Tuesday, April 3, 2018
  Alumni, Announcements, Awards and Recognitions, Community

By Victoria Brito

Brownsville, Texas A group of undergraduate business students from The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in March beat out more than 500 teams from 37 countries to capture their first ever championship win in the 15th annual CME Group Trading Challenge.

The UTRGV team – made up of students Christopher Martinez, of McAllen; Michael Villarreal, of Rio Grande City; and Jose Naveja, of Progreso – finished the competition with a total of $706,585, handily beating out second-place competitor Kansas State University, who earned $533,910.

The Trading Challenge is a complimentary four-week electronic trading competition in which teams of university students trade CME Group products from different asset classes. The trading environment is simulated, and works on a real-time professional trading platform provided by CQG.

The UTRGV team, named UTRGV-EDINBURG-2, said they were guided and prepared well by Dr. Bruno Arthur, lecturer II in UTRGV Economics and Finance, and faculty advisor for the first-place team as well as The Trading Association student organization.

“We thank Dr. Arthur for guiding us to be successful traders – in the classroom, within our student organization The Trading Association, and throughout the 2018 CME Group Challenge,” the team members said in a statement. “We believe that teamwork pushed us through to victory by allowing us to check each other’s ideas.”

Rounding out the top five in the challenge were:

  • The University of Malaya, Malaysia, third place, $513,120.18
  • Universidad de Bogotá Jorge Tadeo Lozano, Colombia, fourth place, $473,922.50
  • And Johns Hopkins University, fifth place, $437, 351.25

The UTRGV champions are undergraduates in the UTRGV Robert C. Vackar College of Business and Entrepreneurship and members of the student organization, The Trading Association. To prepare for the challenge, they also took relevant courses, such as financial derivatives, or money and banking, in the Department of Economics and Finance.

A total of three undergraduate teams from the Edinburg Campus, one undergraduate team from the Brownsville Campus, and one graduate team at the MBA level, represented UTRGV at the competition.

“This year was spectacular because our student winners made it so that they were untouchable,” Arthur said. “At a final balance of $706,585, they are far above the second-place $533,910, as compared to previous years’ final results,”

In 2017, the UTRGV undergraduate team ranked 18th out of 595 participants in the CME Trading Challenge.


The four-week electronic trading competition is open exclusively to teams of currently enrolled graduate and undergraduate students, offering them a chance to learn hands-on techniques for trading futures across all major asset classes on CQG's real-time professional trading platform. The trading challenge also helps educate the next generation of finance professionals on the significance of CME Group's global derivatives markets.

The teams were given $100,000 in simulation money to trade in the first round. After two weeks of playing the market, teams were ranked, and only the top 10 percent – about 53 teams – advanced to the championship round. In the second round, teams were provided with $250,000 for an additional two weeks of trade, and were ranked one final time.

The UTRGV team achieved 182.63 percent returns in two weeks of trading using CQG’s tools.

“The key to trade is that our students long undervalued assets or short overvalued assets,” Arthur said. “Our students do a lot of fundamental and technical analyses. They create portfolios, and continue watching the asset classes – including those that are not in their portfolios – to make a profit.”

In addition to taking the top spot, the three students won a cash prize, and airfare and hotel to attend a one-day market education conference at the CME Group in April.

ABOUT CME GROUP           

CME Group provides a wide range of risk management education. In addition to interactive events like the Trading Challenge, CME Group partners with other industry organizations to offer educational tools, such as Futures Fundamentals, a one-stop educational resource that explains the role of futures markets in everyday life. CME Group exchanges offer a wide range of global benchmark products across all major asset classes, including futures and options based on interest rates, equity indexes, foreign exchange, energy, agricultural products and metals.


The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.