Success 101

“Community building should be a key component to any ‘Introduction to Engineering’ course aimed at enhancing student success. An effective way I have found to introduce community building in my ‘Introduction to Engineering’ class is through the use of survival simulations.

“One particularly effective survival simulation is the ‘Sub-Artic (sic) Survival Situation’ developed by Human Synergistics International. The objective of the simulation is to build team consensus and develop decision-making skills by presenting a survival challenge in a remote area. The sub-artic (sic) survival situation is a scenario in which a plane crash has marooned survivors in a frigid and isolated environment with only minimal salvaged items. Team members are required to rank these items individually and then as a group, according to their survival value. The team ranks are compared to an “expert’s'” rank in order to provide a frame of reference. Generally, the team rank outscores the individual rank indicating efficient use of the group’s resources and team synergy. However, on occasion, individual rankings may outscore the group scores indicating a breakdown in group dynamics. Possible reasons for group breakdowns may be discussed with the students. Through this process, students are exposed to the behaviors and skills necessary for effective teamwork.

“The exercise is easy to facilitate. Participant booklets and a video describe the scenario (complete with a topographic map of the sub-artic (sic) region) and present the survival challenge. A scoring grid facilitates individual and team score comparisons. Especially dramatic is the accompanying video, which uses a sight-and-sound reenactment to provide a sense of realism that immediately engages the students.

“I have found that the sub-artic (sic) survival simulation is fun and naturally encourages student participation. It is a good ‘icebreaker’ for a freshman orientation class, and since the simulation is interactive and team-oriented, students gain an understanding of what is involved in the group decision-making process (group dynamics). Students learn that in order to ‘survive,’ they must cooperate and support one another, that the collective is greater than the individual, and that teamwork is necessary for enhancing their success in their academic and professional careers.”

Excerpt from:
Mark Tufenkjian
Survival Simulations
Success 101

Human Synergistics International thanks trainers, practitioners, consultants, and educators across the globe for making our team-building simulations the most widely used and acclaimed in the world.

Team-Building Simulations from Human Synergistics

The Subarctic Survival Situation is one of our most popular group problem-solving survival exercises. Developed by Dr. J. Clayton Lafferty and his colleagues, the simulation places participants in an isolated area of northern Canada where their plane has just crash landed and challenges them to rank, first individually and then as a team, 15 salvaged items in order of their importance to their survival.

Human Synergistics’ team-building simulations provide a unique opportunity to quickly and objectively measure whether your teams are achieving synergy. They are designed for team building, developing more constructive group processes, and demonstrating the impact of communication and collaboration on solution effectiveness. HSI offers a wide variety of team-building simulations in four series.

The Business Series
  • Project Planning Situation™
  • Meeting Effectiveness Situation™
  • Customer Complaint Situation™
  • Envisioning a Culture for Quality™
  • Cultural Change Situation™
  • Turnaround™
  • Coach – Co-achieving


Visit Human Synergistics’ website for more information.

All of HSI’s team-building simulations can be administered using a Leader’s Guide and one Participant’s Booklet for each group member.

Please note that all HSI simulation materials are copyrighted and may not be reproduced.
The Challenge Series
  • Organizational Change Challenge™
  • Critical Thinking Challenge™
  • Ethical Decision Challenge™
  • Constructive Negotiations Challenge™
  • Strategic Planning Challenge™
  • Performance Management Challenge™
  • Project Management Challenge™


Visit Human Synergistics’ website for more information.

All of HSI’s team-building simulations can be administered using a Leader’s Guide and one Participant’s Booklet for each group member.

Please note that all HSI simulation materials are copyrighted and may not be reproduced.
The Safety Series
  • Fire Safety Situation™
  • Back Injury Safety Situation™
  • Tornado Safety Situation™


Visit Human Synergistics’ website for more information.

All of HSI’s team-building simulations can be administered using a Leader’s Guide and one Participant’s Booklet for each group member.

Please note that all HSI simulation materials are copyrighted and may not be reproduced.
The Survival Series
  • Desert Survival Situation™
  • Desert II Survival Situation™
  • Bushfire Survival Situation™
  • Reef Survival Situation™
  • Tsunami Survival Situation™
  • Subarctic Survival Situation™
  • Cascades Survival Situation™
  • Earthquake Survival Situation™


Visit Human Synergistics’ website for more information.

All of HSI’s team-building simulations can be administered using a Leader’s Guide and one Participant’s Booklet for each group member. Some simulations have optional DVDs, which bring the situation to life by showing the outdoor scenario followed by the expert’s ranking and rationale.

Please note that all HSI simulation materials are copyrighted and may not be reproduced.