October 13, 2010

Lafayette, Reigning National Champion in College Fed Challenge, Will Host Regional Competition

Lafayette's national champion College Fed Challenge team with U.S. Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke (holding trophy)

The College Fed Challenge team will begin its quest for the College’s second consecutive national championship Nov. 1, when Lafayette, in conjunction with the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, hosts a regional Fed Challenge competition at Pfenning Alumni Center.

Last December, Lafayette’s Fed Challenge team outperformed Harvard, Northwestern, and Rutgers-Newark in a simulated meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee at the Federal Reserve Board in Washington, D.C., to win the 2009-10 national crown.

Sponsored by some of the nation’s Federal Reserve banks, the College Fed Challenge encourages better understanding of the U.S. central bank, the forces influencing economic conditions in this country and abroad, and the ways the economy affects everyone’s lives. The regional contest at Lafayette also will include Princeton, Lehigh, Gettysburg, Delaware, the College of New Jersey, Saint Francis, Elizabethtown, and Shippensburg. The winning team will advance to the championship round at the end of November.

James DeVault, associate professor of economics, and Julie Smith, assistant professor of economics, are Lafayette’s faculty advisers again this year.

“Given that we have two members returning from last year’s national championship team, I think we should certainly be competitive at the regional and national levels,” says DeVault, who is organizing the competition at Lafayette.

The returning members are Nicholas Stacey ’11 (Mbabane, Swaziland), a math and economics double major, and Dylan McNamara ’11 (Pasadena, Md.), a math major. New members are economics majors Kirtika Challa ’12 (Mumbai, India), Laura Wong Hon Chan ’12 (Tombeau Bay, Mauritius), and Haley Huffines ’12 (Dallas, Texas); international economics and commerce major Nan Li ’12 (Shanghai, China); and mathematics-economics majors Marc Tancer ’11 (Montville, N.J.), and Miao Wang ’12 (Cheng De He Bei, China).

In the Fed Challenge, teams give a 20-minute presentation on monetary policy then defend their position during a 15-minute round of intensive questioning by the judges. The teams are judged on content, teamwork, responses to questions, presentation, and style.

Lafayette’s team, hand-picked by faculty, has been preparing for the competition since the beginning of the academic year.

“It’s not just about brainpower. Interpersonal skills are important,” DeVault says. “The students also have to be cool under fire and speak well. Enthusiasm is just as important as academics.”

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