Bringing High Finance to High School
Stevens School of Business holds summer program with Brooklyn Tech students
When asked the classic back-to-school icebreaker, “How did you spend your summer vacation?” nine Brooklyn Tech students won’t mention the beach.
Instead, thanks to a partnership between their school and Stevens Institute of Technology, the group of rising sophomores through seniors who expressed an interest in business are more likely to mention learning how to, as one participant put it, “navigate professional software like Bloomberg, then using that tool to come to recognize, understand and appreciate the butterfly effects of the economic world.”
“I signed up for this opportunity because of my interest in data science,” Selena Zou, a senior at Brooklyn Tech this fall, said. “Finance was an area I had no previous knowledge in. I wanted to join a course where I could learn something new, in addition to being integrated with my interest in technology.”
Research Professor and Director of the Hanlon Financial Systems Laboratories (HSFL) Ionut Florescu and Dragos Bozdog, a teaching associate professor and HSFL’s deputy director led a six-week program introducing the financial world, including having the students become certified on the Bloomberg Terminals that are used on Wall Street.
“I believed the program we offered was going to be enticing to high school students, as it should count as summer research experience and thus help them with admission into a better college, such as Stevens,” Florescu said. “My part was to show them how to code. Basically, taking the data from Bloomberg and using R to look at the correlation between variables to determine which companies are worth investing in.”
Meeting twice a week, the students worked with not only the Stevens faculty but had the chance to interact with graduate students.
“The most interesting part of mentoring them on the introduction to finance was witnessing their gradual understanding and engagement with complex financial concepts,” said Vivek Herur, a graduate student studying financial engineering. “It was truly rewarding to observe their growth from having little to no prior knowledge of finance to becoming more confident in different topics. I found that the students often asked thought-provoking questions that pushed me to think critically and creatively in order to explain these concepts in a relatable and understandable manner. This not only deepened my own understanding of finance but also highlighted the importance of effective communication and adaptability in teaching.”
At the conclusion of the course, each student was assigned a project they had to present to the rest of the class. For example, one student used data to investigate three large energy companies, focusing on water and learning why they did better during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“While I had the opportunity to engage in discussions with the students, it was evident that they derived genuine enjoyment and value from the program,” said Pooja Mule, a graduate student pursuing her master’s degree in computer science. “This was particularly evident during their captivating project presentations.”
The exposure not only to the course material but to the college classroom, in general, was one of the biggest benefits the students were able to take back with them.
“They're shy at that age, so they put tons of information in the slides because they're afraid they're going to forget about it,” Florescu explained. “It’s very important as a teacher to discover these things and transmit this information to them so they can improve their skills.”
The success of this “pilot” program, has made Bozdog hopeful that it could be expanded beyond Brooklyn Tech in the coming years.
“Hopefully, they can spread the word when they go back to school,” Bozdog said. “They can talk about what they did during this summer and get more students interested. It would be nice to continue this next summer and be able to reach other high schools.”
If there’s any doubt about joining the program, those other schools can count on Zou to put their minds at ease.
“I would definitely recommend this program to other students!” she said. “Especially to those who have little to no knowledge of the stock market and to those who wish to understand financial jargon. Being knowledgeable about business is important for stability in life.”