Economics and Computer Science Come Together to Win Wells Fargo Challenge

MEMPHIS, TN—March 12, 2019. The Department of Economics in the Fogelman College of Business and Economics at the University of Memphis won the Wells Fargo Challenge in late 2018. Wells Fargo is promoting environmental sustainability with a focus on accelerating the transition to a low-carbon economy.

The Campus Analytics Challenge: Live Green and Live Happy invited higher education degree students to write computer programs to find quality substitutes for high carbon emitting activities such as long showers or driving a car, without reducing the happiness and utility from these activities.

"In particular, we used an optimization technique from microeconomic theory and an unsupervised machine learning algorithm from computer science to make our recommendation system with the relationship and balance between a person's carbon footprint and their everyday quality of life being key," said Scott Koskoski, graduate assistant in the FCBE Department of Economics. "My Challenge partner, Stephen Lee, and I took an interdisciplinary approach, drawing on computer science but bringing to bear economic insight and knowledge of economic theory." Lee received his MA in economics in May 2018 and previously was a graduate assistant in the Computer Science Department, College of Arts & Science at the University of Memphis.

The five Challenge winners each will receive $2,200 and a 3-day/2-night trip to San Francisco, CA in March 2019 to attend a Wells Fargo Analytics Summit, and $500 for travel expenses. The other four winning teams were from Duke University, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Georgia Tech, and Indiana University.