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May 31, 2001

Training the Next Generation

By Sanford Wexler

Bull market or bear market -- mock trading rooms are continuing to sprout up at colleges and universities across the country. One of the latest is at the Smeal College of Business Administration at Pennsylvania State University in State College, Pa.

This past April the business school swung open the doors to the Smeal College Trading Room.

The trading room has some 40 computers with software for simulated trading, settlement, analysis, and portfolio management. Students can access real-time financial information through Bloomberg, Bridge, Datastream, First Call, Reuters, and other data providers.

Like a real-life trading room, the facility is equipped with television monitors that are tuned to CNBC, CNNfn, Bloomberg, and other financial networks.

The state-of-the-art trading room doubles as a classroom as well as a laboratory.

"It's one thing to learn about trading in a textbook or a lecture and it's another thing when students actually get to trade," said a proud J. Randall Wooldridge, professor of finance and director of the trading room at the Smeal College of Business Administration.

"I believe [simulated trading] is a direct application of what students are learning in the classroom. Now students get to understand how to trade and how to take a position," Wooldridge added.