Video feature: 'Princeton Orange Bowl'

Feb. 19, 2013 noon
Orange Bowl index

Princeton students recently participated in the annual Princeton Orange Bowl, an event in which teams compete to build the best virtual orange juice business. In this video, senior Hannah Steele (above) talks about her experience in the game.

Video stills courtesy of Nick Barberio

The juice might have been virtual but the competition was real when Princeton undergraduates recently kicked off the annual Princeton Orange Bowl — or "OJ Game" — an event in which teams compete to build the best virtual orange juice business. In a single grueling day after extensive preparation, groups of students buy and sell virtual orange or orange juice futures, sign contracts, and arrange for manufacturing, shipping and storage. From a computerized control room, a group of faculty and graduate students monitor the students' progress and throw the occasional cold front or orange blight their way.

"The game allows people to learn to not only solve difficult analytical problems, but to also do so in teams," said Warren Powell, a professor of operations research and financial engineering who has run the event for more than 15 years. "At the end of the day, it really boils down to how well they work together."

The competition, highlighted in this video, is the culmination of the students' efforts in "Operations and Information Engineering," a senior-level course that focuses on applying mathematical analysis to complex systems. 

"We have been working now for two or three months on this game, spent some late nights," said Will Harrel, the leader of the HarrelsBarrels team.

Although the game forces the students to think on their feet, Powell said, they have to crunch the numbers to be successful.

"You cannot win this game by luck," Powell said. "You have to do analysis. It's careful planning and execution that wins."