UD hosts a one-day workshop on integrating financial software into the curriculum.

Trading ideas

Experts share tips, trends on financial markets simulation labs as teaching tools

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9:28 a.m., Aug. 27, 2013--Almost every seat in the Lerner College Trading Center at the University of Delaware was taken by 9 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 23, but the students were a bit more mature than the ones who fill those seats during the semester.

The students that day were business faculty from schools across the country, and they were at UD to attend a one-day conference, “Integrating Financial Software Into Your Curriculum,” hosted by the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics.

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“It’s a dean’s dream to have a first-class room like this, and attracting people here from other universities to share knowledge extends that dream,” said Bruce Weber.

Weber, dean of the Lerner College and an expert on information technology, added that events like the conference are critical to making academic trading centers successful. “These rooms don’t teach the students — they’re just tools,” he said. “We have to figure out how to use them best to make the experience come alive for our students.”

UD’s trading center, which opened in October 2008, is designed to replicate the trading floors in investment banks, brokerage houses and hedge funds on Wall Street.

Rich Jakotowicz, manager of the lab and instructor of finance, said that rooms like the trading center are an important part of experiential learning for business students. Some 35 new ones are added every year at academic institutions throughout the U.S., according to data from Rise Display.

“Meetings like this are important, so that we can exchange ideas and establish best practices for utilizing these labs,” he said.

Jennifer Milcarek, who has been program director of the Investment Center at Duquesne University for the past 11 years, was at the conference to learn about trends and issues in the field.

“Enrollments have grown so quickly that we’re getting ready to do our second rebuild since our center was launched 15 years ago,” she said. “It’s really valuable to have a sense of what others are doing as we make decisions about issues like choosing vendors. Finance labs are becoming standard in business schools, but those of us in this very specialized field need to keep learning and sharing experiences.”

The agenda included presentations on topics ranging from finance lab statistics, derivatives, and investment clubs to international finance, microstructure and trading, and fixed income markets.

For Weber, the day was a success before it even got started. “Any time UD can host an event that draws 40 participants from other academic institutions to our facility, it’s a sign we’re doing something right, and it’s a chance to spread the word about our programs.”

About the conference

The conference program featured presentations by Richard Holowczak (Baruch College), James Jablonski (Villanova University), Stafford Johnson (Xavier University), and John Broussard (Rutgers University), as well as Paul Laux, Jakotowicz and Weber from UD.

Sponsors included Rise Display, FactSet, Bloomberg, and TraderEx LLC.

About the Lerner College Trading Center

The Lerner College Trading Center is a 2,200-square-foot educational facility designed to replicate the trading floors in investment banks, brokerage houses, and hedge funds on Wall Street. The center incorporates the same computer hardware, software, networks, and market data feeds found in every financial institution throughout the world. The center contains 16 classroom work stations, four research room workstations, an instructor podium, and real-time feeds to two tickers and four LCD displays.

The primary objective of the center is to increase the quality of the academic experience within the Lerner College by allowing students to experience real-time, hands-on professional applications of the industry and empowering faculty with high-tech teaching tools. This discovery-based learning facility allows the Lerner College to stay abreast of the fast-paced world of financial markets.

Students in finance, economics, HRIM, accounting, MIS, and other classes use the center to put theory into practice. Workshops teach students the basics of working with sophisticated financial software. Professional training courses and executive education classes are also conducted in the center. When not being used for classes and workshops, the facility is available for students to complete research and assignments.

Article by Diane Kukich

Photos by Evan Krape

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