Wednesday, October 15, 2008JOHNSON CITY—Students in Computer and Information Sciences at East Tennessee State University can now experience what it is like to create a new brand of breakfast cereal and to put it on the market — but their enterprise may be subject to a takeover by other students.
Students can run their own factories using the same SAP software systems used by companies worldwide. In addition to developing experience with computer-assisted decision making in business, students also gain valuable experience working with SAP software — a skill in great demand in the marketplace.
Based in Germany, SAP, the world’s third largest independent software provider with 51,447 employees in some 50 countries, pioneered the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software market to integrate all major business processes into one software system, thus making corporate data available interactively and in real time.
SAP estimates that as many as 40,000 SAP-knowledgeable graduates are needed to meet global demand over the coming two years. Worldwide, 75,000 companies have purchased and maintain SAP software, resulting in 12 million users in some 120 countries. To help support this growing need for SAP-educated graduates, the company offers the SAP University Alliances program to selected universities around the world.
Member universities, now including ETSU, gain access to the suite of SAP software solutions as well as curriculum development resources.
The 150 universities selected in the United States are chosen to participate in the program by submitting for consideration a detailed plan outlining the way SAP resources will be incorporated into the curriculum. SAP noted that the ETSU plan was exceptional for its innovation and clearly articulated plans for incorporating SAP software into multiple courses for undergraduates and graduate students in the Department of Computer and Information Sciences.
ETSU’s initial participation in the program is supported by Eastman Chemical Co., one of the first major U.S. users of SAP software. Executives with the company have worked with ETSU faculty in developing the course curriculum to ensure real-world content is delivered.
“We are very pleased to participate in this program with ETSU,” said Keith Sturgill, Eastman CIO. “Because the Department of Computer and Information Sciences will be graduating students with basic business acumen and SAP exposure, I believe this program will greatly benefit ETSU, its students, and the regional companies that recruit from ETSU.”
The SAP systems that ETSU students use are hosted at a remote SAP University Competence Center in Wisconsin. This allows many universities to share the same equipment rather than requiring each to provide individual SAP computer infrastructure.
For its inaugural classroom venture, ETSU is using SAP software (with an estimated value of $182,000 or $8,000 per student in the class) for the first time this fall in “Fundamentals of Business IT.” One course activity involves participation in “ERPsim,” an innovative SAP-based business simulation developed and shared by faculty at another member campus. Students work in teams using an SAP ERP system to manage a fictitious cereal company by developing new products, planning production, purchasing materials, marketing the product, and addressing a variety of other business facets. The competition among teams becomes fierce as students use their newly acquired business skills to succeed. This simulation provides students with critical knowledge — an understanding of the business process and the technology that enables that process.
Students who complete three SAP conte