Carnegie Mellon University
April 26, 2022

Students Take Stock of Their Math Skills

By Kirsten Heuring

Jocelyn Duffy
  • Associate Dean for Communications, MCS
  • 412-268-9982

On March 26, Carnegie Mellon University students participated in the Market Making Game, sponsored by the Quant Club and Optiver, a trading firm that specializes in improving the market. Students who participated were asked to solve math problems and make trades and sales based on different problems’ perceived values.

Students worked in groups to both solve problems and make trades. In each round, they were given 10 minutes to solve math problems and estimate a trade’s worth. Then for 30 minutes, they rushed around the room as if they were Wall Street traders, attempting to get the best deal possible. 

“Give a bunch of 20-year-olds a game and fake cash and they go crazy,” joked Gan Yang, the president of the Quant Club. “It’s meant to be messy and energetic. It’s not like our other events.”

Between rounds, students were given direction and advice by Randall Laurence, Optiver’s Trader Education Lead. He made suggestions about improving trading strategies, urging students to not just settle for a good trade but to try to make the best trades they possibly could.

“A part of me is jealous that the first years and sophomores at the event had this experience, which I would've loved to receive back when I was first exploring the field,” said Yang.

During each round, students were given tips by Optiver traders and engineers like Leon Chang, a Carnegie Mellon College of Engineering alumnus who now works as an Optiver Software Engineer. He said CMU prepared him well for his work and he was excited that Optiver decided to sponsor the event.

“We really like people who enjoy challenges,” said Chang. “We’re always willing to sponsor great events like this.”

Based on students’ performance throughout the event, Optiver hoped to find students who stood out and would potentially be good additions to the company as interns or full-time employees.

“It’s great to see the excitement around trading,” said Brianna Miller, Optiver’s Graduate Recruitment Lead. “We’ve been in Pittsburgh awhile now as a recruiting effort, so it’s nice to get involved in sponsoring events.”

Students were also enthusiastic about the in-person format.

“I did this event virtually last year, but in person, it’s more exciting and intense, and it’s definitely more fun,” said Vicky Li, a junior in the Tepper School of Business. “It was a great learning experience for everyone, not just for the trading enthusiasts, but also for those who want to explore the communication and psychological game of making profits in a room full of people who have the exact same objective.” 

In total, six teams received awards at the end of the day. Three teams were picked for Estimation (how close they got to the actual value of the stock), and three teams were picked for Trading (how much money they were able to make during the game). The first-place teams for Estimation and Trading, Exit Liquidity and LDS were able to join Optiver Traders for a celebratory dinner. 

Overall, the Quant Club was pleased with the enthusiasm from both the sponsors and the students throughout the event. So many students applied to attend the event this year that not everyone could participate. The Quant Club hopes that next year, they can host a larger event that will be able to include more students.