Some people struggle to make even small returns on an investment, but one Brigham Young University student proved that, given a little common sense, it is not hard to make money.

Brad Brown, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering, recently won an investment challenge sponsored by BYU's Finance Society and the Provo financial firm, Shearson Lehman Hutton Inc.During the month of October, Brown got nearly a 100 percent return on his initial investment of $500,000.

Even though it was only a game, "games make you think," Brown said. "I used the same principles in the game that I use when I invest my own money."

Brown's basic principles include the preservation of his capital.

"I want to ensure my profitability, and I give myself a limit of how much I will lose before I sell, and I do sell when I reach that point," he said.

Another important doctrine in Brown's investing is to stick to industries he knows something about.

Some people will see that the computer industry is doing well, so they will buy into it, he said. But they don't know a thing about computers or how to tell whether the products or industry will continue to do well.

Brown said that he had decided if he could make at least a 5 percent return 20 times during the month, he could get $1 million.

"Consistency would make up for the times when the return was less," he said. And a few times he got up to a 20 percent return.

"Some people went into this competition just to see how well they could do," Brown said. "I went in to win."

Brown has been investing money since he was 14 and said he has been able to pay for his schooling through his investments.

Brown said his family is not finance-oriented. "My father just taught me what to look for to make good investments," he said.

He said this contest would be a great part of a resume to show that he knows how to handle money.

Chris Yorges, vice president of the BYU Finance Society, said about 200 people participated in the challenge.

Most of them did well, he said. But Brown was the clear winner and "we hope that the program will continue to get better." The Finance Society is already planning next year's challenge.

So why is Brown studying mechanical engineering? He said it was a challenge, and he already knew how to work with money.

Brown would like to be an analyst and eventually work into money management.