Gatton College Students Place First in 2021 Econ Games

Gatton College of Business and Economics students Ben Davison, Jaclyn Fischesser, Luke Schlake, Wyatt Flick, and Caleb Buckman triumphed in the 2021 Econ Games  -  an annual data competition co-founded by Dr. Abdullah Al-Bahrani (Northern Kentucky University) and Dr. Darshak Patel (University of Kentucky). 

Each year, Econ Games partners with a client that provides competing teams with a large dataset, asking them to comb through the data through interesting research questions and providing value-added recommendations via a short presentation. This year’s data collaborator was the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. 

A total of 266 students from 18 universities from across the world participated in a month-long skill development challenge; followed by a weekend working with data released to students on the eve of the main event. The  Gatton College team placed first in the competition - winning $2,000 in prize money for the Gatton College economics department and each receiving five-year Stata (data science software) licenses.

Said Wyatt Flick `22, “After meeting in person for the first time, we quickly realized we were capable of winning. Every one of us brought unique skill sets and stories which allowed us to amplify each other’s strengths and cover each other’s weaknesses.”

According to Dr. Patel, the games were introduced to give students first-hand experience in what many economics graduates do in their daily life – analyze large volumes of data, assess trends under various economic conditions, quantify and visualize results and tell a data story. 

“I am very proud of all student competitors from all over the world and especially excited for UKY Econ placing first in the last two Econ Games competition,” he said. “This success says a lot about the Gatton Economics program. My colleagues do a fantastic job in preparing and challenging students for the real world. Students thinking about an economics major should consider the University of Kentucky’s Gatton College.”

The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland provided a current data set of more than 200 time series drawn from publicly-available sources on macro-economic indicators and labor and financial markets. Each university submitted its best project, and the Federal Reserve chose the top three to present their work live on March 12. 

The final three teams, including Mount Royal University and University College London, had 48 hours to process their feedback and refine their original policy memos in time for the live presentation, which also included a Q&A with Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland judges Mark Schweitzer (senior Vice President), Dionissi Aliprantis (senior research economist) and Policy Economist Joel A. Elvery.

“The Econ Games was a super interesting experience for me,” said Ben Davison `23. “We started with a huge dataset and open-ended question and ended with a very narrow presentation topic. The teamwork aspect was super beneficial as well; I have a more mathematical and technical background, so my instinct with a large dataset was to do as much analysis as possible. But we kept our data analysis simple and specific, which ended up being our main advantage.”

This year’s event would not have been successful without its sponsors: The Institute for the Study of Free Enterprise (ISFE), Northern Kentucky University Center of Economic Education (NKUCEE), and Stata. If you or your company would like to get involved in the Econ Games, please contact Dr. Darshak Patel.