The business-education connection
It's been reported for far too long that our students are lacking in math and science skills. As a result, businesses across Colorado and throughout the nation are in dire need of professionals who have the knowledge necessary to support a growing company's modern technology needs. While it can be fairly said that technology-oriented degrees are more difficult to obtain, fewer students are pursuing this path, and businesses are suffering.
It's with this need in mind that private companies and interests are taking it upon themselves to fill the void. Some are creating partnerships with local universities to expose qualified students to the opportunities that exist if they decide to pursue a degree in technology, and also provide them with early employment options.
One local example involves a lack of technology professionals that many Colorado companies depend on to maintain their business software platform - SAP -- that is critical to their logistics, accounting, invoicing, human resources, reporting and overall business operations. My company, NIMBL, a Denver-based and industry-recognized SAP professional services firm, was very familiar with this growing need, and we began working diligently towards a solution.
We quickly identified Metropolitan State College of Denver's Department of Computer Information Systems (Metro CIS) and approached Prof. Biswadip Ghosh with the idea to form a service/program with Metro's SAP University Alliance initiative. The unique alliance would assist Metro State's CIS department in teaching the fundamentals of SAP by leveraging SAP-specific content for their courses with easy-to-use, high-quality, downloadable course materials which has been developed by SAP University Alliance program. It would also be the first step towards providing an important and much needed solution to local Colorado companies struggling to find the necessary SAP support to keep their business operations running smoothly.
Many companies are already showing strong support for the alliance. They have offered internships (including NIMBL) and are ready to begin hiring graduates of Metro's CIS for their own SAP support needs. The alliance is not only assisting Metro and supporting local business, but it is also clearing a career path for students.
"We recognized the potential and competitive advantage this partnership could offer our students," says Ann Murphy, Metro State Dean and professor of the School of Business. "This level of instruction is most often found at the graduate level, so we feel fortunate to bring this relevant and enriching teaching to our students at the undergraduate level."
As a member of the SAP University Alliance, Metro State students and professors have access to SAP's software license, offering students in-depth, hands-on experience with SAP software. Metro State first integrated SAP course work into their classroom through CIS's Introduction to Information Technology class in the summer of 2010. Now SAP applications are being developed for classes in Enterprise Resource Planning with potential for expansion into management and accounting programs.
"Our business students get a better and more integrated view of how all the various business functions and processes work together," says Biswadip Ghosh, assistant professor of computer information systems. "Since SAP software uses common data it really illustrates the connections between sales, production and accounting."
The partnership exemplifies how Metro State is working with the private business sector to identify where there are needs within the business world and provide opportunities for students to plan for and achieve a career path. Through advanced curricula, technologies and academic research, the SAP University Alliances program (UAP) supports institutions of higher learning's efforts to offer custom-tailored courses and projects which develop highly qualified graduates with critical skills for the 21st century workforce.
The partnership between Metro CIS and the SAP University Alliance is an important example of how private business can proactively support universities in filling classroom rosters that are critical to their needs.