says Haddad. “Since the college does not offer a real estate course, the Dyer Center provides diversified experiences for students to learn additional skills that will leverage job prospects in the future.”

“The win was a nice acknowledgment to the hard work we put in,” says Fernandes. “Overall it was an awesome opportunity to work alongside the Dyer Center, my teammate, and a few of our alumni, as well as compete with some like-minded successful students.”



Lafayette’s Real Estate Lab

helping Allentown residents learn how to invest in real estate and manage properties 

Real Estate Case Competition 2020

students develop solutions for realistic real estate problem