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Have You Met Rutgers-Newark?

Three Cheers for the Brain Team

Rutgers-Newark doesn’t have a football team, but since 2005 it has fielded a team that has made four trips to a “brain bowl.” Each year a five-student team, fielded by the Economics Department and coached by department chair John Graham , competes in the College Fed Challenge sponsored by the Federal Reserve Board. In late 2011 the team  came in second in the national finals in Washington, D.C., bested only by the team from Harvard. 2011 marked the fourth time in six years that the R-N team has reached the national finals, and the third time it has placed in the top three national teams. The national finals were the capstone to five district competitions throughout the country.

The Rutgers students on the 2011 team are:

senior Victor Castaneda, an economics and mathematics major
junior Michael Jen, an economics and history major
junior Bryan Myers, an economics major senior
Gaurav Pendse, a finance and computer science major, and
senior Sher Singh, an economics and mathematics major

Castaneda is a veteran from three previous Fed Challenges, while Singh has been on the team for two years. The New York district competition began on Oct. 28 with 36 teams from the New York- New Jersey area; only six teams advanced to the semi-finals, and only four made the finals. To reach the New York finals, the Rutgers-Newark team had to win both their preliminary and semi-final round. To reach the national finals, the R-N students won the regional finals at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in November.

In each round of the competition, team members give a 15-minute presentation, including Power Point slides of economic and financial data, and then make a monetary policy
recommendation concerning the federal funds rate and credit-easing policies. Finally the panel of judges grills each team about its presentation and policy recommendation, the team’s overall knowledge of macroeconomics and Federal Reserve operations, and the major monetary issues facing the Fed. Each team is then scored in several categories, including teamwork, knowledge, and presentation skills.