Stamford

UConn-Stamford Team Competes in the 2021 College Fed Challenge

This Fall 2021, UConn Stamford team participated again in the College Fed Challenge national competition. College Fed Challenge is a team competition for undergraduate students. Teams analyze economic and financial conditions and formulate a monetary policy recommendation, modeling the Federal Open Market Committee.

In 2021 the competition once again was virtual. Each team had to create and then upload a 15-minute video presentation encompassing the following:

  1. An analysis of current economic conditions (as of the day of the competition); these conditions may include broad macroeconomic conditions as well as conditions experienced in different geographic areas, in urban/rural areas, or among different demographic and socioeconomic groups (e.g., racial and ethnic groups, age groups), borrowers and savers, etc.
  2. A forecast of near-term economic and financial conditions relevant to the formulation of monetary policy.
  3. A discussion of significant risks to the economy that should receive special attention in formulating monetary policy; these risks may include the possible effects (positive or negative) of monetary policies on different segments of the population.
  4. A monetary policy recommendation, encompassing both traditional tools and newer approaches as warranted; presenters should give supporting reasons for their recommendation.

The Stamford team consisted of six students who divided their responsibilities for research, organization, presentation, and video creation according to their passions, skills, and interests. Here is the team:

Aidan Connolly (Captain) is a seasoned team leader with extensive experience in data-driven decision making. He is currently finishing his final semester at The University of Connecticut, where he will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics this December. Aidan was elected by his peers to lead the UConn College Fed Challenge Team. His areas of expertise include public speaking, sustainable economic practices, and quantitative modeling. Aidan enjoys cycling, skiing, and socializing in his free time. After graduation in December of 2021, Aidan will continue to consult with the UConn College Fed Challenge Team and begin his career in software sales. Read Aidan’s reflection about the course here.

Gabriella Barg is a senior majoring in Economics with a minor in Accounting. Taking part in the Fed challenge in her remaining semesters has been one of the most academically enriching adventures in her undergrad. The freedom to choose what to research in the current American economy within diverse themes is an informative experience. After spring 2022 graduation, she looks forward to carrying on her refined skills in her professional life, pursuing a Master’s in Accounting Fall 2022. Read Gabriella’s reflection about the course here.

Jorge Cuautla Jr. is a proficient researcher with substantive experience. Combined with the resourcefulness and analytical capabilities, the introduction of the College Fed Challenge was the perfect opportunity to showcase his research abilities. Jorge’s focus as a member of the College Fed Challenge team was the United States Gross Domestic Product (or GDP). The participation in the College Fed Challenge expanded Jorge’s employment opportunities. With positions offered by Amazon, PepsiCo, Northwestern Mutual, and much more, it was difficult to narrow down a future home. Post-graduation, Jorge will continue his macroeconomics research while working as an Analyst at TD Bank. Read Jorge’s reflection about the course here.

Matt Gilshteyn is a sophomore at UConn, majoring in Marketing Management. This is his second semester as a Practicum team member. This course helped him develop a better understanding of the Federal Reserve’s influence on our economy and how real-life projects are completed. The class also demonstrated how different sectors and industries contribute to the decisions of the Federal Reserve. Matt selected the energy sector in hopes of better understanding this sector and its operations. He focused on renewable energy because it showed serious potential for growth within the energy sector. Researching and interpreting data was very insightful, and the skills that he developed helped explain how the energy sector can impact the Fed’s decision. Read Matt’s reflection about the course here.

