University News

WIU Students Place High in CME Trading Challenge

November 11, 2019

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MACOMB, IL – For the second time in recent years, a team of Western Illinois University students have finished high in the CME Group Trading Challenge, a four-week electronic trading competition.

This year's team was made up of Whitney Thomson, an MBA student from Quincy, IL; Bethany Petentler, a junior agriculture and pre-MBA major from Galesburg, IL; and Kye Witek, an economics graduate student from Steward, IL. The trio finished 44th out of 409 participating teams, placing them in the top 11 percent in the competition.

Last year's team finished 18th out of nearly 600 competing teams.

Team Adviser Professor Jason Franken said this year's competition ran from Oct. 6-Nov. 1 and allowed teams to trade future contracts for agricultural commodities, as well as metals, energies and exchange rates.

"Something different this year was that it was one shot, whereas in the past there was an initial round and the teams that did well enough made the cut for the final competition," said Franken. "I'm really proud of our team's effort even more so than the performance. Each team started off with $500,000 of 'play money' to trade with, and our students turned that into over $620,000 by the end of the competition."

Franken added that the team's placement was particularly impressive considering 290 of the teams lost money in the futures market.

"The competition is a great opportunity for experiential learning under pressure that tends to produce memorable lessons for students," he said.

The CME Challenge simulated trading contracts in commodity futures markets using CQG trading software.

For more information about WIU's School of Agriculture programming, visit

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