Students place CSUF on map
By Jonathan Hansen
Daily Titan Staff Writer
Perched atop Langsdorf Hall, nine Cal State Fullerton accounting majors and winners of the international Annual XBRL Academic Competition were congratulated Thursday by President Milton Gordon in his conference room. The teams from CSUF dominated the competition, winning three out of eight possible awards in four categories. CSUF was the only school to have more than one winning team. "At this point, CSUF is recognized as the leader in XBRL around the world," said Paul Foote, accounting professor and faculty adviser to the winning teams.
XBRL is a cutting-edge digital language for business reporting. The initials are an acronym for "extensible business reporting language." "The language XBRL is a family mark up language of XML," Foote said. "The language was developed in order to standardize the tagging of data." XBRL is an open specification that uses XML-based data tags to describe financial statements for both public and private companies. Among other things, the language will be used to prepare, publish, exchange and analyze financial data. "The major domestic auto manufacturers are forecasting that this technology will save them billions of dollars," Foote said.
Students participating in the competition had the opportunity to work with this new technology by developing conceptual models, creating applications using XBRL or by producing research to project how the language will be used in the future. The students participated in a grueling six-week competition, in which they were forced to juggle school responsibilities, work and personal relationships. "We worked every hour of every day," said Upumoni Laolagi, who was recognized with her teammates for working in the International Taxonomy category. A taxonomy is a classification system for business and financial reporting data elements. It is a complete representation of the concepts necessary to express the terms for a particular financial document or area.
Students from CSUF were recognized in both the International Taxonomy development using international accounting standards category and the United States Taxonomy development category. Since the language is new, the students said they had difficulty learning and understanding what they were supposed to do in order to compete at first. "We began by examining online references and pouring over 50 to 100-page manuals," said senior Eva Bi, a winner in the U.S. taxonomy category. "It was exciting because it wasn't like we were studying old stuff," said senior Ryan Smith. "It was harder, but rewarding. Also, finding a useable topic took a couple of weeks."
The winners in the Research Studies category had difficulty starting their project because their paper focused on China, a country where XBRL is in its infancy. "We had nothing to start with," said Albert Leung, a graduate student earning his Master of Science in accountancy.
Recognition in the competition had brought the students additional unforeseen accolades. "Next month, Charles Hoffman, the developer of the language, is using their work in his book and on his CD-ROM," Foote said. "All our students are going to be famous next month." CSUF's winning teams came out on top among an international field of about 30 colleges. "It was an affirmation that we have a good school system," said senior Erlinda Gutierrez. "Often, CSUF is seen as a lower or second-rate school, and it makes me proud that we came out as the winners," Bi said. "It's good to know we kicked their butt," Gutierrez said.