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Jenkins using classroom learning on the job

June  04, 2014

Dr. Christopher B. Marme', professor of economics, with Ben Jenkins and his Tallgrass Capital Award for most outstanding economics major.

Ben Jenkins, who won Augustana's 2013 Tallgrass Capital Award for most outstanding economics major, now finds himself using terms from the classroom on the job.

He is working part of a "data warehouse team" at Epic, a maker of software for medical groups, hospitals and health-care organizations.

"The warehouse is a tool that allows customers to combine their Epic clinical data with third-party data in a single location," Jenkins explained. "It provides a centralized location for storing data used in research studies as well as ad hoc reporting.

"My job is coming up with designs for improving the warehouse, as well as ensuring everything functions smoothly."

Jenkins majored in mathematics, applied mathematics and economics at Augustana, plus minoring in computer science and Spanish.

"I absolutely think my economics background has been helpful," he said. "While I'm at work I use concepts like cost-benefit analysis and return on investment all the time. We run into bugs and requests for enhancements nearly every day. As a team we have to decide how to triage the requests appropriately considering aspects like how much development time and testing time an enhancement will take compared to how badly/how many customers want it. We deal with scarcity of manpower and having to allocate our resources appropriately constantly. I've definitely used the terms "marginal benefit" and "marginal cost" at work."

Outside of work he likes being able to read the Wall Street Journal and understand what he's reading. "I find paying attention to economic policy enjoyable," he said.