Walk into the north lobby of the MTSU Business and Aerospace Building these days and your eye is immediately drawn to the circular digital stock ticker on the ceiling scrolling the latest green and red ups and downs from various financial indices and equities.
A glance to the side reveals a wired classroom arranged in several pods. Small conference tables anchored by large flat screen monitors display some of the same data as the ticker. It's where MTSU business majors from freshmen to master's students can work in teams and instructors can move from table to table to share information and instruction digitally.
The Jennings A. Jones College of Business recently opened this relocated and upgraded Financial Analysis Center on the first floor of the building's north side to provide business and finance students with the latest technology as they pursue their degrees and careers as future traders and business leaders.
"This is one of the most technologically advanced trading rooms in the state," said Department of Economic and Finance associate professor Charles Beauchamp as he scanned the trading room following a recent demonstration and reception for community and campus stakeholders. Beauchamp has spearheaded the push to upgrade the room with assistance from Sean Salter, associate professor and interim chair of the department.
With upgrades to the room, students and instructors now have fingertip access to loads of financial data at 12 Bloomberg terminals and 10 S&P Capital IQ terminals, allowing upper level finance students to make trades within the $500,000 stock portfolio they manage as part of their hands-on education.
Every upper level finance course will be held in the room, Beauchamp said, while MBA students will use the room for some courses and students in the new Master of Science in Finance program will hold all of its classes here.
The original version of the trading room was created eight years ago and was located on the third floor. After launching the room, the department saw students' grades and job placements after graduation improve, Beauchamp said.
"We're anticipating that we'll see even more improvement with the new technology," he added, noting that the classroom is also equipped with a camera that can allow instructors to videotape courses for online posting.
At the front of the revamped classroom stand two interactive teaching display monitors where instructors can teach via a digital chalkboard, can track stocks or any traded asset or pull up information from Bloomberg and Capital IQ for discussion. Traditional whiteboards are also available for instructors to use.
Salter, who is beginning his ninth year at MTSU, said the room is not designed for lectures, but for hands-on lab work where students "can work with financial data and they can get the skills they will be using when they get out into the work world."
"We have more technology and more data and more access than any other (trading) room at any other school," he said. "This is a significant step forward for us. Our goal was to take this and not have a room where a professor would stand up and lecture for an hour and a half, but have a room where the professor would coach students as they work at the different stations around the room."
Jones College Dean David Urban said the analysis center provides students "with the tools that they need to be able to compete in the 21st century marketplace.
The opportunity to upgrade the trading room arose about a year ago, Urban said, but rather than keep the room on the third floor, the decision was made to swap places with the SunTrust meeting room to give the trading room more visibility for not only current students, but prospective students and their families visiting campus.
"This is something that any student who visits our campus who's interested in business will want to see," he said.
For more information about the Jones College's Department of Economic and Finance, visit http://www.mtsu.edu/econfin/.