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ETSU hosts inaugural SAP Advisory Group meeting

Thursday, October 30, 2008JOHNSON CITY— On Oct. 24, the East Tennessee State University Department of Computer and Information Sciences hosted the inaugural SAP Advisory Group meeting, with representatives from Eastman Chemical Co., EDS, CGI-AMS, General Shale Brick, Gilbarco, Graceway Pharmaceuticals, IBM, King Pharmaceuticals, Northrop Grumman, Nuclear Fuel Services, Oak Ridge National Labs, and Y-12 National Security Complex participating.

The meeting was held to discuss the technology and employment needs of regional companies and to review ETSU’s new SAP Initiative. Dr. Gail Corbitt, the SAP University Alliances director for the United States, spoke about the benefits and opportunities ETSU’s University Alliances membership provides. Dr. Tony Pittarese, an assistant professor and the ETSU SAP Coordinator, briefed the group on the department’s plans to offer new courses on Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), which will feature SAP content.

SAP is the world’s leading provider of Enterprise Resource Planning and related applications, offering software solutions and services that enable companies of all sizes and in more than 25 industries to become best-run businesses. With more than 51,400 employees in some 50 countries, SAP pioneered the ERP software market to integrate all major business processes into a unified software system and thus make corporate data available interactively and in real time.

SAP estimates global demand for certified SAP professionals at approximately 40,000 in the next two years alone. 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, which now include ETSU, gain access to the suite of SAP software solutions and 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. Corbitt 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 plan is the finest one I have seen during my time in this position,” said Corbitt. “It is ambitious but reasonable in its goals. We anticipate great things from our partnership with ETSU.” In a recent company report, SAP rated ETSU as one of three “up and coming” programs in the United States.

In the spring, a new ETSU course, “Enterprise Systems,” will allow students to work with the SAP NetWeaver® technology platform — a core component in the SAP development architecture.

Additional courses—which are anticipated to be phased in over the next three years — will allow students to use SAP ERP, SAP NetWeaver®, and other related software systems. Nationally, there is high demand for developers with these skills, and companies present at the meeting indicated this was true in their regional operations as well.

ETSU’s initial participation in the program is supported by Eastman Chemical Co., one of the first major U.S. users of SAP software. Company executives 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.”

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