MSPE Program Designated STEM Program
On December 20, 2016, the MSPE Program was designated a STEM program (CIP Code 45.0603). This will allow MSPE graduates, who participate in Optional Practical Training (OPT) with an employer in the United States, to file a request for a two-year extension to the normal one year of OPT. For more information on the OPT STEM, visit the International Student and Scholar Services website.
New MSPE Class
This fall, 76 new students entered the MSPE Program. This new class hailed from 11 different countries around the world (2 Brazil, 1 Chile, 46 China, 2 India, 6 Indonesia, 2 Kazakhstan, 2 Paraguay, 5 South Korea, 4 Thailand, 1 Turkey, and 5 U.S.). These students joined the 68 continuing students in the program.
The fall semester kicked off with our annual picnic on August 27 at Lake of the Woods in Mahomet. This was the first real opportunity for the new and continuing students to meet each other as well as some faculty in the department. All had a chance to show off their skills at volleyball, badminton, ping pong, or other yard games or to simply relax and chat with others. Lunch included an array of delicious "picnic" foods to enjoy.
On November 18, the annual Thanksgiving luncheon took place in the Illini Union. Students, staff, and faculty feasted on a semi-traditional assortment of turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry relish, and a variety of other dishes. What a way to start the fall break!
Photos for many of these events can be found on our MSPE Photo Gallery.
As always, the annual picnic was held in August at Lake of the Woods in Mahomet, which offered the first real opportunity for the new and continuing students to get to know each other and to also meet some faculty in the department.
The students, staff, and some of the faculty enjoyed a somewhat “traditional” Thanksgiving luncheon in November. It seems that stuffing, gravy, and cranberry relish are still mystery foods to our overseas students!
The annual holiday party was moved this year to the Alice Campbell Alumni Center, which provided a very elegant atmosphere. Over 190 guests enjoyed an evening that began with holiday piano music played by our own Professor Case Sprenkle during the cocktail hour, followed by a sit-down dinner, a tribute speech by the director of the MSPE Program, Professor Firouz Gahvari, and concluded with a visit by jolly ole Santa Claus.
The final social event for the semester was the graduation dinner honoring our 33 graduating students, which was held at the Champaign Country Club.
Photos for many of these events can be found on our MSPE Photo Gallery.
The field trips are a popular and important feature of the program. We continue to offer six field trips throughout the academic year.
For the first fall trip, students traveled to Moline, IL to visit the world headquarters of John Deere. Established in 1837, John Deere manufacturers agricultural, construction, forestry machinery diesel engines, drivetrains for heavy equipment, and lawn care equipment. On February 10th, students enjoyed exploring the display floor that included an array of products. Guides were available to answer questions and provided the students with an in depth history of JD and its international operations. The visit also included a tour of the seeding plant, where the students had an opportunity to see the manufacturing process and find out how technology and automation has replaced many jobs.
On February 24th, the MSPE students attended a presentation by Deloitte in Chicago. Midori Nakamura, an August 2007 MSPE alum, organized the presentation. Both Midori and Dr. Nicola Lostumbo talked about their work in the group who consults companies on transfer pricing, the work environment at Deloitte, as well as internship opportunities. They also spoke about the tax system in the U.S. and the tax plan of the new administration.
We concluded the academic year with a spring break trip to Washington, DC (March 19 – 24). Students attended presentations by the World Bank, Federal Trade Commission, International Monetary Fund, and the Inter-American Development Bank.
Our first visit was to the World Bank. The presentation began with an overview of World Bank history, organizational structure, and missions. The speaker talked about different phases that the World Bank has gone through, starting as a reconstruction bank until now with its involvement in developmental activities like developing human capital and institutional building.
Our second visit was to the Federal Trade Commission. Our visit began with a presentation about history, structure and activities of the FTC as an agency responsible for promotion of consumer protection and the elimination and prevention of anticompetitive business practices, such as coercive monopoly. Next was a talk about the theoretical basis for analyzing mergers. Finally, the visit concluded with information about two mergers the FTC had been involved in; one concerned the merger of two casinos and the other dealt with hospital mergers.
