Discover Applied Econometrics

By Seth Robinson

Zelin Chen is a final year student, and tutor in the Master of Applied Econometrics, a course he discovered after moving to Melbourne and beginning his studies in another program. It’s a course that has offered Zelin a treasure trove of opportunities.

I moved from Canberra three years ago to do a post-graduate degree here at the University of Melbourne. It’s not uncommon, lots of Canberrans make the move, but it’s a big city and when I stumble across someone who’s followed the same path, I get a little giddy. I always find myself asking them why they came to Melbourne – usually, it has to do with education, job opportunities, or food. This is what happened when I met with Zelin Chen. He moved from China to Canberra, where he went to the ANU, before coming to Melbourne for his post-graduate studies. This shared experience is just a bonus, what makes Zelin’s story interesting, is what he discovered when he got here.

- Zelin Chen.

“My partner and I moved to Melbourne together, and I actually started out studying information systems. I was a year into that when I discovered I wanted to change into the Master of Applied Econometrics. I’m really interested in studying data analytics, so this felt like the right move for me.”

But what was it about the Master of Applied Econometrics that won Zelin over?

“Applied Econometrics is data-driven. If an economist looks at a problem, they’ll think about a model for the problem from a theoretical perspective. If an Applied Econometrician looks at a problem, they search for the data and let it speak for itself. There’s a lot of interplay between the two, as they complement each other. But when you split them up, it’s about working with the theoretical model, or the empirical model,” he says. “This particular course is also very tailored to the students who want to learn empirical models. It gives you the flexibility to work within your experience, I had done some previous economics study, so I was able to branch out and explore some of my other interests, rather than having to study those basic principles again.”

In addition to his studies, Zelin has taken on work as a tutor in the Applied Econometrics program, an experience that has given him a more comprehensive understanding of the subject.

“I actually took the subject I tutor last year, which helps. I think now I understand what the students struggle with, because they were the same issues I had to overcome. It means I can prepare my tutorials in a better way, and I can make myself more approachable. That’s one of the great things, it’s a really tight community. When I became a tutor, there was another experienced tutor who took the time out to help me with communication and teaching methods. This was despite her also working as an investment banker.”

Ultimately, it’s the MBS community that sets the experience apart, along with the resources that come from attending the University of Melbourne.

“That’s the MBS experience, it’s all about learning, making friends and connecting with other people. The university itself is also really supportive, it invests in people. I’m currently working on my master’s thesis, which involves using the genetic algorithm to find optimal trading rules, which is very computationally expensive, but my advisor actually helped me get access to a supercomputer, which is really cutting my research time, and boosting my output.”