Sava Logvinski is an experienced negotiator, with an extensive background in team development. His ambitions are high, and dreams are endless. Sava is one who emphasizes the value of asking questions. He enjoys learning new concepts and is quick to grasp them. The Fed Challenge allowed him to gain a holistic approach to monetary policy, implementing his fundamental economic analysis obtained at UConn. He focused on the sector of employment, specifically on automation and future outlook. As a senior majoring in Economics, Sava interviewed this semester with several companies. After careful consideration, he decided to accept his offer with Celonis starting January 2022. Celonis is the world’s leading process mining software company. Process Mining is a new big data analytics technology designed to help customers optimize their operations. Process Mining goes through the already existing log data every IT system produces and finds out where improvements are needed. Why? In order to be more efficient than your competitors, get rid of bottlenecks, make your customers even happier and create processes that everybody loves to deal with. The Fed Challenge prepared Sava with public speaking and presentation skills needed to succeed in the world of sales. Through studying new AI technology and understanding the economic impacts, he was able to identify proper use cases, and deliver. He is excited to begin his journey post graduation, and help businesses unlock full execution capacity. Read Sava’s reflection about the course here.

Ashley Balta (alternate) grew up in Greenwich and graduated from Greenwich High School. Ashley is a first-generation college student, and she participated in the AVID program to help her with the process of higher education. At UConn, she majored in Economics. Ashley enjoys the arts as she has been dancing ballet at the Ballet School of Stamford since the age of 3. As a member of the diversity club, she continued her volunteering work for the AVID program as a mentor. Currently, Ashley is starting the foundation of her small-Hispanic-owned business. After graduation, she plans to pursue her master’s for further education. Since joining the Fed Challenge course over the summer, she realized it was the perfect opportunity to increase her knowledge of several sectors of the economy. Being a student-led class, this course taught her the fundamentals of planning, impact instructions, and work-related responsibilities. Read Ashley’s reflection about the course here.

All students worked diligently and cooperatively through two semesters. The final video presentation can be seen here. Even though, the Stamford team was not selected to advance into the final round, the team is proud of the work they have done.

As students’ reflections show, the participation in the Challenge is very rewarding. In addition to learning about the economy and monetary policy, students gain skills in research, analysis, and teamwork, all of which are transferable to their future careers and academic endeavors.

Congratulations UConn – Stamford College Fed Challenge Team 2021!

 

Photo (left to right): Jorge Cuautla, Gabriella Barg, Ashley Balta, Sava Logvinski, Dr. Smirnova, Matt Gilshteyn, Aidan Connolly.

Stamford Economics Students Explore FACTSET Data Platform

FactSet creates data and software solutions for investment professionals around the world, providing instant access to financial data and analytics that investors use to make crucial investment decisions. The company was founded in 1978 and is headquartered in Norwalk, CT, a short distance from the Stamford campus.

All UConn Stamford students now have access to FactSet data portal through the terminals located in Jeremy Richard Library. Because students in Dr. Smirnova’s Financial Economics (ECON 3413) class are engaged in a project valuating a company of their choice, they used FactSet to get financial performance data and other information about the company they have selected, its competitors, and the industry, in which the company operates. However, there is a lot more depth to FactSet.

UConn Stamford Center for Career Development had arranged for a special (virtual) visit of FactSet’s Academic Specialist, Andi Huff, to Financial Economics class. On November 18, 2021, Andi demonstrated for students many features of FactSet portal. This knowledge will help students not only in completing the semester project, but also in developing skills in data analytics, and in utilizing this data source in other Economics courses as well as in other disciplines.

Ms. Andi Huff also introduces students to various career opportunities available at FactSet, such as Student Ambassador Program, Internships, and Client Solutions Associates positions.

Economics majors are prepared for a diverse range of careers, but jobs in data analytics are of a particular interest nowadays. Availability of FactSet’s platform at the Stamford campus plays an important role in enhancing our students’ readiness for careers in this field.

Professor Smirnova Receives Stamford Faculty Recognition Award 2021

During the Stamford campus Convocation ceremony on September 9, 2021, Professor Smirnova received the 2021 Faculty Recognition Award given to faculty member who goes above and beyond the call of duty to serve the students and the campus. According to the Award criteria, the nominee should have a balanced and thorough record of achievement in the areas of scholarship, teaching, and service.

