Celebrating 25 years of training students in cutting-edge software

University Alliance partnership provides unique learning opportunities

| Author: Jessica Meyers | Media Contact: Jessica Meyers

Just over 25 years ago, new software was developed that held tremendous potential to revolutionize the business world. Leaders at Central Michigan University took note, joining a select group of colleges and universities across the country dedicated to preparing their students to be hired by — and provide direct benefit to — the businesses adopting the new program.

This software, SAP, is now the world’s most widely used enterprise resource planning program, and CMU continues to be at the forefront of training students to work in the field.

Historic group photo of students in the SAP University Alliance Program"We were breaking ice into unknown disciplines," Frank Andera, founding director of CMU's SAP University Alliance Program, said of joining the alliance in 1997.

The SAP University Alliance program is a global initiative composed of more than 3,000 colleges and universities worldwide. Participation provides students with a unique skill set and access to the latest SAP software solutions to explore and understand business integration.

Answering industry demand

According to a report by Fortune Business Insights, enterprise resource planning software — otherwise known as ERP — has become a nearly $50 billion industry and is projected to nearly double in the next six years.

Innovative and forward thinking by CMU leadership and faculty has followed this growth and led to the university becoming one of the best in the country for training students in ERP.

“As faculty, we recognize the ever-changing needs of industry and strive to stay on the leading edge with regards to technologies for our students,” said Steve Tracy, director of the SAP University Alliance Program “We were abreast of what businesses were trying to achieve in their own operations.”

One of these opportunities is to ensure that every business student — regardless of their major — has SAP knowledge. As the software connects different functional areas of businesses to each other, it was a priority for CMU to integrate SAP education into the entire curriculum, ensuring a touchpoint for each student coming through the college.

Companies throughout the country — and around the world — have taken notice. Many, such as Dow, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Deloitte, GM, Ford, Accenture, Dominos, Caterpillar, John Deere, 3M, Harley Davidson, Johnson Controls, regularly recruit and hire CMU students directly.

Students huddled around equipment in SAP Next Gen Lab“Thanks to this program, I was able to secure both an internship and a full-time position in the SAP field, which has been a dream come true,” said Krishna Nair, Master of Business in Information Systems student and president of the SAP Student User Group. “As president, I had the honor of establishing a robust network with SAP-focused companies, leading to many of our students gaining invaluable real-world experience and even receiving interview invitations and job opportunities.”

The university also has partnered with Celonis, a leader in business process software, on capstone projects and process mining competitions. In addition, collaborations with Dow and SAP on a project using GreenToken technologies have advanced sustainability efforts. These partnerships provide students with unique opportunities to gain hands-on experience with innovative technologies.

In addition, CMU was designated by Celonis as a Center of Excellence for Process Mining. Process mining provides a skeleton of an organization and uses data to eliminate inefficiencies. CMU joins 15 universities worldwide with this designation including London School of Economics, University of St. Gallen Switzerland, and William & Mary.

Stepping outside the classroom

CMU’s SAP University Alliance Program offers students various opportunities to engage and learn outside of the classroom, preparing them even more to thrive in the ever-changing business world.

In 2013, CMU was the first university in the country to adopt ERPsim, a real-time business simulation that uses SAP software. An annual ERPsim Competition allows students to showcase their skills while being mentored by professionals in the industry.“ERPsim was another important dimension that we added to our stable,” Andera said.

For the past decade, students have enhanced their skills through ERPsim, which many times has led to internship or job offers.

Students huddled around computers at annual ERPsim Competition

CMU is also one of 12 universities nationwide designated as an SAP Next-Gen Chapter and Lab. This designation places CMU at the forefront of SAP's latest technology and innovation, and allows for collaborations with other universities, researchers, and experts in the field to create cutting-edge solutions that meet the needs of businesses and organizations. 

For many years, CMU also has offered the TS410 certification and workshop, which is highly sought after by employers, and it demonstrates a student’s proficiency in using SAP software. The training is available to CMU’s undergraduate and graduate students, as well as working professionals interested in boosting their knowledge.

Since 2000, nearly 1,700 people have attended CMU’s TS410 (formerly TERP10) Academy, which for many years was only available in person but is now available online.

Not stopping yet

As the field grows and changes, CMU continues to adapt.

The university is exploring areas of technology and business, including the internet of things, robotic process automation, data analytics, business processes, business integration, and sustainability. 

Vishal Shah, Associate Director of SAP University Next-Gen Program shared, “We are optimistic that the SAP University Alliance program will grow as we adapt and deliver education in an ever-changing technology landscape.”

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