Student Trading Club competition winner receives $500 award

James Barnett, a freshman from Wayne, New Jersey, was announced as the winner of the 2015 spring semester Penn State Altoona Trading Club Competition during an awards ceremony in the Sheetz Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence on April 7. The top three finishers in the competition all expanded their portfolios on the virtual trading platform by over 16 percent.

The competition began Feb. 3 and concluded March 26, 2015. Barnett, who is majoring in finance, earned the first-place award of $500. The runner-up in the competition was Kathleen Vankirk, a sophomore from Tipton, Pennsylvania.

Barnett expanded his portfolio by nearly $192,000 over two months of virtual trading. His return was a record 76.76 percent. Vankirk, who is majoring in accounting, earned the $350 award for placing second with a return of 38.49 percent. Third-place finisher Brandon Piller, a freshman from Los Angeles, California, who is majoring in business, won the $250 award with a return of 16.37 percent.

“The 2015 spring trading competition proved to be a huge success with a lot of spirited competition,” said Robert E. Belsterling, Trading Club adviser. “Students did an exceptional job of strategically managing their portfolios in spite of tremendous volatility in the markets. To put things in perspective, the overall increase in the S&P 500 was approximately 1.75 percent during the trading competition period. The first through seventh-place winners all had returns of more than three times the rate of growth in the S&P 500.”

The Trading Club competition provides students with opportunities to manage an investment portfolio on a virtual trading platform while acquiring a broader understanding of how financial markets function. Participants acquire a personal understanding of capital markets through simulated investments. Students traded stocks, bonds, mutual funds, options, futures, and spot contracts for world currencies and commodities on more than 30 global exchanges. All Penn State Altoona students are eligible to register for the competition, regardless of major. The spring competition included a record fifty participants.

“The Trading Club experience was one to remember,” says Barnett. “It was competitive yet fun because I had many friends in the competition. I learned much about new ways of trading, from futures to bonds to options.”

Funding for the Trading Club’s awards is made possible through the ongoing philanthropic support of Carroll P. and Diane S. Osgood, of Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania. Awards totaling $1,500 were presented to the 10 students with the highest portfolio values on the final day of trading. Each award was based on a student’s ranking on the virtual trading platform. All awards are credited to the students’ Penn State accounts to defray educational expenses.


Dr. Barbara A. Wiens-Tuers (left), head, Division of Business and Engineering, and Robert E. Belsterling (right), Trading Club advisor, present a commemorative check to James Barnett, winner of the 2015 spring semester Trading Club Competition at Penn State Altoona.  Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Last Updated April 08, 2015