In addition to teaching various Economics courses, Dr. Smirnova was recognized for her work with students as academic adviser, as club advisor to the College Fed Challenge Stamford team, as Career Champion, and the organizer of several community outreach events.

During 2020-2021 academic year, Dr. Smirnova collaborated with Political Science Department, Center for Career Development, Honors Program, and UConn Foundation to bring two well-attended career-focused events to Stamford campus:

Dr. Smirnova also serves as the Economics Department liaison to the Early College Experience Program, which works with high schools across Connecticut. In 2020-2021, the Economics was the largest discipline of the ECE program, working with 68 instructors teaching 52 courses.

The scholarship of Dr. Smirnova encompasses her work on pedagogy, promotion of women in economics, and supporting students with their research aspirations. To this end in 2021, Dr. Smirnova was instrumental in sending her students to the Diverse Economics conference and the National Conference on Women in Economics WE are Resilient.

Her own research on data visualization use in the undergraduate classroom was showcased at the TeachECONference2021 organized jointly by Cornell University and the University College of London.

At the Convocation, Dr. Smirnova shared her passion for teaching and working with students and encouraged students to seek resources that will help them succeed.

Alexander Vaninsky publishes in Environment Systems and Decisions

Professor Alexander Vaninsky, a long-time economics instructor at the Stamford Campus, recently published the article “Multiobjective restructuring aimed at green economic growth” in Environment Systems and Decisions (February 2021) https://rdcu.be/ch3UZ

ABSTRACT

This research introduces an approach to the structural optimization of national economies resulting in green economic growth.  This study considers the comparative advantages of the sectors of the economy in the final product ratio, energy intensity, and carbonization of the gross output. The input–output model is transformed to a structured form, and the projected gradient of the gross domestic product (GDP) is derived. Factorial models of energy consumption and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are developed and used to obtain the projected antigradients of these indicators. Each of these vectors determine the locally

optimal structural change for each dimension. Their components are found to be proportional to the sectoral deviations from the national average, thus revealing a sectorwise comparative advantage or disadvantage. This observation allowed us to characterize these components as Ricardian gradients. Although it is not possible to move in each of the three vectors concurrently, it is possible to direct the economic restructuring to make the least possible acute angles with each vector.  Thus, the locally Pareto-optimal vector of structural change is formed. At each moment in time, the system is directed to move alongside this vector or by the boundary. The suggested approach is applied to simulate the economies of China and the United States. The obtained results reveal that the suggested changes in the structure of the gross output simultaneously allowed for an increase in GDP, a decrease in energy consumption, and the mitigation of CO2 emissions. Applications to international cooperation and trade are discussed.

 

Diverse Journeys: Social Sciences Alumni Career Panel

On Thursday, February 25th, 2021, UConn Stamford students were treated to a special discussion “Diverse Journeys: Social Sciences Alumni Career Panel” featuring UConn Stamford alumni of color who majored in social sciences and now work in a variety of interesting and diverse careers.

The panelists were:

Daniel Caceres ’14 (CLAS), Real Estate Agent, YB Realty.

Saif Syed ’16 (CLAS), Investment Banking Associate, Goldman Sachs.

Destini Pereira ’19 (CLAS), Associate Project Manager, Lockwood.

Andrea Lopez ’14 (CLAS), Research Associate, Teachers College, Columbia University.

The participants shared candid insights and perspectives about job search and navigating the workplace as a person of color. Panelists also provided perspectives on how their educational experiences at UConn Stamford shaped their career journeys and put them on the path to success.

This event was organized by UConn Stamford — Department of Economics, Department of Political Science, the Center for Career Development, and the Honors Program in partnership with the UConn Foundation.

The recording of the event can be watched using this link.

Stamford Team Competes in the College Fed Challenge 2020

This year, the College Fed Challenge competition was virtual. It was a challenging transition to understand the intricacies of new rules and regulations and to pivot in September to be ready by October 9. But the UConn-Stamford team was well-organized, enthusiastic, and well-prepared to put forward the arguments that the current economic situation warrants keeping the target federal funds rate unchanged.

