Political science, economics student attends ICPSR Summer Program

Senior political science and economics major Kyle Foutch spent part of his summer immersed in quantitative analysis to further his studies at SIUE.

Photo courtesy of Kyle Foutch

Foutch participated in the Inter-university Consortium of Political Science Research (ICPSR) Summer Program at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. Foutch said the program, which he became interested in after political science department chair Denise DeGarmo suggested it, is “very highly revered.”

“It’s really designed to get people at the graduate level, but undergrad and professional too, to be able to really understand quantitative methods for social research and be able to run the numbers, interpret the numbers and it’s taught by people that are the best in their field,” Foutch said.

Foutch said he already sees a correlation between what he learned at ICPSR, which is at the graduate level, and his undergraduate SIUE classes.

“There’s a class I’m taking called ECON 301, and it was talking a little bit about research methods and how to interpret equations, and a lot of things that [economics professor John Meisel has] taught about are things I’ve done in-depth,” Foutch said.

The experience at ICPSR helped shape Foutch’s future as well. He said he plans to attend graduate school and being involved in the program was a “good, harsh taste of grad school.”

“[The program has] made me want to go, not just be prepared,” Foutch said. “To be in that environment, going getting drinks with your professors, being with people that are truly passionate about what they do, their coursework, I think grad school is going to be awesome.”

He also said it was humbling to be in class with students in their mid-20s earning doctorates.

“I try to be a modest guy and not get cocky, but you felt pretty cool,” Foutch said. “You felt like you were batting with the big boys and what a neat feeling that was. And it was beneficial.”

One of the “stand-out accomplishments” for Foutch was writing his own regression program – a programming system that tests for “bugs” and checks to see if any changes have caused new issues to arise.

“I’m proud of that, to be able to write my own program and calculate things where most people would just use a run of the mill program and run the risk of having an incorrect number and not really understanding how it works…,” Foutch said.

Lynette Hoelter, assistant research scientist and director of instructional resource at University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, taught two of Foutch’s courses this summer.

“He was a fantastic student,” Hoelter said. “He’s very dedicated. He stayed in my class even when he didn’t have to… but he said he felt like he was learning something and he was clearly engaged with the material all the time.”

She also said Foutch has “a ton of potential” that he may not always realize.

“He came to talk to me during office hours a couple times, and just the kinds of things that he was talking about that he got really excited about – things about social science research – I can’t really describe it, but there was sort of a passion there, and he’s got the intellectual ability to go with it.”

Foutch said he would encourage the administration “to be more cognizant of the program and provide more support.”

“Even though it’s not done in our building, I think it would make us look better to have students going there,” Foutch said, “and it’s a really high quality education that even though we have some wonderful professors here, I just don’t think we can quite do it the way they have done it.”

Having more skill in the realm of quantitative analysis in the research field and “modern-day vocational world,” according to Foutch, puts people “ahead of the game.”

“We’re all about making people ready for the future, where the ‘e’ stands for excellence,” Foutch said. “Definitely excellence is something this program can definitely provide for an SIU student who’s interested.”

For more information about ICPSR’s summer program, visit www.icpsr.umich.edu/icpsrweb/sumprog/.

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