Trinity’s College Fed Challenge Team Advances to the Regional Finals

Students Competed at Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Earned Honorable Mention

​Hartford, Connecticut, December 29, 2016 – Seven Trinity College students competed recently against 24 other colleges and universities from New England in the 2016 College Fed Challenge. Coached by Assistant Professor of Economics Joshua Stillwagon, Trinity’s team advanced to the regional finals for the first time. This event, which was held at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston on November 14, marked the fourth year in which Trinity has participated in the competition.

​(Left-right) Assistant Professor of Economics Joshua Stillwagon, Jagger Riefler '17, Ryan Cole '17, Jennifer Nguyen '18, Soe Han Tha '18, Jeremy Dam '18, Dana Cerone '18, and Brendan McDermott '17.
The economics students on the team were Dana Cerone ’18, Ryan Cole ’17, Jeremy Dam ’18, Brendan McDermott ’17, Jennifer Nguyen ’18, Jagger Riefler ’17, and Soe Han Tha ’18. The group presented an analysis of current economic conditions and a recommendation for monetary policy to the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Following the presentation, the team fielded questions from the Fed economists. The team won its first-round bracket and was one of five teams to advance to regional finals, along with Bentley University, Bryant University, Dartmouth College, and Middlebury College.

Participants said they were able to use what they have learned in macroeconomics courses in applications outside of the classroom. Riefler said, “I thought the Federal Reserve Challenge was the best experience I have had at Trinity. What was so unique about it was how we were able to put into practice everything we have learned in economics in a real-world scenario. Additionally, advancing to finals and being the first Trinity team to do so was an awesome feeling.”

McDermott matched Riefler’s enthusiasm for the experience. “Ever since 2008, monetary policy has become more and more unconventional, making it even more interesting to take place in this event,” McDermott said. “The knowledge, friendship, and excitement we gained from participating in the competition and making it to the final round is priceless.”

The judges said that this was the most impressive group of finalist teams they had seen to date. Dartmouth placed first on the regional level and will advance to the national competition in Washington, D.C. Trinity received an honorable mention, with the judges noting, “Their nuanced discussion of inflation targeting and its connection to expectations was well executed.”

Participation in the event is now offered as a for-credit independent study at Trinity, rather than as an extracurricular club, which Stillwagon said is an important incentive to encourage students to devote additional time. “I think the students’ intellect and effort primarily accounts for this year’s improved performance,” Stillwagon added. “This year I also recruited a larger number of students to have more students contributing to the research.” Many additional Trinity faculty members helped in the team’s preparation, as did Ted Hartsoe ’83, a Trinity alumnus and economics teacher at Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, Connecticut.

Stillwagon and the other participants have aspirations for progressing even further in future competitions. For more information about the College Fed Challenge and how to get involved, e-mail

Written by Catie Currie ’17