Grant Funds Alperin Center Renovations

4/13/09

Using funds from a $250,000 grant received from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Education, the University's Kania School of Management recently completed the third phase of development of its Irwin E. Alperin Financial Center, which was dedicated in 2008.

Funding from the grant helped to expand the Alperin Center's core technology capabilities with the installation of new equipment, including a teaching station with a "smart screen" and three high resolution computer monitors at each of the 14 student-team computer workstations. The ultimate goal is to create a state-of-the-art Business Engineering Laboratory for students and faculty.

The Alperin Financial Center, a teaching, learning and research laboratory located in Brennan Hall, features a simulated stock market trading room floor complete with electronic ticker, specialized trading software and live data feeds from currency, securities and commodities markets.

Business course instructors using the "smart screen," a large touch-panel display, can now project materials from various input sources, make notes on the projected materials using digital pens and manipulate data using their index finger as a mouse.

The new teaching station allows instructors to directly interact with source material transmitted to each student team's third monitor, according to professor Robert S. Colombo, who teaches a new two-semester graduate course titled "Foreign Currency Analysis and Trading" and "Advanced Foreign Currency Analysis and Trading."

"Two of the screens are for the student to display price charts, news, data or any other information that the student can control or access from their local computer," said Colombo, who is also president and founder of CEREBRONIX, a New Jersey-based technology consulting firm whose trading platform expertise is being utilized to develop the Alperin Center. "The third screen is controlled by the instructor and can deliver what the instructor is displaying on his/her local computer. For example, I can play back a PowerPoint presentation on my instructor's workstation and have that playback shown on each student's third screen-like closed circuit TV. Additionally, I can use the touch-panel to write on top of that PowerPoint display, and those writings would also show up on the student's third screen."

The first phase of development of the Alperin Center included the installation of the electronic ticker and news and data displays, and was made possible through support by the family of the late Irwin E. Alperin, a former trustee, benefactor and friend of the University.

The second phase took place in spring 2008, when Scranton received a $196,000 grant from Wall Street West, a non-profit partnership of more than two dozen local, regional and statewide economic development agencies, technology investment groups, workforce development organizations, educational and research institutions and experts from the private sector.

The Wall Street West grant was used to develop the foreign currency trading course and a simulated trading laboratory. Colombo worked with John N. Kallianiotis, Ph.D., professor of economics/finance, to develop the two-course sequence. Platforms were also developed for simulated foreign currency trading. A live data feed for foreign currency data was installed.

The Kania School of Management is accredited by the AACSB-International, the most recognized and respected business school accrediting body.

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