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NDSU Students to Gain Hands-on Experience with SAP Business Enterprise Software

Posted: Oct 24, 2016

North Dakota State University will give students hands-on experience with leading business enterprise software under provisions of its membership in the SAP University Alliances. Membership in the Alliances will give faculty and students access to the software and will allow faculty to integrate SAP software into their courses.

SAP is a leading suite of business software applications and is the most prevalent provider of business enterprise software in the United States. Its products are used by more than 80% of Fortune 1000 companies, including Bobcat, John Deere, Apple, Cargill, Target, ConAgra Foods, Monsanto, and 3M.

"Our membership in the SAP University Alliances and the integration of SAP software into our classes will position our students for success in the workplace," noted Denver Tolliver, director of the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute at NDSU and which administers the university's Transportation and Logistics graduate education program. The Institute provided funding for NDSU to join the Alliances program.

"The Alliances program gives us access to training systems and materials that will really enhance our instruction in this area," Tolliver notes. "Large corporations, the military and other organizations use SAP software as a powerful tool for integrating their various functions, for planning and for alignment."

Fred Riggins, NDSU associate professor of management information systems, says the College of Business at NDSU has long been a member of the Microsoft Dynamics Academic Alliance, another large provider of business enterprise software. "We're not shifting from one to the other, but will be involved in both. Introducing students to both the Microsoft and SAP suites will increase their marketability once they graduate," Riggins says.

He noted that, given SAP's dominance in the corporate world, some major employers had stopped recruiting at NDSU. "We're in discussions with several of those right now to make them aware of what we're doing and several of them have expressed an interest in beginning to recruit here again."

Riggins and other faculty in NDSU's Management Information Systems program will provide introductory activities related to SAP products. In addition, Riggins and Limin Zhang, NDSU associate professor of management information systems, also plan to integrate SAP into NDSU's MBA and Master of Accountancy programs.

At the undergraduate level, one of the first courses to integrate SAP into its curriculum is Management Information Systems 350 – Enterprise Systems – which provides an introduction to the theoretical and practical issues related to the application of enterprise systems within organizations.

Fone Pengnate, NDSU assistant professor of management information systems who also teaches system analysis and design, will be incorporating SAP into the curriculum in his classes as well.

For graduate students, one of the first courses to integrate SAP's software suite is a newly revised course offered this fall, Transportation and Logistics 715 – Introduction to Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). The course will introduce students to enterprise systems management through peer reviewed articles, interactive discussions based on readings, and hands-on exercises using SAP database systems available in partnership with the SAP University Alliances. The course will include 30 hours of hands-on SAP exercises using a web-based graphical user interface.

Elements of SAP will also be integrated into Transportation and Logistics 725 – Technology Advances and Logistics– to be offered in the spring 2017 semester. This course addresses new technologies that help shape advanced logistics and the advantages that those technologies bring to end users, suppliers and a broad spectrum of related industries.

A third course, integrating SAP and transportation and logistics analytics, is under development. The three courses will be part of the core requirements for the Masters of Managerial Logistics, an online degree program that targets logisticians, industry professionals, military officers and others who want to meet the challenges of modern logistic systems.

Both Transportation and Logistics 715 and 725 will be taught by Tolliver with assistance from Rob Swearingen, a transportation and logistics Ph.D. student who gained extensive experience with SAP and other enterprise resource management systems before retiring from the military. He helped spearhead the effort at NDSU to join the SAP University Alliances.

Although Swearingen was recently hired at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, WA, to teach enterprise resource planning, he will continue to assist at NDSU via distance education technology.

NDSU Dept 2880P.O. Box 6050Fargo, ND 58108-6050