Dept. aims to help community excel

Christian Brewster Photo credit: Oliver Chapin-Eiserloh

Photo by Oliver Chapin-Eiserloh

This semester, Trinity will become a certified testing center for two Microsoft Office Specialist Certifications: Excel 2016 Associate and Excel 2016 Expert. The certification will allow students intending to enter the business sphere to gain a certification that demonstrates their skills to employers.

James Maxey, visiting instructor of Finance and Decision Sciences, spearheaded this initiative over the summer and will proctor the first round of exams starting Nov. 23. Maxey teaches BAT 1101: Spreadsheet Modeling and BAT 1102: Intermediate Spreadsheet Modeling.

“In effect, it’s a way for our students to demonstrate their skills because they can come and take my class, but the business community says, ‘Yeah, they took a class, but that’s great or not great,’” Maxey said.

The exam will be limited to those affiliated with Trinity. The department worked with Certiport, an exam certification developer and management company.

“For instance, we’re going to only be offering testing for Trinity students, [faculty] and staff but not to external parties. We have some privacy issues that we need to respect as a higher learning institution, and we worked with Certiport and Academic Affairs to get that contract resolved,” said Jorge Colazo, chair of finance and decision sciences.

Maxey and Colazo have been working with Information Technology Services (ITS) to get the Microsoft software for the exams installed. Leticia Fuentes, ITS business analyst, has been working to get the programs installed before the Nov. 23 start date. There will be four iterations of the exam this semester.

“The project is expected to commence by the end of the month. After testing the software and purchasing the required licenses to active exam availability, the project is expected to be completed during November,” Fuentes said.

The initial costs of licensing are being paid for through a grant part of a $30,000 provided to the finance and decision sciences department earlier this semester by Valero, the oil and gas company. It is directed to initiatives surrounding the business analytics and technology major.

“Part of our plan in seeking the grant was we were basically promising that most of the money was going to go back to students in some form or another, and that’s basically what we’re doing,” Colazo said.

Individuals taking either of the certification exams will be required to pay $25 for the exam before taking it. Typically, the exam costs $100 to take. In this way, the program should be self-sustaining as the costs to take the exam will cover the costs of the exam licenses and administration.

“It’s supposed to be financially self-sustaining. Obviously, we’re not making a profit or anything, but what we use the grant for is for the initial disbursement that we need to do,” Colazo said.

Maxey has created a list of topics for his BAT 1101 and 1102 classes to review before the exam. The certification is optional for all students.

“We’re doing everything we can to make them successful,” Maxey said.

Colazo emphasized that this certification will help students in the long-run.

“In the BAT program, we already offer a certification in Tableau. We are offering a certification in lean processing improvement through the Society of Manufacturing Engineers. This is another badge that students can take with them when they graduate from Trinity,” Colazo said.