Mason Putt MQE Alumni 2021
Mason Putt is a two-time graduate of the University of Pittsburgh. In 2021 he earned his Master of Science in Quantitative Economics degree and in 2020, he earned his Bachelor of Science in Economics-Statistics. He currently works as a Financial Analyst at DAI Management Consultants, a Carnegie-based consulting firm specializing in renewable energy valuation. Connect with Mason on LinkedIn and read more about him here:
Q: How has the MQE Program provided you with the skills needed to succeed in your current position as a (Financial Analyst at DAI)?
My work relies heavily on modeling expected cash flows to derive valuations for utility-scale wind and solar projects. More broadly, this involves making estimations in the face of uncertainty - especially in a time where many companies are trying to quantify the impact of heightened inflation, pandemic-related supply chain delays, the ongoing war in Ukraine, and many more. The coursework of the MQE program taught me how to analyze uncertain events, and just as importantly, communicate results in a way that is meaningful to decision-makers. This is a skill that I hadn't thoroughly developed as an undergraduate, but that I use daily in my career when trying to relay conclusions to developers, sponsors, and financiers.
Q: What did you love learning about the most during your time in the MQE program?
Despite already understanding the basics of statistical programming, I came into the MQE program not knowing the extent to which it can be used in real-world applications to solve problems. In an age of abundant data, it is becoming more and more important to have analysts be able to draw accurate, unbiased conclusions. To this end, I greatly enjoyed learning about machine learning methodologies and the underlying coding techniques by which they can be implemented. While this was one of the more challenging aspects of the program for me, these more sophisticated models allow analysts to draw conclusions that couldn't have otherwise been achieved, which has very important implications in modern research.
Q: How did you implement skills from the MQE Program into your Capstone Project?
Our Capstone project explored the long-term relationship between regional housing affordability and evictions, and analyzed how variables such as unemployment and educational attainment interact with this relationship. Large-scale questions such as this require extensive data gathering and cleaning, diligent analysis, and efficient data visualization to communicate results. Specifically, we used R and Python to gather, tidy, and join mass amounts of publicly-sourced data from the CHAS, BLS, and ERS, which we then analyzed via R on the Jupyter Hub platform, and visualized via an interactive dashboard on Google Data Studio. Throughout the first semester of the MQE program, we learned the technical and theoretical skills needed to perform each of these steps, and over the course of the development of our project, we received constructive feedback and support from classmates and faculty. Overall, the quality of the final product we were able to deliver would not have been possible without the skills taught in the MQE program and support from our peers.
Q: How did the MQE program help prepare you for real-world job/career experience?
Not only did the MQE faculty help to facilitate the introduction between myself and my current employer, I feel that I was put in a position where I was able to contribute right away. Upon graduating, I was in the position of having very little professional experience besides a few internships, and one of the reasons I chose the MQE program was to develop those skills I would need for the workforce. Even the seemingly simple tasks such as writing professional emails or speaking in meetings were skills that I was inexperienced in, but that I gained practice in over the course of the program. For this reason, as well as the technical skills mentioned previously, I found that it was a phenomenal segway into the professional world.