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Hosting the Simulation Competition

Is your school interested in hosting the NASPAA Student Simulation Competition?

NASPAA is always on the lookout for enthusiastic member schools to serve as host sites for future NASPAA Student Simulation Competitions. Host sites have the opportunity to create a meaningful, educational and exciting day for students from around the world as they compete and network in an immersive learning event while using a computer simulation designed for public service education. NASPAA simulations allow students to practice many skills required for effective policy-making and leadership, such as negotiation, data analysis and team management. If you are interested in hosting, please review the expectations listed on this page and email competition@naspaa.org.

What you need to know about Hosting the Simulation Competition

Here's what you can expect from hosting the NASPAA Student Simulation Competition. This competition is an educational and exciting experience for all participants, and our site hosts are critical to this success. If you have questions about the process, please reach out to Alex Minkoff, Manager of Simulation Education Programs, at minkoff@naspaa.org.   

  • Masters students in public-service degree programs must respond to a challenge presented by an interactive, educational computer simulation. They must work together to achieve their goals, and the simulation will give them a score based on their performance.
  • After the simulation portion of the day, students will prepare a policy memo to present what they learned to a panel of judges, which is followed by a Q&A. Students will need to clearly organize and present their thoughts as if they were practitioners justifying their course of action.
  • Judges will then proceed to give an informal panel about what they observed during the simulation competition. Students will be able to ask them questions.
  • The scores from the simulation and the scores from the judges will be tallied to determine the winner at each competition site. 
  • Finally. host sites have the option to put together a closing party to end the day.
  • Full-day event on a Saturday in late February or early March. These dates are usually determined in late Summer.
  • Host schools outside of the Americas usually run the competition in late February.
  • Host schools within the Americas usually run the competition in early March.
  • The default competition schedule is 9:00 AM-5:00 PM (local time).
  • Each site can expect to have approximately 40-60 people total.
  • The ability to participate in a fun and exciting competition experience.
  • Introduce your faculty to simulation education.
  • Inspiring and teaching the next generation of public service professionals.
  • Facilitate student learning with an educational simulation that teaches communication, negotiation, international relations, teamwork, and critical thinking skills.
  • Challenge students to understand and respond to the diversity, equity, and inclusion facets of public service.
  • Receive external visibility through pre-event and post-event recognition in local press releases, NASPAA newsletters, NASPAA social media, the post-competition program book, and on the NASPAA website.
  • Pre-event recognition at the NASPAA Annual Conference.
  • Opportunity to build faculty expertise in simulation pedagogy;
  • Opportunity to learn how to use sophisticated simulation approaches in the classroom;  
  • Opportunity to engage alumni as judges, volunteers, or contributors to the competition;
  • Opportunity to showcase your school to students and judges from the region.

The NASPAA Institute of Innovative Teaching and Learning for Public Service will design and execute the competition as well as facilitate the simulation at the host school. NASPAA, as a whole, will complete the following: 

  • Prepare and design the content of the simulation and the logistics for the competition including agendas, slideshows and scripts.
  • Provide a NASPAA staff person to lead the competition in-person at the host site, or, offer a stipend to the host school if they provide their own site leader.
  • Prepare educational background content to supplement the simulation.
  • Work with the host school to secure judges for the competition.
  • Prepare a press release template and social media templates to be used by the host school to promote the competition.
  • Conduct virtual training sessions for site leaders and judges prior to the competition.
  • Create a competition ‘Run of Show’ document for the event, as a step-by-step guide for site leaders and judges.
  • Design a virtual volunteer form to be distributed by <<HostSchool>> to help secure 1-2 student volunteers.
  • Distribute simulation manuals to students prior to competition day;
  • Prepare and send communications to host site leaders and students during the competition preparation period (approximately a 30-day time period prior to the competition day).
  • Market the competition through NASPAA’s website, newsletter, and social media (Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram)
  • Arrange for virtual technical simulation support during the competition; 
  • Conduct a post-competition survey and evaluate the competition for improvement.

Each host school plays a key role in ensuring competition success. While the NASPAA team handles most of the planning and coordination, the host school will determine some of the event logistics.


  • Workspace
    • Provide one large meeting space for introductions and concluding presentations. It should be able to hold 60 people (45-55 students and various staff and volunteers). If this room is used for students to play the simulation, it will need readily accessible power outlets.
    • Provide two or three classrooms to allow students to break into teams and sit around tables in addition to the large meeting space. Rooms with readily accessible power outlets are necessary, and the rooms should be relatively close to the large meeting space.
    • Room set up: for the breakout classrooms, the room should be set up into (X) tables for the countries where student teams will meet 
  • A/V and Media
    • Wi-Fi access
    • Video recording for up to two hours at the end of the competition to record the final presentations. The host school does not need to hire a professional, but the audio and visual of the recording needs to be high quality, meaning the presentations done by the students need to be reviewable by the Global Judges–audio heard and slides shown.
    • Projectors or TV setup in the large meeting space and the breakout classrooms.


Food & Beverage

  • The night before the competition (Friday evening)
    • Host an informal networking event for students and judges on campus or at a local restaurant or pub the night before the competition.
    • Provide appetizers and/or dinner.
    • (Preferable but not required) provide up to two alcoholic beverages to participants.
    • NOTE: If serving alcohol, the university must provide a Certificate of Liquor Liability Insurance. During the competition day, the host provides coffee and water, light breakfast options, lunch, and late afternoon snacks. Host sites can also have an informal celebration after the competition, but this is optional.
  • Competition day
    • Coffee and light breakfast
    • Box lunches or simple catering for competitors who will eat while working. This could be sandwiches, pizza, buffet style, etc. NASPAA will collect and provide a list of dietary restrictions ahead of time.
    • Afternoon coffee and snacks (chips, pretzels, vegetables and dip are all fine)
  • Post-Competition (optional)
    • Informal celebration event


Support Staff

  • Host Representative: This person will be the main point of contact for the NASPAA team before the competition and will oversee site logistics. This person must be a faculty member, staff member, or graduate student. The site leader will need to be available during January and February for 2-3 meetings to coordinate with NASPAA on preparations for the site.
  • Technical Support: This person or department will be on call for technical support (computers and other technology infrastructure) during the competition. Preferably, this person will be a member of the host site's I.T. department. They do not need to be familiar with the simulation itself. They would be responsible for maintaining internet access and providing A/V technical support.
  • Judges: There will be at least three on-site judges during the competition, and NASPAA requests the assistance of the host school in securing these judges. The timeline in Appendix II details when the assistance is needed, and Appendix III provides the necessary criteria, expectations and materials to use for the judge recruitment. A judge can be a faculty member, alumnus/alumna with experience, local practitioner, etc.; familiarity and/or expertise in the public service topic or related fields is highly desirable but is not a requirement.
  • Site Leader (OPTIONAL) - As stated above under "NASPAA Responsibilities," NASPAA will provide a site leader to manage the simulation comopetition at the host school UNLESS the host school is interested in providing their own site leader. The host school will receive a stipend and the provided site leader will receive the same training and materials that are given to a NASPAA staff site leader. Email Alex Minkoff at minkoff@naspaa.org to learn more about this opportunity.


Printed Materials

  • On the competition day, the host site will have printed out the following materials, which will be emailed ahead of time by NASPAA:
    • Sign-in sheet
    • Name tags
    • Judge rubrics
    • Signs for team tables (Group 1, Group 2, etc.)