Students experience land-use decision process in UrbanPlan Competition

The event at Elon provided students with an opportunity to learn about the different forces affecting the development of communities.

Nearly two dozen Martha and Spencer Love School of Business students participated in Elon’s first UrbanPlan Competition, held in partnership with the Urban Land Institute.

Students standing around a table talking
Xuan Huynh ’24 shares an idea with her team during the UrbanPlan Competition.

The one-day event, hosted by the Center for Financial Literacy and coordinated by Assistant Professor of Finance Margarita Kaprielyan, challenged teams to build an urban plan and propose realistic land use solutions to a panel of real estate professionals serving as judges.

Teams were provided with a description of a city and the city’s goals in a new urban development. Each team consisted of students taking on the roles of financial analyst, marketing director, city liaison, neighborhood liaison, site planner and sustainability director.

“Participating in the UrbanPlan competition was such a great experience because so much of it was focused on teamwork and how to incorporate everyone’s idea to get a final plan,” Nicole Hill ’25 said. “I learned a lot about how important it is to play a role in your group and how in the workforce this happens on a daily basis.”

five students standing
Nicole Hill ’25, Lily Cooper ’24, Caitlynn Collins ’24, Miki Radan ’24, Elizabeth Sulley ’25 and Holden Taylor ’25 won the 2022 Elon UrbanPlan Competition.

Hill, Lily Cooper ’24, Caitlynn Collins ’24, Miki Radan ’24, Elizabeth Sulley ’25 and Holden Taylor ’25 comprised the winning team.

“I found it valuable to work with some peers that I have never met before as we contributed many different ideas,” Sulley said. “I think having so many different opinions but being able to have a common goal really helped us to win this competition and prepare us for future group projects!”

Teams experienced challenging issues, private and public sector roles, complex trade-offs and fundamental economics in play when proposing realistic land use solutions to vexing growth challenges. For many participants, the competition was their first exposure to urban planning and land-use decisions.

“Before the day started, I was so nervous to attend the UrbanPlan competition because I didn’t know anyone and had no experience,” Collins shared. “Throughout the day, I became so much more comfortable and really enjoyed the process and meeting new people. Now, I am so excited to continue learning about urban planning and want to compete in more business competitions available through Elon!”