Optimal Holds 5th Annual “Why be an Economist Day?”

Date: June 28, 2011
Location: College Park, MD

On June 15, Optimal Solutions Group, LLC (Optimal) held its fifth annual “Why Be an Economist Day?” for students ranging from college sophomores to graduate students from across the country. It was funded by the National Science Foundation, and the aspiring economists were part of the Summer Institute program sponsored by Howard University. They had the opportunity to benefit from presentations by Optimal’s professional staff.

Optimal President and CEO and established economist Dr. Mark Turner opened with an overview of Optimal’s history, its corporate motivation, and its philosophy that advocates innovation in a competitive world market. Students then listened to presentations from Research Associate Matea Pender, Research Analyst Soham Banerji, and Research Analyst Lindsey Cramer about how Optimal is applying these concepts from an economic standpoint.

Mr. Banerji first discussed Optimal’s project with the Small Business Administration (SBA) involving regional innovation clusters and impact-evaluation surveys, which helps small businesses and entrepreneurs across the nation understand ways to create jobs that will lead to economic growth. Ms. Penderfollowed by discussing the impact of the shortage of diversity in STEM careers in terms of innovation, and she related this issue to Optimal’s work on the National Institutes of Health project. This project collected evidence about recruitment and retention of minority students in science—a group that is severely underrepresented in many science fields. Ms. Cramer closed with a presentation on her Supporting Healthy Marriage research study and Maryland Responsible Fatherhood evaluations. She explained how these initiatives attempt to improve couples’ relationships and child rearing skills, to improve their economic situation and enhance their children’s well-being and security.

As minorities continue to become the majority within many communities across the United States, they also continue to be underrepresented in the sciences. “Economist Day” aimed to inspire the students to diversify those working in the sciences and to make an impact with this fundamental message. The presentations were also part of Optimal’s ongoing efforts to help develop a growing emphasis on innovation in a global market, and on interdisciplinary research, while conveying the importance of economics in business, research and cultural studies.