The 2020 team consisted of five Stamford students: Cullen Murphy (ACES, sophomore), You Kim (Financial Management and Economics, senior), Shayla Siljkovic (Linguistics and Philosophy, sophomore), Eileen Zhu (Economics, junior), and Rashana Weerasinghe (Business Data Analytics, sophomore). They worked virtually; very diligently, creatively, and collaboratively. They describe the challenges of this new environment as the loss of a camaraderie of in-person interactions, technical difficulties, and physical isolation. However, the presentation that they put forward combines the intellectual rigor of each member, deep research of economic indicators, and a collective vision of what the forecast of current economic conditions looks like.

You can watch their presentation here.

Our team did not make the next round of the competition this year, which is, of course, disappointing. However, the learning that has occurred was a worthwhile experience. First, each student has developed an expertise in a selected economic indicator or industry: each team member researched, constructed graphs, and made connections with overall economic development as well as with monetary policy implications. Furthermore, students gained highly valuable skills such as critical thinking and teamwork. These are the skills that are transferable to other professional environments such as a graduate school or a workplace.

You can read the students’ reflections here:

Cullen Murphy – Stamford Fed Challenge 2020

You Kim – Stamford Fed Challenge 2020

Shayla Siljkovic – Stamford Fed Challenge 2020

Rashana Weerasinghe – Stamford Fed Challenge 2020

Eileen Zhu – Stamford Fed Challenge 2020

The course that will be used to prepare a team for the next year’s competition is ECON 3492 – Practicum. It is offered every semester. Stamford students who are interested in joining the team should contact Dr. Smirnova. The student’s major does not matter – all majors are welcome! What matters is the desire to learn about the economy and monetary policy, and to be open-minded to work well in a team.

 

Stamford Campus Hosts Women Alumnae

Students at Stamford campus were treated to an amazing event on November 12, 2020. A virtual panel discussion featuring UConn Stamford alumnae who majored in social sciences (COMM, ECON, HDFS and POLS) called “Breaking the Mold: Women in Social Sciencesattracted almost 100 students.

A recording of the event may be found online at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQK8qMAPrXs&feature=youtu.be

The five UConn Stamford alumnae who were featured work in a variety of interesting and diverse careers. These women created their own paths, in unconventional ways, in areas where women are often underrepresented. During the event, they provided insights into how their educational experiences at UConn shaped their career journeys and put them on the path to success!

Panelists:

  • Harriet Munrett Wolfe (’76 CLAS) is the Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for Webster Bank and Webster Financial Corporate. She has a bachelor’s degree in political science from UConn and a J.D. from Pepperdine University School of Law.
  • Maureen Hanley (’92 CLAS) is the Senior Vice President of The First Bank of Greenwich. Maureen has a bachelor’s degree in political science from UConn.
  • Anne McAuley Lopez (’96 CLAS) is the lead writer and owner of McAuley Freelance Writing. She has a bachelor’s degree in economics from UConn.
  • Katherine Velez (’10 CLAS) is a Research Coordinator at Columbia University Medical Center. She has a bachelor’s degree from UConn in Human Development and Family Studies and an MSW from Fordham University.
  • Brianna Walston (’17 CLAS) is the Founder of Brianna Regine Visionary Consulting, LLC. She has a bachelor’s degree in communications from UConn.

Students learned how one’s career evolves post-graduation, how to find a mentor, and how to navigate the job search environment during the pandemic. During the Q&A, students asked questions about challenges that women face in the workplace and how to leverage one’s education and mentorship relationships for the successful steering of a career.

Overall, the panelists offered many positive and constructive suggestions, helping students keep faith in themselves even during the uncertain times of a pandemic.

This program was hosted by UConn Stamford: Political Science and Economics Departments, the Center for Career Development, and the Honors Program in partnership with the UConn Foundation.

By Natalia V. Smirnova