Undergraduate Research:  Our Cadets at Work

The VMI Undergraduate Research Initiative (URI) was established by directive of the Dean of Faculty to more fully integrate student scholarly inquiry into the VMI experience. The program is premised on extensively documented and reported observations that the most meaningful academic experiences of college students come through one-on-one interactions with faculty advisors outside the traditional classroom environment. The Department of Economics and Business has several ongoing and planned projects that support VMI’s Undergraduate Research Initiative (URI). 

Currently, three cadets are participating in research projects during the spring 2007 semester. 

  • Cadet Rich Meredith is using game theory to develop the conditions under which a policy of threatening war with Iran with a certain probability (rather than risk all out war) might reveal the true balance of power in Iran and at the same time get Iranians to withdraw from the nuclear path. His faculty adviser is Lt. Col. Atin Basu.
  • Under the advisement of Lt. Col. Robert Moreschi, Cadet Sean Hingley is testing the degree of market efficiency in nine major currencies and whether returns are “normal” for the risk or if returns are abnormal, suggesting the market misvalues currencies.
  • Cadet Patrick McGill is investigating the level of preparedness of Virginia businesses for a potential bird flu pandemic. In addition to surveying Virginia businesses to determine their level of preparedness, he is developing a decision support model to aid a business in determining whether potential revenue losses that would occur justify the cost of preparations necessary to mitigate those losses. Cadet McGill is working under the supervision of Col. Stewart Husted and Maj. Barry Cobb.

Four ECBU majors have been awarded Summer Undergraduate Research Institute (SURI) grants. These cadets receive a tuition waiver and stipend to work with faculty members on research projects during the summer. 

  • Cadet Daniel Allen will be working with Maj. Jim Bang to conduct a quantitative analysis of the skill content of immigration to the United States between 1990 and 2000 to determine if the quota policies contributed to a skill bias in the types of immigrants who came to the United States.
  • Cadet Jon Fox will work with Maj. Tinni Sen and plans to propose a new measure of a country’s economic health that addresses some of the potential weaknesses of Gross Domestic Product. Cadet Garrett Smith will examine a possible linkage between executive compensation and firm performance in collaboration with Lt. Col. Robert Moreschi.
  • Cadet Rhys Williams will investigate the extent to which economic conditions, such as inflation, unemployment, and average earnings, influence the pursuit of advanced training in business (for instance, MA degrees).  He is working with Maj. Sam Allen.
  • In addition, Maj. Elizabeth Baker is working with Cadet Isaac Putnam, an electrical and computer engineering major. The research project will  involve investigating alternative marketing opportunities for the ELF Thumper, an extremely low frequency seismic communicator. This device, which enables miners to communicate from underground through rock to the surface, was developed by Cadet Putnam and Cadet Flathers, another ECE major, with Lt. Col. Jim Squire of the Department of Electrical Engineering.

On a related point, ODE and SBD, the honor societies in economics and business respectively, have sponsored an online journal designed to showcase cadet writing. The website has been designed by Cadet Rich Meredith (President – ODE and member SBD) and is a direct result of his initiative. ODE and SBD will publish The Economics and Business Online Journal once a year.