The Linde Institute grew out of Caltech's successful and expanding program in business, economics, and management (BEM), which is one of the more popular undergraduate options (i.e., majors) at Caltech, often combined with a science, math, or engineering major. The BEM option provides students with the analytical tools to operate successfully in a modern and volatile business environment. The emphasis is on finance, design of institutions (such as markets, organizations, and networks), and strategy in a free-market competitive or strategic situation, or in a politicized setting. Because today's business environment is complex, the required courses in this option are highly analytical and can be complemented by case studies.
BEM faculty have a range of backgrounds in such fields as economics, political science, mathematics, psychology, and law. As a result, courses go beyond the content found in traditional business administration programs. Graduating from Caltech with a BEM option gives students the interdisciplinary education and training they need to establish successful careers as leaders and entrepreneurs in many fields, including management, consulting, technology, and banking.
As part of the ongoing interchange between The Linde Institute and the option, the institute has sponsored new experimental seminars and courses. One example is the special course offered in the fall of 2012 called Selected Topics in Economics: Business Analytics. This course challenged students to examine and practice all parts of the data science pipeline for use in business decision making: problem specification, data munging (format synchronization), data exploration, statistical modeling, and presentation.
By the end of the course, students had acquired new tools to deconstruct a broad problem into logical units and pick a strategy for analysis based on the structure of the data. Students also learned techniques for gathering, transforming, and cleaning data from disparate sources while building a toolkit of analytical techniques. Lecturer Alice Lin (PhD in computation and neural systems, 2012) returns to Caltech in the spring of 2014 to co-teach this class with Peter Foley (PhD in social sciences, 2013), director of science and technology at Lightbox Analytics.