A team of University of Delaware students represented the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics at the highly competitive 2023 Econ Games from March 23-24 in Lexington, Ky. This intense, 24-hour event was designed specifically to challenge undergraduate economics students to apply their knowledge to real-world business problems and provide them with valuable experience in data visualization, analysis and storytelling.
The UD team, chosen based on their academic performance and demonstrated passion for economics, included: seniors Beckett Schlag, an economics major, and Connor Lehmann, an honors economics major with a minor in entrepreneurship; rising seniors Zachary Seymour, an economics major with minors in business analytics and political science, and Rebecca Meeks, an honors economics major with a minor in statistical data analytics; rising junior Miriam Washington, an economics major with minors in international business studies and Arabic; and rising sophomores AJ Nehru, an honors economics major, and Peter Buckle, a finance and accounting double major.
The contingent showcased their skills while collaborating with industry partners. Their impressive performance in the competition highlighted the importance of teamwork and data skills needed for careers in economic analysis.
Kathryn Bender, assistant professor of economics at Lerner College, was the faculty advisor for the event. She discovered the competition through colleagues and saw great potential for UD Lerner students.
“I have been passionate about giving our students an opportunity to participate in the event because of how well the Econ Games complements the education our students gain in the classroom,” she said.
Throughout the competition, students honed their software skills using industry-standard programs like Stata, R, Python, and Tableau. The competition consisted of multiple practice exercises with a final presentation. The experience allowed them to sharpen their data visualization techniques while challenging them to communicate their findings effectively.
Seymour expressed his immediate interest in participating, saying “I became interested in the Econ Games when multiple professors and my advisor had reached out to me,” he said. “They all thought I would be a good fit. After learning about the experience in data analysis that I could gain from it I was on board immediately.”
After signing a non-disclosure agreement, students were given access to all transactions from 2022 for two brands. The teams analyzed the brands’ customers, product lines, and SKUs from the data provided and recommended a pricing strategy for them.
The competition was not just a test of analytical skills but an exercise in teamwork, software development and presentation. The team tackled broad questions that often had no right answer, mirroring the real-world challenges economists and other data scientists face in the workforce.
Schlag shared the significance of time management and communication skills. “It was a great tool to develop those skills,” he said. “The competition is strictly 24 hours so it required careful planning of when to get my work done.
“You need to be able to communicate your work and insights with people who may not have the same technical knowledge. Learning to overcome those hurdles was extremely beneficial.”
Applying the concepts they learned in their economics courses to real-life problems and developing solutions was a very fulfilling aspect of the competition for Washington.
“It was challenging, exhilarating and overall great! The most enjoyable part was working with the other students,” she said. “The moments we were stressing out together, figuring things out, or laughing at our mistakes, were all great moments,” she said.
Students interested in participating in the 2024 Econ Games can reach out to Professor Bender at email@example.com.