Western High grad wins top Economics honor at UNC-Chapel Hill

Western High School 2018 alumnus Brady Smith of Burlington has been awarded the 2022 Undergraduate Prize in Economics as he prepares to complete his senior year at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

UNC awards the Undergraduate Prize in Economics to one student each year who is judged to be the most outstanding based on academic performance, the university’s economics department said Friday in announcing Smith as this year’s recipient.

Smith is a double major in Economics and Math, with a minor in Statistics and Analytics.  He recently completed an honors thesis on competition between internet service providers, under the direction of Dr. Jonathan Williams, an associate professor in the economics department at UNC.  Smith’s thesis focused on how one company alters pricing when its competitor offers different types of internet technology, finding broad price decreases in areas that are dense with high-fiber internet and that the competitive reaction is an external benefit of fiber internet.

Smith has worked as a peer tutor in the EconAid center within the university’s economics department since his sophomore year at Carolina.  During his junior year, he was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, the most prestigious academic honor society in the U.S.

Smith has also worked as a research assistant for Williams, writing software programs known as “web scrapers” to collect publicly available data from internet service providers and websites, the department noted in announcing he had been selected for the prize.  Smith has made practical use of these skills by working as a software developer with TDS Telecom, a telecommunications company based in Madison, Wisconsin.

Smith hopes to pursue a career in economics research, specifically using empirical results to improve public policy that will achieve more equitable and efficient outcomes.

In the meantime, Smith plans to enroll this fall in the Economics PhD program at the University of Pennsylvania.

Smith was previously featured in a May 2018 edition of The Alamance News when he ranked among the Top 12 seniors in Western High School’s Class of 2018 (a dozen rather than the traditional top 10 due to a tie in grades among top students that year).

He is the son of David and Michelle Smith of Burlington.