(Aug. 22, 2014) – Walls have come down and student experience has gone up in the University of the Incarnate Word’s H-E-B School of Business & Administration (HEBSBA), as construction of the new state-of-the-art finance lab wrapped up in time for the start of the Fall 2014 semester. Designed to transport Wall Street to the classroom, students were introduced to their new virtual learning environment on Monday.
The finance lab brings world markets to life with an 87 inch video wall, 26 foot stock ticker, and a student-managed portfolio toping $100,000. The lab will be home to finance and management information systems courses as well as to graduate students and capstone seniors. Students will have access to over 32 workstations harnessed with industry standard software, giving them a head start in their career as they learn and apply course concepts simultaneously. Associate Professor of Finance Dr. Alicia Rodriguez de Rubio explains, “The lab will allow our students to do business analysis using databases that are used in the industry. At the same time, they will work in groups to create investment portfolios.”
As college graduation rates are on the rise, it is imperative that students find ways to stand out from their peers. The finance lab gives HEBSBA students an extra rung to assist them in climbing the career ladder. “For those interested, there are opportunities to get software user certification, said Rodriguez de Rubio. “This will make them more competitive when applying for jobs and internships.”
The addition of the finance lab does put the HEBSBA in small company. Highlighted in a report by Rise Display, a producer of digital signage found in finance labs across the country, only 16 percent of the 1,722 business schools in North America are equipped with a finance lab; an even smaller percentage maintain a student-managed portfolio. Putting students face-to-face with contemporary technology was the vision of the HEBSBA faculty. “In the competitive market of global business, students need every opportunity to stand out,” said Dr. Forrest Aven, dean of the HEBSBA. “The finance lab gives our students a quality tool to do just that.”
For finance students, several online platforms will be available to enhance the curriculum. Virtual trading simulation platform, StockTrak, allows students to participate in the trade of stocks, bonds, futures, and equities from over 20 global exchanges. According to StockTrak, over 80 percent of the top business schools in the U.S. utilize the simulator. Although, before a trade can be made, these future brokers must present compelling research in favor of their decision. To assist in making those sound fiscal recommendations, students will have access to Morningstar Direct, an investment analysis platform aimed at consolidating institutional data for in-depth research. Opportunities still abound; for students following the financial planning career path, these platforms will assist them in obtaining the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) certification.
The lab was not only built with the student in mind, but also the instructor. The nucleus of the lab, the instructor’s podium, is equipped with an interactive touchscreen monitor that allows the user to create charts and graphs, manage multiple presentations, and transcribe information directly onto the screen; all accomplished without a keyboard or mouse. Beyond the technological enticements, the finance lab serves the most practical of purposes for instructors: bridging the gap between the classroom and the real world. “Nothing is more important than the students being able to apply what they’ve learned,” said Assistant Professor of Finance Dr. Timothy Griesdorn. “When people use what they’ve learned it sticks with them. This lab gives me the opportunity to talk about a concept and then have students practice it.”
As the University of the Incarnate Word continues to grow, it is paramount that students have access to advanced technology that fuels their creativity and increases their employability. “We are completely invested in preparing our students for their chosen careers,” said Dean Aven. “Innovations like the finance lab and portfolio simulator are critical to assisting our students in their success.”