Preparing students for careers using industry-preferred SAP software systems literally is Central Michigan University's business.
SAP — which stands for Systems, Applications and Products in data processing — is the world's largest provider of enterprise application software.
Through its College of Business Administration, CMU is a 20-year member of the
SAP University Alliance Program and is a worldwide leader, specifically through its SAP TERP10 certification academies. SAP and its related software, such as Enterprise Resource Planning, help companies manage their business processes and make data-driven decisions.
CMU is No. 1 in offering TERP10 academies — more than the next three ranked schools combined. The SAP TERP10 certification academy is the "golden trophy" of the university's SAP University Alliance Program, said Frank Andera, CMU business information systems professor and SAP University Alliance Program director.
According to Andera, SAP expects a 50 percent failure rate for TERP10 certification, but more than 90 percent of CMU's 125 students passed the certification exam in May 2016. To date, 1,280 students have become certified at CMU.
Andera said research indicates students with a TERP10 certification average $10,000 more in starting salary offers than students who don't have the certification.
"The two biggest rewards for SAP training and TERP10 certification are seeing the success of our students and seeing the companies who come here to recruit and benefit from our students," he said.
Alix Price is seeing the return on her investment in the two-week certification program, available for CMU undergraduate and graduate students.
Price, a senior information systems major from Beaverton, Michigan, said the certification strengthened her qualifications and led to a job offer as a business analyst at
The Dow Chemical Co. following graduation this Saturday.
"It was very intense, and during the two weeks I didn't know if I was ever going to survive it," Price said as she motioned to the 850-page course book. "SAP is my life now, and it comes naturally to me."
Robert Bullock III is a senior business information systems major from Capac, Michigan, who knew TERP10 certification would help boost his career by exposing him to a wider variety of SAP transactions. He will share his SAP knowledge as a state of Michigan employee following graduation, and he said getting the certification was one of the best decisions he made in college.
"It helped my résumé get recognized and allowed me to have more confidence talking about SAP in the interview," Bullock said. "I already have an understanding of the SAP and ERP processes going into my job."
University quick to get on board
CMU was one of the first five SAP University Alliance Programs to sign a partnership agreement with SAP AG in 1997. Since then, the alliance has become a global program with more than 3,100 member universities/institutions in more than 106 countries. The program exposes students and faculty to the latest SAP technologies to enable universities and other schools to integrate SAP software into their teaching.
Steve Tracy, business information systems faculty member and alliance associate director, compares the function of SAP to planning Thanksgiving dinner: setting the time, place, invitees, who's bringing what foods. Similarly, there are many functions happening within a business every day. SAP helps to seamlessly manage all of them, everything from human resources to logistics, accounting, manufacturing and production.
"I don't want my students to memorize the facts, but if we engage them to understand the process, that makes it really easy," Tracy said. "I'm not a trainer, I am an educator, and what we are providing at Central Michigan University is an educated workforce."
The alliance program created a curriculum that emphasizes business integration and business functionality throughout all business-related programs. Each semester, CMU's SAP alliance program includes more than 20 classes supported by SAP software. More than 1,500 students registered for an SAP-supported class this academic year.