Our third visit was to the International Monetary Fund. The presenter highlighted the IMF history, organizational structure, missions, and its developments over time.
Our final visit was to the Inter-American Development Bank. The event started with an overview of the IDB group followed by a presentation about Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC) activities in support of private sector activities. The third presentation was about the job opportunities at the IDB. The visit concluded with a talk about the work of IDB in reform and modernization of the state.
The first fall field trip was to the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) on September 16. CBOE is the world’s largest options exchange and the leader in product innovation, options education, and trading volume. Mr. Kevin Davitt, Sr. Instructor for the Options Institute, began the visit with a presentation about what “options” are and explained the difference between “call” and “put” options. The students then were given the opportunity to tour the trading floor. After the tour, Ms. Roma Colwell-Steinke, Sr. Administrator of the Options Institute, gave a brief talk that covered the history, organization and activities of CBOE. Each student received a trading badge as a souvenir.
On October 21, the MSPE students visited the world headquarters of Monsanto, a sustainable agriculture company located in St. Louis, Missouri. Monsanto products include agricultural and vegetable seeds. The day included a tour of one of Monsanto’s research facilities.
The final fall trip was to the Illinois Farm Bureau in Bloomington on November 4. The IFB is an association of farmers, which was formed 100 years ago to further farmer interests. Presentation topics included eminent domain, the IFB as a private sector membership association and their role in civil society, farm policy and other policy issues, and food and fuel issues.
The first fall field trip was to Caterpillar in Peoria in September. Students started the visit off with a walking tour of the Caterpillar East Peoria track-type tractor assembly plant. During the luncheon, the students enjoyed a presentation by Dr. Laura Speake, Regional Chief Economist-Business Economics. Dr. Speake explained to the group that a large portion of CAT’s business depends on exports to China, Europe, and other countries. She talked about the global economic prospects and its effects on CAT exports. The fact that China is not growing as fast, Europe is still struggling, and emerging markets are experiencing a commodity price shock and a strong dollar, all have affected CAT’s business. After the presentation, the students were given some time to enjoy the interactive displays and exhibits at the Visitors Center.
In October, the MSPE students traveled to St. Louis, Missouri, to visit the Federal Reserve Bank. Dr. Alex Monge, Research Officer of the FRB and Professor of Economics at Washington University, gave a brief overview of the FED organization and activities. He then talked about the financial crisis and the unconventional policies (like quantitative easing, forward guidance, paying interest on reserves, etc.) that the FED has followed since the crisis. Dr. Monge went on to discuss the economic situation and policies in developed countries and emerging markets. The visit concluded with a visit to the Fed’s Inside the Economy Museum, which explains the economy through nearly 100 exhibits.
The last trip for the fall semester was to Springfield, Illinois. The students started the day with presentations at the Office of Management and Budget by Anna O’Connell, Principal Budget Analyst, and Alex Sturn, Deputy Director. Their talk focused on how state budgets are prepared and passed, determining the share of the budget for different activities, and the current budget crisis in Illinois. After lunch, the students were given the opportunity to explore the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum.
Our first field trip was to the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. The visit began with a presentation by Rick Mattoon, a senior economist and economic advisor in the economic research department, who talked about the functions of the Fed and the 2016 economic outlook for the U.S. Mr. Mattoon looked at the positive and negative indicators of economic performance and the current forecast. The day concluded with a visit to the Money Museum.
The second spring field trip was to visit Archer Daniels Midland in Decatur, Illinois. The visit began with a bus tour of the ADM facilities. Mr. Parry Dixon, senior economist, then gave a brief overview of ADM where students learned that since 1900, ADM’s net worth has grown to $81 billion, and employs over 33,000 employees in it its 760+ facilities around the world. During the “Global Agriculture Trends” portion of his presentation, Mr. Dixon highlighted the world’s supply/demand for agricultural products, world consumption trends, and the future trends and factors in world agriculture. The topic led to a variety of engaging questions from the students.
The highlight of the academic year was the spring break field trip to New York City (March 20 – 25). Students attended presentations by the United Nations, Council on Foreign Relations, Standard & Poor’s, and TIAA-CREF. As in the past, students were also given time to explore the city.