What initially drew me to the Masters of Science in Economic Systems Design (MSESD) at the Economic Science Institute (ESI) at Chapman University was my interest in the economic sub-disciplines of game theory, experimental economics, and behavioral economics. My undergraduate advisor, Garrett Milam from the University of Puget Sound, introduced me to these sub-disciplines and when I expressed my interest in attending graduate school his advice was that I find where the best people are working and apply there. In the case of ESI, I discovered that the Nobel Prize winner in experimental economics, Vernon Smith, had setup a unique specialized master’s program on my particular topics of interest. I applied to the program and was accepted with a full academic fellowship.
The advice I would give to anyone interested in the MSESD program is “know thyself.” If you are a self-motivated individual with a passion for applied research than the MSESD program at ESI is an ideal situation for you.
In my time at ESI I was provided with the unique opportunity to develop and pursue my own research projects. One such project, which ultimately became by master’s thesis, was the redesign of the Chapman University Bicycle Auction. The prior version of the design suffered from bike theft, bidder intimidation, and rules that allowed participants to “game” the auction. In collaboration with four university departments, including ESI, I was able to completely redesign and implement a new auction. The auction was selected because the mechanism was allocatively efficient, increased participation, made bidding simple by giving participants the incentive to tell the truth about their value, and changed the bidding language to better fit participant demand. The auction was the first time a Vickrey-Clarke-Groves mechanism was modified by exclusive-OR bids and used in a real-world setting. It was rewarding to apply the skills learned in the MSESD program to implement a real-world solution. My faculty advisor, David Porter, and I are currently working on the article for publication.
In another research project to which I contributed the focus of the investigation was Fantasy Football auction draft optimizations. I understand that some may scorn the investigation into such a topic as frivolous but this was not a trivial problem and sometimes research can be fun. In our research we have endeavored to design and implement a model that allowed for the optimization a Fantasy Football auction draft and hence give us an advantage in our teams winning in their respective leagues. In 2013, to determine if our model did improve our chances we entered into 70 leagues with 20 being of the pay variety costing $100 to $250 to join. This has been a multi-year project starting in 2012 and continuing in 2014. For those who decide to enter into the MSESD program maybe you will get the chance to work on this fun research.