Fintech News

Tech Revolution on the Hudson

Stevens Institute of Technology is Preparing The Next Generation of Finance Workers,

With Tech from Oblong Industries.

Stevens Institute of Technology is revolutionizing how it teaches finance and tech, with immersive technology from a Los Angeles-based company called Oblong Industries.

Stevens professors are “flipping the script” away from a professor-driven model to a new one which enables full participation, allowing for the students to view multiple content sources at once.  

Stevens courses utilize the company’s Mezzanine technology, preparing students for functions across the entire finance spectrum – from investment banking, asset management, sales and trading to compliance and data analytics. The lab is used for more than two dozen different courses, ranging from derivatives and portfolio construction to data visualization, as well as work with the student-managed investment fund.  

According to Stevens professor, George Calhoun, who leads the lab that employs the Oblong Mezzanine technology, “Students have been bringing their smartphones and tablets into the classroom for years. Up until a few years ago, many teachers may have tried to control that. The last stand of the PowerPoint age was to try to repress all of that.”

Finance and Tech Convergence in the Classroom

With the tumultuous period in the markets since early February, it has become increasingly clear that to fully understand the markets, one must be able to view multiple streams of information at once.  A data deluge has exponentially increased information coming in ever faster, from every angle. Tools are needed to help teams make sense of all of that. One must be able to be right in the “middle of the mess,” handling huge quantities of market data at once.  

“Smart businesses have adopted technologies that help collaborators access multiple streams of information simultaneously, from wherever they are located,” said Lilian Bories, VP, Marketing, Oblong Industries. “Access to this data-rich shared workspace is essential to advance projects and make important decisions together in real-time. It makes sense that smart institutions like Stevens are going to want these same capabilities in the classroom. It’s the best preparation for the future workplace.” 

Furthermore, Calhoun added, “In the financial world in particular, teams are the modular work unit.  The notion of bringing in the wisdom of crowds becomes front-and-center. The trading floor is a hyper-socialized environment.  Any part of this workforce is implicitly part of a social matrix that they will be working in.”

The Oblong technology at Stevens is part of a broader trend of improving tech integration across finance courses and business schools nationwide. With that said, many schools do not utilize technology innovation to the fullest extent possible, and when they do, it is to teach students what they already know.  Furthermore, the administrative cost of introducing technology in teaching and learning requires an initial large investment.

Information at Students’ Fingertips

Technology has made it possible for all information to be at students’ fingertips in the classroom. Imagine a class where each student has his or her own teacher…. Interesting right. That is what the Stevens Institute and Oblong have been able to achieve for hundreds of Stevens students.

With billions of pages on the internet available for learning, and video conferencing tools like Skype and Google, now students can talk to people all over the world about the topics they are exploring in the classroom. This enhances student engagement, collaborating with professionals in the field, for the subject they are studying.

“This generation coming up is super tech savvy and naturally collaborative,” said Bories.  “There are no boundaries for them, with their mobile devices they are sharing content with each other, in real time, all the time. With that, they expect the same engaging technology at work to solve complex business problems.”

According to Calhoun, “The educational format that we have used for decades has reached the end of its life cycle.  There is now, rightfully, a big push to bring richer media and multi-threaded conversations into the classroom.”

Shifting Wall Street Technology

Trading has always been a part of economic engines that have driven the world’s largest economies.  In the past, it was all about people shouting at each other over the phone. Now algorithm-driven markets have become automated, efficient and more profitable.  Without a doubt, explaining collateral rise or high-frequency trading programs is very difficult going by the book method. Technology is already eliminating the middlemen who collect fees and further streamlining the process overall.  There are vast changes across the landscape of Fintech, which the next generation workforce must be abreast of.

As such, the old model of a professor transmitting lines of information sequentially, in a linear format needs to be replaced with a new and highly collaborative model where things are shared in real time.  

“Furthermore, as Fintech continues to develop and incubate, a lab like ours at Stevens gives a platform for evaluating, testing and presenting anything that is going on in the market – not tomorrow, not next week, but right now,” added Calhoun.

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