On October 6, 1995, four years of planning and preparation by Abraham Mulugetta, professor of finance and international business, and a number of other faculty members from the business school culminated in the opening of the Center for Trading and Analysis of Financial Instruments (CTAFI). The trading room nearly doubled in size when it relocated to the Park Center for Business and Sustainable Enterprise in spring 2008.
This innovative center, dedicated to the study of financial, currency, and commodity markets was, to the best of our knowledge, the first in the field with the largest number of workstations of any undergraduate institution in the nation. The trading room, where students can simultaneously access information in real time and make critical decisions, is an essential tool for narrowing the gap between students' academic knowledge and practitioners' need for real-world experience.
The trading room provides students with a "hands-on" feel for exchange activities of financial and commodity instruments -- from the initiation of orders to the final phase of trade execution. This visualization of the process of securities, currencies, and commodities transactions is a powerful tool for teaching financial and commodity instruments' valuation, market imperfections, speed of information transmission, price discovery, etc.
Thus, the center captures the atmosphere of an actual trading environment, providing students with access to real-time market data received from various exchanges connected to 44 workstations utilizing Thomson Reuter's state-of-the-art Thomson One software package, plus another five workstations in a smaller lab across the hall.
The trading room enables students to engage in real-time security exchange activities ranging from viewing bid and ask prices, associated volumes, and initiating orders, to simulating final trade executions as they actually occur in the financial markets. The center also hosts the CTAFI Investment Challenge each semester, which promotes hands-on competitive learning in the ever-changing world of business, and the IC Investment Club, a mutual fund created and managed by IC students.
Business faculty members see the Center for Trading and Analysis of Financial Instruments as "a powerful teaching tool allowing the blending of practical aspects of securities trading with conceptual discourse on the market operational efficiency." In short, the center forges a substantial link between the classroom and the real needs and problems of financial market practitioners.