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MFE- A suggestion

Andy Nguyen

pkpos said:

I read with interest the Michael Page documents you had forwarded last week, and they sparked an idea about a possible course for our program.

We currently offer refresher courses to prepare new students for the challenging material ahead, but how about an intensive one-semester review course (during the student's last year) to hone critical skill sets and to reinforce the most salient financial engineering concepts? In essence, this would be the program's capstone course. I think it would be a great way to help ensure the students' core competencies and their readiness for interviews and the workforce, which in turn would only serve to enhance further our program's stature among recruiters and potential employers.

Perhaps the current capstone course (MTH 9903) could be offered instead as an elective thesis for those who wish to pursue a doctoral program or specific research interests.



bresnick said:
With all due respect, I disagree with this idea on both fronts.

First, I don't think it is necessary to have a class to review other
classes. You can just go back and review your notes for that.

Second, I think the capstone is a great way for students to take what they have learned and do something innovative. In my opinion if you can't take the knowledge you've learned and use it as a tool to create something new and unique, than you may as well have learned nothing. Doing away with the capstone would be a real mistake.
Dmitry said:
More questions than answers, unfortunately... It is hard to tell how innovative or unique or marketable the capstone projects really are. I can't really judge, since I have never done one, and I have not seen any other students' projects, although it would be interesting to track the fate of these projects. Also, what is the big goal here? If it is to learn new things in order to get a job, then the last class should be more real world oriented than theoretical. I could suggest learning how to use Bloomberg and numerous risk management applications with a programming part or honing interviewing and presentation skills. From my experience, it is not the smartest candidate who gets the job most of the time, but the most well rounded and certainly the best presenter.
Does anyone know what is the experience of other schools with the capstone like classes? Is it mandatory or elective?


My 2 cents...

I like the idea.... a class for reviewing the entire program, at the end of the program. What could be better?
Getting help to prepare or refresh the materials learned months/years earlier must be great...

If possible, may be, an elective class outside the program (i.e. like the refresher class) will serve every ones need.
Former students can always comeback for one class(es) to refresh (i.e. take the easy way out, instead of digging through the
materials by himself/herself)

May be latter, Baruch can build on this class(es) and also offer Financial Engineering Certification, like Paul Wilmot offers CQF (Certificate in
Quantitative Finance). You can see details at http://www.7city.com/cqf.php?area=quants&outline=cqf&course=cqf




New Member
Dmitry, I THOROUGHLY agree with the points you have made pertaining to "real
world" experience, Bloomberg, applications, presentations.

I'm not entirely sure a thesis project is going to prepare us more for a job
as an engineer. Currently working on a trading desk and looking to maybe
switch jobs, I think it would be more beneficial for people to revisit
programming Monte Carlo and things of that nature. And also to revisit some
things that us part-timers start 4-5 semesters prior. I absolutely agree
that the last class should be real world oriented because that is what gets
us jobs. A project is specific and I'm not sure what the long term benefits
of that are. I think the original suggestion made my Paul is much more
beneficial to us.


Well-Known Member
I think the real world stuff will be honed in the real world anyway. A class/seminar to review basics would certainly be helpful though I'm assuming the things we learn we use in later classes. Is this a mistaken assumption? I actually wouldnt mind doing a research project per se and I have a nice "laboratory" i.e. my job to look at and choose some things. (I do structured finance derivatives bond pricing for anyone interested)


New Member
Perhaps as a seminary?

I agree with Brian.

The capstone is an opportunity to further our knowledge.

A recap sounds reasonable to me only if (1) it is voluntary and (2) it is a non-credit seminar series.



Baruch MFE Director
The idea is interesting. I do not see it as a course, though, since the last courses should be advanced and special topics type, not review.

Many people find jobs before graduation, so such a course would not be relevant to them anymore.

I am trying to put together a list of topics that people should now, at least for the core math classes. One could then review the material around those points on her or his own.


Active Member
I am a student who has completed a capstone project, and can offer a perspective that many of the students do not have yet. A capstone project is an intellectual endeavor; one creates a framework out of nothingness. That is a remarkable achievement. And it does hold value. A student can talk about the capstone project during an interview, and amaze the heck out of an interviewer.

That being said. I do side with Dmitry. I think the type of course that Dmitry described holds a great deal of practical value. An interviewer would be amazed by the complexity of a capstone project, but knowing how to use the Bloomberg would weigh more heavily on the his/her scale of evaulating competencies.

One way such a class may be structured during the following:

1) Work on a past case study from the Lehman Brothers Challenge or a complex, real-world problem that the alumni had worked on in their companies

2) create a model, and implement it in code, Excel, Matlab, or something else.

3) Present your model on a biweekly basis

4) at the end, evaluate which model is the best and why