January 14, 2013

Helen Hutchens ’15 Earns Tickets to President Obama’s Inauguration

Those watching President Barack Obama’s inauguration may see a familiar face in the crowd: Helen Hutchens ’15 (Lancaster, Pa.). The mechanical engineering major won tickets to the inauguration ceremony and official inaugural ball, both on Jan. 21, plus a prize of $1,000, in the Election Forecasting Contest sponsored by the Policy Studies program in connection with the College’s student-run election-night telecast Nov. 6.

Mechanical engineering major Helen Hutchens '15

Helen Hutchens ’15

This year’s “50 States of Grey” election broadcast marked the third election Lafayette students have covered as part of an economics course taught by Mark Crain, Simon Professor of Political Economy and chair of policy studies. Dozens of students from a variety of majors researched the issues and candidates, wrote scripts, created pre-recorded and live segments, and trained behind and in front of the camera. And, for the first time, the College teamed with WLVT Channel 39, the PBS affiliate in the Lehigh Valley, to produce the two-hour broadcast, which was available to millions of viewers through Channel 39 and by live-stream on the College’s website.

Watch a video about the broadcast
Watch the broadcast

The forecasting contest involved predicting the winners of Senate and House races and the outcome of the Electoral College vote in selected states. Hutchens’ tickets are being provided by Peter G. Jacoby ’81, vice president of federal relations at AT&T.

“It is important for undergraduates to develop the interest and the skills to be engaged and informed citizens while in college so that that interest will stay with them throughout their lives,” says Jacoby, who also provided tickets to the 2008 election forecast winner, Darlene Cerullo ’11. “Candidates, political campaigns, and elections are all really about presenting different choices that will impact the future quality of life for these undergraduates. Encouraging their interest and developing their skills to evaluate those choices is critical. If having the opportunity to participate in the inaugural events encourages healthy political engagement by Lafayette’s undergraduates, then it’s nice to be able to help with that incentive.”

Just like a campaign, Hutchens’ victory in predicting the winners of 30 races (10 U.S. House races, 10 U.S. Senate races, and 10 states in the presidential election) was a team effort. That’s why her brother, Mark, will accompany her.

The pair decided to use “informed statistics” to make their predictions. They used, New York Times writer Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog, and Wikipedia as sources. If they couldn’t predict a race, they flipped a dime as Franklin D. Roosevelt had the best record of any president. With good research and a little luck, they only missed five races.

posted in Engineering, News and Features, Students, Top News

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  1. Wow, Helen! I just read this news today! Congratulations!

    says Li
    January 26, 2013 at 11:28 am
  2. Congratulations Mark and Helen. A moment in history that brings us closer to the reality of our government in action instead of a just view on the media.

    says Karen Katz
    January 25, 2013 at 7:20 am
  3. Wunderbar!

    says Prof. Ed McDonald
    January 20, 2013 at 9:44 pm
  4. I’m so very proud of you Helen. You’ve come a long way since bouncing across my office floor :)
    You have the potential for doing good deeds and helping others, you have a kind heart and will be a “wonder” to the world and all people around you. I believe this. You were amazing to me from the very start.
    Go BIG and be HELPFUL always.


    says Bonnie Work
    January 16, 2013 at 11:28 am
  5. Congratulations Helen! :)

    says Serena Ashmore
    January 15, 2013 at 1:24 pm

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