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Cryptocurrencies, portfolio management, entrepreneurship: New courses for graduate engineering students

Steve Mann, a professor in the department of electrical and computer engineering, is a prolific inventor and founder of the field of wearable computing. He is teaching a graduate course in "inventrepreneurship" (photo courtesy of Steve Mann)

On the surface, they seem like business courses, but three new classes – blockchain and cryptocurrencies, real-market portfolio management and invention and entrepreneurship – are being launched this fall for graduate students in the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering. 

The courses are designed for those working in finance, business, technology and beyond.

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“Engineers, with their pragmatic and quantitative backgrounds, are much better equipped than the general public to understand the subtleties and inner workings of the blockchain and its cryptocurrency applications,” said Loren Trigo, who will co-teach courses on portfolio management, blockchain and cryptocurrencies with Sabatino Costanzo.

“As industry leaders of the future, they must understand the system that is becoming the fabric of the modern exchange of both information and value – this is the new ‘language’ in which not only modern finance, but entrepreneurship and business in general, will soon be spoken.”

The three new courses include:

Portfolio Management Praxis under Real Market Constraints (APS1051)

This course is designed to show financial markets are not fully efficient, meaning that profitable arbitrage opportunities are available to those who learn the principles that rule them.

A set of practical, applicable techniques will allow students to objectively evaluate the performance of a portfolio and its manager, and a proven set of up-to-date practical, applicable and scalable management techniques will enable them to manage their own portfolios under real market constraints.

Costanzo and Trigo will also look at what has been done in portfolio management in the last 80 years, what is being done now and what could become the investment portfolio management of the future.

Blockchain Technologies and Cryptocurrencies (APS1050)

Bitcoin is a particular implementation of blockchain technology that has led to a disruptive product: a digital cryptocurrency with the potential to compete with fiat currencies. This course will provide students with the concepts and mechanics of the blockchain technologies starting with Bitcoin, allowing them to identify business-relevant benchmarking criteria for blockchain technologies in accordance with their current and future impact on business processes.

On a practical level, the course will enable students to set up a Bitcoin account that follows rigorous safety protocols, so as to enable students to become familiar with this revolutionary technology. As a bonus, cryptocurrency trading algorithms will be provided and discussed.

Inventrepreneurship: Invention + Entrepreneurship (APS 1041)

In the world’s first course on the subject, Steve Mann, a professor in the department of electrical and computer engineering, and a prolific inventor and founder of the field of wearable computing, wants to be your inventor-mentor.

“There is a lot of innovation that comes from entrepreneurship, it’s a common blend. But what I’m bringing is a blend of invention and entrepreneurship,” said Mann, who will teach alongside a team of world-class collaborators and entrepreneurs.

Mann aims to instill the art and science of invention and entrepreneurship, with the final deliverable of the course being a working prototype and patent application relating to a new invention in wearable computing, phenomenal augmented reality, or sensory augmentation.

“The intention is to bring these inventions forward to market,” said  Mann. “My goal here is to mentor students to become inventors and take something – a product that matters – into the world.”