Wichita State unveils high-tech trading center inside business school

WSU Foundation President Elizabeth King speaks during the opening of the Koch Global Trading Center. (Sept. 19, 2014)
WSU Foundation President Elizabeth King speaks during the opening of the Koch Global Trading Center. (Sept. 19, 2014) The Wichita Eagle

Wichita State University officials unveiled to donors and others on Friday its business school’s new Koch Global Trading Center.

About 75 people attended a ribbon-cutting for the center, housed immediately off the main floor lobby of Clinton Hall, where the Barton School of Business is located.

The center comprises a renovated 800-square-foot room with a 60-foot-long digital financial ticker that runs along the ceiling, five flat screen monitors on the walls that display live market data and television channels, and 30 PC workstations with two screens each that provide students with real-time financial data.

The center is aimed at providing students the ability to learn and understand the financial, commodities and energy trading markets.

Simulations “allow students to make mistakes – and learn from them,” said Timothy Craft, an associate professor of finance and director of the center, in remarks before the ribbon-cutting.

Craft said it took about three months to complete construction of the center, which was designed by GLMV Architecture and built by Bauer & Son Construction.

Rick LeCompte, professor and chair of WSU’s department of finance, real estate and decision sciences, told the audience he was the first to lead a class in the center this summer. He said four different classes are using the center this semester.

Officials, including WSU President John Bardo, credited LeCompte with developing the idea for the center.

Bardo said the trading center fits with WSU’s strategy of preparing students to have the knowledge and skills to immediately enter the workforce upon graduation.

“Thank you for not giving up on this dream,” Bardo said, looking at LeCompte.

A host of corporate and individual donors completely funded the center, said WSU Foundation President Elizabeth King, who added not many projects like this are “100 percent privately funded” at state universities.

Koch Industries was the initial donor on the project. Other corporate donors include Allegro Development, a Dallas-based software firm, Cargill Meat Solutions and Murfin Inc.

Craft said the trading center will allow the business school to develop additional classes, including those focused on the commodities and energy markets.

Reach Jerry Siebenmark at 316-268-6576 or Follow him on Twitter: @jsiebenmark.