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April 2, 2024

Spartans at the Fed

Students and professor stand with fed challenge chairperson.
MSU College Fed Challenge Team with Fed Chair Jerome Powell. From left to right Jack Starling, Sophie Handley, Christina Staniak, Jerome Powell, Lorenzo Durán, and Antonio Doblas-Madrid.

On February 9, a team of Spartans visited the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve in Washington, D.C. Having represented Michigan State University in the 2023 College Fed Challenge, they were attending the inaugural Fed Challenge Open House. 

The College Fed Challenge is an academic competition where teams from colleges and universities around the country research economic conditions and present their analysis and monetary policy recommendations at the Federal Reserve.

Spartan students have in 2023 and before, represented MSU in this competition, and done so quite successfully,” said Antonio Doblas-Madrid, Ph.D., associate professor of economics. “Early teams ran with minimal faculty involvement, much like student clubs. In 2014, the course EC332 was launched to support the team and recognize the educational value of the competition.” 

Doblas-Madrid has been the professor of EC332 and faculty advisor for the College Fed Challenge team since 2020.

“I sincerely appreciated my experience participating in the Fed Challenge,” said economics senior Sophie Handley. Collaborating with the team and entire class to create a rigorous and polished proposal was an invaluable learning experience. Exploring economic data to create our proposal offered deep insights into macroeconomic trends and the mechanics of monetary policy, which I will continue to take with me into my career and interests. I strongly recommend it to students interested in macroeconomics, monetary policy, and opportunities at the Federal Reserve," Handley said. 

Over the years, students’ dedication has paid off, taking MSU to district finals on multiple occasions, including 2023, and even winning the district championship and advancing to the national finals in 2020.

With only three finalists and many tough competitors in our district—the Chicago Fed District—this is no small feat!Doblas-Madrid said.

Since the pandemic, the Fed Challenge has been conducted remotely which has made it easier for schools around the country to participate. However, this year, the 2023 program included, for the first time, an in-person event in Washington, D.C. in February of 2024 where Fed Challenge participants were invited to network with staff, competitors, and judges, and receive orientation for next year’s event.

Four students, Lorenzo Durán, Sophie Handley, Christina Staniak, and Jack Starling, with faculty advisor Tony Doblas-Madrid, attended the inaugural Fed Challenge Open House on February 9 at the William McChesney Martin Building in Washington, D.C. 

The day at the Fed was informative, stimulating, and lots of fun,” Doblas-Madrid said. It was supremely interesting to meet judges, alumni, organizers, and teams representing universities from around the country. An especially bright highlight was meeting Fed Chair Jerome Powell, who gave an inspiring speech, took pictures with the teams, and greeted each student individually."

“After months of preparation for the proposal and then the Q&A, the Fed open house was a rewarding opportunity to meet students from around the country with diverse perspectives and a common enthusiasm for economics,” Handley said. “I enjoyed meeting the other participants, receiving competition advice, and exploring career paths at the Fed during the open house.”

Although the visit was quick, the location of the Board of Governors in Washington, D.C. allowed for some sightseeing, including the White House and the National Mall.

“After visiting the Fed, doing a little sight-seeing, and being star-struck by the chairman of the federal reserve, I came back more passionate about monetary policy and with the utmost admiration for all those involved in its study and application, said economics senior Lorenzo Duran Charris.

Fed challenge students and professor stand in front of the White House.
MSU College Fed Challenge team members were able to do some sightseeing during their visit to Washington, D.C., including the White House. From left to right Lorenzo Durán, Christina Staniak, Sophie Handley, Antonio Doblas-Madrid, and Jack Starling.

“Our journey in this competition is a perfect example of everything I love about being a Spartan,” Durán Charris said. Dr. Doblas-Madrid, alongside other faculty members and alumni who donated their time to help us prepare for this competition, are a testament to the Spartan spirit and the synergy that it carries. I am forever thankful for everything the team taught me and the wonderful contributions everyone involved in EC332 made; Michigan State is filled with amazing talent.”

“The team enjoyed the experience tremendously, and learned valuable tips that will surely help raise the Spartans’ monetary policy game to even higher levels in coming years,” Doblas-Madrid said. “What a fantastic way to cap the 2023 season, recognize the outstanding work of our students and gather inspiration and ideas to come back even stronger in Fall 2024!

If you’re an economics student interested in the College Fed Challenge, visit

Interested in how you might support the College Fed Challenge for future students? Consider investing in our Fed Challenge students by supporting this fund that will send 5 students and a coach to Washington, D.C., for the spring meet-and-greet events:


Story by Antonio Doblas-Madrid and Katie Frey