2020 Competition:


A Sustainable Transit Simulation


NASPAA and the Batten School Announce Global Winners of the 2020 Student Simulation Competition

Today, the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA) and the University of Virginia Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy announced the winners of the 2020 NASPAA- Batten Student Simulation Competition—the largest-ever student simulation competition in higher education.

There were 64 teams competing at 7 sites around the globe, devising and implementing public transport policies in order to create improved sustainability strategies for their virtual cities.

We are pleased to announce that the first place global winners of the 2020 NASPAA-Batten Simulation are…

  • Dontavious Waller: Georgia Southern University
  • Elizabeth Carter: University of Georgia
  • Kathryn Charpin: George Washington University
  • Leah Roach: Regent University
  • Rudolf-Victor de Leon Dinglas: University of Maryland Baltimore County

This team of five students, each representing their home university, competed at the George Mason University Schar School of Policy and Government.

They will receive an opportunity to present to the United Nations Association U.S.A. (UNA-USA) members on the topic of sustainable cities and communities via Webcast, a virtual networking session with the U.S. Youth Observer to the United Nations, a listing on UNA-USA’s website as the Global Competition Winning Team, and finally a generous cash prize offered by NASPAA.

“The results of this year’s student simulation competition shout, ‘this is the future of public service.’” said NASPAA Executive Director Laurel McFarland. “These winning teams proved that MPA/MPP students can do almost anything—analyze problems, apply systems thinking, collaborate successfully with brand new colleagues, write clearly and evidentiarily, present cogently, and imagine a better tomorrow. The future of public service is in good hands with these students, and no matter what challenges we may be facing globally at the moment, they will be contributing to a brighter future of healthy and sustainable cities.”

This year’s competition connected nearly 400 students from 114 universities in 46 countries through computer-based simulated game play at seven global host sites. The simulation, developed by experts at the Center for Leadership Simulation and Gaming (CLSG) and backed by extensive real-world data, placed competing students in leadership roles within a fast-paced environment where they worked together to build sustainable public transit infrastructure in their city.

In this simulation, students will work together in teams as they are faced with the challenge of managing a city through policy implementation and community engagement. In the roles of city council leaders (City Manager, Treasurer, Transportation Commissioner, Health Commissioner, Commissioner of Social Services), students had to decide which policies to implement in order to optimize the sustainable public transportation strategies to satisfy the needs of citizens in five unique districts.

“Previous simulations we have created include topics such as a Pandemic or a Refugee Crisis. This year, we developed a new simulation called the Metropolitan: A Sustainable Transit Simulation,” said CLSG Director Noah Myung. “The simulations we create are not only timely, but they also challenge students to be critical thinkers, decision makers, and leaders in their society. Our experiential learning takes place in both the computer-based and the role-based portions of the simulation.”

64 participating teams were evaluated on simulation scores, negotiation skills, and presentations made to their site judges, who selected seven regional winning teams. A panel of prominent “super judges” determined the global winners based on their simulation score, policy presentation and policy memo. The scores for the presentation and memo were based on the versatility, creativity, consideration of stakeholders, reas0ning, and completeness of their policy memo and presentation. In addition to the first-place team, they determined Second Place to be held by the five students competing at the School of Public Policy at Central European University in Budapest, Hungary. Finally, the award for Third-Place will go to four students competing at Pepperdine University School of Public Policy in Malibu, California. Second and third place global winners will receive a cash prize from NASPAA.

Second Place Team Members

  • Natia Mikelbaia: Georgian Institute of Public Affairs
  • Lodewijk Sebastiaan Beschoor Plug: Delft University of Technology
  • Benedek Farkas: Central European University
  • Sofia af Hällström: United Nations University
  • Rezaeva Anastasia: Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration

Third Place Team Members

  • Bridger Langfur: University of California San Diego
  • Victoria Williams: Oregon State University
  • Kevan Mellendick: Naval Postgraduate School
  • Georgina Perez: University of La Verne

A full list of winning teams is available on the NASPAA-Batten Student Simulation Competition website. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic causing many universities to temporarily convert to a virtual setting, CLSG will coordinate with academic users on utilizing this simulation for their classes immediately. Please go to www.clsgbatten.org for additional info.

See the US Winning Teams Featured on the UNA-USA Website!


CLICK HERE for the Inspiring Simulation Experience of the Participants at Central European University!

Thank you site and global judges

The following prominent transportation policy experts and public service professionals identified this year’s global winning team.


Claudia Adriazola-Steil
Deputy Director, Urban Mobility and Director, Health & Road Safety

Claudia Adriazola-Steil has worked in the transport sector for almost 20 years. As Director of Health and Road Safety at WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cites, she focuses on the intersection of sustainable mobility, climate change, public health and equity. Over the last 11 years at WRI, Claudia has been instrumental in developing one of the most innovative road safety programs in the world, significantly influencing the international agenda, as well as those of national and local governments. During her tenure, Claudia has led WRI’s Urban Mobility Program as Interim Director for a year and a half, advancing new partnerships and reshaping the mobility agenda to reflect the changes on new technology, including shared and autonomous vehicles, bike and scooter share programs, big data, among others.



Felipe Targa
Senior Urban Transport Specialist

Felipe is a Senior Urban Transport Specialist working at the World Bank. Former Colombia’s Deputy Transport Minister, university-based CityLab Director, and 20 years of experience in the public sector, multilateral development institutions, and research from academia. Advocate of bicycle urbanism, placemaking and human-scale cities.



Dana Michael Harsell
Associate Professor, Master of Public Administration Program in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at the University of North Dakota; NASPAA Simulation Fellow

Dana teaches courses in state and local government, public administration, and the intersection of business and government. He helps lead NASPAA’s Simulation Network, and is passionate about simulation-based learning. Dana has utilized both Pandemic and Migration simulations, developed by CLSG, in campus-based and online classes. Recent research contributions include an exploration of how and when small, rural governments utilize alternative service delivery methods to meet service demands (Journal of Rural Studies) and how local government leaders engage deliberative framing strategies when pursuing climate change mitigation and adaption policies within their jurisdictions (Journal of Environmental Planning and Policy).