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Trent Undergraduate Inspired to Write Economics Textbook to Help Future Students


Fourth-year Student Juan Camilo Serpa Says Book Became an Obsession

Wednesday, August 27, 2008, Peterborough

For fourth-year student Juan Camilo Serpa, economics is more than a major, it is a passion.

While taking Dr. Bruce Cater’s third-year course in econometrics, Juan was so taken with the material that he became inspired to write his own textbook on the subject.

“Professor Cater’s econometrics lectures were quite unique, and were not encapsulated in a standard manuscript,” said Juan. “While everyone I knew loved his courses, I felt that Prof. Cater’s notes covered all of the necessary material in a way that made standard textbooks tangential to the class’s needs.”

Juan always wanted to write a textbook, so he decided to ask Prof. Cater if he would be interested in having a personalized mini-manual for his course. “The idea was to create a 30-page document that summarized his notes. I expected two weeks of work to produce something that would give a good impression when I applied to grad schools,” Juan said.

“I don’t know how, but I got obsessed with this book,” explained Juan, who began working on the book in the fall of 2007. “I had to read many journals and other textbooks to flesh out Prof. Cater’s notes. By trying to absorb the material for a concrete purpose, I ended up imprinting it in my memory, thereby making things much easier.” By mid-June, Juan realized that his mini-manual had become a large text, and so decided to go all the way and turned it into a 150-page text book, with more than 55 graphs, 25 examples and 20 tables.

Entitled Econometrics: Within the Model, the textbook is published online and geared specifically for students in Economics 320 or 420. Econometrics is the application of statistical methods to the study of economic and financial data. “This manuscript was exclusively done for Trent University students with no commercial purpose,” said Juan. “On a personal note, it is a precious work for me. It cost me a summer job, millions of summer plans and other opportunities.”

“This will be a great resource for my students, particularly in its extensive use of examples,” said Prof. Cater, who emphasized that the book was entirely Juan’s idea. “Juan is a brilliant student, and a prime example of how talented and motivated many of our undergraduates are at Trent.”

Juan was quick to point out Prof. Cater’s strong support throughout the writing process. “Without his help I wouldn't have been able to finish the book,” he said. “Sometimes, he even came to campus especially just to check my work. He is also probably one of the most highly regarded professors by his students, given that he is extremely helpful and always concerned about our academic development.”

Originally from Colombia, Juan is attending Trent as an international student who plans to pursue his doctorate in mathematical economics.


For further information, please contact Juan Camilo Serpa (705) 748-5123.