NU students Bryan Smiley, Michael Brass, Allyssa Wadsworth and Cory Piper at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Niagara University was one of over 40 teams that competed at the preliminary rounds of the 2015 College Fed Challenge in New York City. The College Fed Challenge is a competition designed to bring real-world economics into the classroom. Teams play the role of monetary policymakers by analyzing economic conditions and recommending a course for monetary policy.

Representing Team Niagara were Michael Brass, Cory Piper, Bryan Smiley and Allyssa Wadsworth, accompanied by their faculty advisor, Dr. Jay Walker, assistant professor of economicsDr. Kristine Principe, assistant professor of economics, is also a co-advisor and traveled to last year’s competition.

To compete, teams of 3-5 students give a presentation on the economy and participate in a Q-and-A with the judges. Judges are New York Fed economists and staff who are experts on economics and monetary policy.

Dr. Walker explained the benefits of prepping a team for the competition, “I hoped to foster an interest in economic policy beyond what might be gained as part of a regular class. Federal Reserve policy affects us all and a better understanding of that can improve decision making for career and business decisions.”

Dr. Walker commented that the team members actually began reading up on and preparing over the summer, and then they met 1-2 times a week to discuss current events and how to prepare their presentation. Dr. Walker complimented the students on their work ethic. “This marked the second straight year we have fielded a team after a period of dormancy, with Allyssa being the only returning member. We used a lot of the lessons learned from last year’s experience and took a strong team to the competition. I am proud of all the members and glad to have had the chance to travel to NYC for the competition.”

The Fed Challenge is designed to meet the following goals:

  • to increase understanding of macroeconomics and the Federal Reserve’s role in setting U.S. monetary policy and ensuring financial stability.
  • to promote interest in economics as a subject for study and the basis for a career.
  • to foster a cooperative relationship among students, teachers and the New York Fed.

Brass, who is studying finance as well as minoring in both international management and economics, remarked, “As a finance student, it was very beneficial to tour the financial district of NYC for the first time. I learned a great deal about monetary policy as well as what our Federal Reserve does for the country. I would recommend any finance or economic majors to take part in the Fed Challenge, its hard work but well worth the time!”

Piper, a political science major, added about the value of preparing for and attending the competition, “The Fed Challenge was a great experience as it took my knowledge from the classroom and applied it to the real world. I learned some new things along the way that will hopefully give me an advantage in the future.”

Dr. Walker advised, “While we did not advance to the second round, we received favorable feedback with specific information about how we can improve for next year’s competition. As we build a tradition of participating and have more students with experience in the competition, we can become more competitive.”

Smiley, a marketing major, describes his experience, “It was a time consuming activity, but worth it. I’d recommend it to students as you gain experience presenting professionally and learn the inner workings of monetary policy.”

Wadsworth, captain of the team pursuing an economics degree with a minor in accounting, added, “It was a nice experience to be able to compete on the Fed Challenge team for a second year and work with Michael, Cory and Bryan. The amount of teamwork and dedication everybody showed made both the preparation and competition enjoyable. Being able to speak in front of judges and participate in a question-and-answer session is a skill that is better learned through practice. This competition has been a perfect environment to do just that.”