The University of Texas at Austin, the largest institution of The University of Texas System, is a major research university home to more than 50,000 students, 2,900 faculty and 21,000 staff members.
Derek Fisher, assistant director of the EDS Financial Trading and Technology Center at The University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business, knows all about innovation.
“The Trading Center was the first of its kind in the country,” Mr. Fisher says. “It has been a model for other institutions. We do tours all the time for other schools that have since implemented similar programs.”
The Center is divided between a fund room and classroom/lab. The fund room is used exclusively by the 17 to 20 MBA students who are accepted each year as fund managers. On a daily basis, these students manage a $14 million privately held fund, seeded with investments from UT alumni and others.
The classroom/lab seats approximately 40 people and is a fully equipped media room. The space features all high-definition displays, video conferencing for distance learning, 40 computer stations equipped with finance applications, and four Bloomberg stations. The room offers a state-of-the-art space for mostly undergraduate financial classes. When class is not in session, the room operates
as a lab for finance students who use the computers and different data feeds for their research assignments.
Naturally, the Center also utilizes digital signage. A ticker is strategically placed outside the fund room, where it serves as a focal point in the business school, and an LED tracker is used in the classroom/lab.
In January 2010, University of Texas staff approached Rise Display about upgrading their software packages for both the ticker and LED tracker.
“It came down to an expense issue,” says Mr. Fisher. “We found out about Rise, who offered both the data and the software at a much more economical price.”
According to Fisher, the software also had additional functions that made it very enticing for UT to make the change. Among those was the ability to incorporate news headlines into the ticker, to display corporate logos on the ticker, and include rotating information on the LED tracker.
Fisher says he is satisfied with the software functionality. “I can display one set of information on the board for 20 to 30 seconds and then it will rotate and display another set of financial information for another 20 to 30 seconds,” explains Fisher. “I think the display draws people’s attention because it’s not just static information. It’s always changing. A lot of our professors really like teaching in there because . . . they will refer to the information up on the board. With our previous software, I was limited to what I could fit on the screen at one time.”
Of the software’s usability, Fisher says, “The software has certainly been easy for me to maintain. It pretty much runs itself.” He adds, “I’ve been very pleased so far with Rise’s customer service. They’ve been very responsive. They’ve also been proactive in contacting me to make sure we’re satisfied and that things are operating smoothly. It’s been a very positive experience.”