Cardiff University’s Business School has opened for the 2014/2015 academic year with a new £13.5 million postgraduate teaching centre, housing the latest in technology with a renewed focus on providing students with ‘real-world’ business skills.
The new postgraduate teaching centre includes a concourse area, lecture theatres and an executive education suite, all of which are fitted with Stone Group hardware to enable collaboration on the University network. The teaching rooms and common rooms are also supplied with Stone Group hardware.
Prior to the new buildings, the Business School was working with the architectural footprint it had, utilising every available space for teaching and open access areas. Communal access to ICT was provided, but the ageing equipment was struggling to cope with the increasing demands on its processing power and digital abilities.
The Business School had created a prototype trading room facility using ICT hardware it already had within its estate, which had been a successful venture. It was decided that the trading room should form a more integral part of the new building’s design, and that a more realistic trading floor environment should be created at the same time.
As one of Cardiff University’s preferred suppliers, Stone Group was in a strong position to work with the ICT team on its specific ambitions for the new buildings. As planning progressed, Stone’s team worked closely with Neil Davies, the Technical Services Manager at the Business School, to scope out the total requirement for the new building.
Neil Davies explains, “It goes without saying that creating a specification for the technology for a new building is quite complex. The requirements of each faculty, student body, even degree discipline need to be considered. We also needed to future-proof our choices, making sure hardware was robust enough to cope with increasing demands on its memory and data capacity, as well as durability in terms of handling by staff and students. We needed to plan where the hardware would be located, using the building’s blueprints and architect’s vision as a guide, and then match these locations with the most appropriate solution.
“Planning the trading room’s specification was exciting – we enjoyed the re-creation aspect of it, ensuring that its contents, look and feel matched those of any City trading floor.
“Our biggest challenges were timescale and deadlines. We, of course, could only complete the IT install after the building itself and the supporting networks were in place, tested and ready to use. We knew this would most likely be a six-week period, over the summer holiday.”
Neil Davies explains how the creation of the total solution was aided by Stone: “I’ve worked with the Stone team a lot and was completely comfortable with their consultation. They worked hard to understand the scope, budget parameters, project goals and risk issues of the project, and were exceedingly supportive of our ambitions for the new building, particularly the trading room, and common areas.”
Once the building was completed, Stone’s and Cardiff’s team worked together to create the vision. The installation and testing was completed on time, for the start of the new semester.
Stone has provided the new look open access areas, staff offices and the student library facilities with:
The new Business School Trading Room has been equipped with:
- 57 x StonePC Lite and 114 x monitors to provide dual screens for students
- A further 23 high specification StonePC Lite for the displays
- Bloomberg, Thomson Reuters Eikon and TraderEx simulation software to provide real-time trading and Global Investors portfolio management
- Two screens and projectors for lecturers and teachers who want to demonstrate to students
- Five large format displays so that students can collaborate
Dr Woon Wong, module leader for Principles of Finance and Investment & Electronic Trading, Cardiff Business School, explains the Trading Room improvements from his perspective: “After successfully using the prototype technology in our former premises, we worked with Stone Group to create a trading room where students can access and use professional trading room software, gather information and interpret it quickly. We have two financial IT systems – from Bloomberg and Thompson Reuters. They are exactly the same systems that will be found in London, or any financial hub.
“Our teaching is frequently based on abstract concepts and theory that, in employment, needs to be put into practice. The Trading Room is important because it lets the students translate learned theory into practical application within an educational environment. Work placements in financial environments cannot be guaranteed, as sometimes supply from potential employers is far lower than demand, so the Trading Room is really enhancing our abilities to meet student needs and those of employers, too.
“Understanding of the financial markets demands practical experience. It goes without saying that familiarity and proficiency with real-world financial technology is a huge pre-employment advantage.”
Neil Davies continues, “Stone Group has created an environment for us that most traders, brokers and financiers would recognise – multi-screens, fast processing, the ability to switch quickly between applications; this is giving our students an instant ‘comfort-zone’ feeling when they graduate into the real world of work.”
“We are training students to use two professional platforms, Thomson Reuters Eikon and Bloomberg, which require a certificate of completion. This enhances their CV and is a bonus for employers, but is also a benchmark for us. Stone has given us this competitive edge by providing such a solid platform.
“Since opening, we are seeing more and more colleagues using our syllabus in their teachings. We now have about a dozen school academic modules incorporating the Trading Room into their lecture plans.”