By Jake Weber
Teamwork and preparation paid off for Albion's "Fed Challenge" team, as the group took an honorable mention in the national College Challenge hosted by the Federal Reserve on November 29.
"How many other times will you see Albion and Harvard competing?" asked team member Heather Waldron, '14. "We all worked really hard to get here, and it was an once-in-a-lifetime experience."
Harvard finished first in the competition; Rutgers finished second, while Lafayette and North Carolina-Chapel Hill received honorable mentions with Albion. The five schools reached the national finals after winning their respective regional Fed Challenges, with Albion representing the Federal Reserve's Chicago district.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke opened the competition, held in the Federal Open Market Committee conference room, "where the course of monetary policy is determined," said economics and management professor Kotaro Yoshida, the team's coach.
A three-judge panel, including Federal Reserve Governor Elizabeth Duke, watched Albion's performance and then grilled the team with spontaneous questions. A question on the European economic crisis and its impact on the domestic economy "was exactly what we had prepared for a number of times," said Yoshida. The other three questions, covering technical knowledge and informed opinion, "were also things we had studied before, so the Q&A went fairly well," Yoshida added.
Team captain Thomas Worden, '13, noted the team's commitment was a key factor. "I underestimated the amount of time you have to devote to the competition," he said, explaining that "in the last few weeks before the regional competition, we were spending 20 to 35 hours a week preparing. It was an enormous amount of work, but it paid off."
"It was a wonderful experience in my last semester at Albion College," said team member Kurt Tech, '11. "In all my classes, I have never had an experience that brought all of the theories and models into practice, and to see how the real world varies so much from the classroom. I hope to see teams competing from our school in the years to come."
"Personally, I learned a great deal of the current economic and financial conditions and current monetary policymaking," Yoshida commented. "At the same time, I was able to observe how different personalities with different skills can come together and complement each other as a team. One of the judges spoke highly of our teamwork. This was a very rewarding experience for me."