ERP program, ESSU look to recruit more students

gabriella patti

It is likely that students in the Seidman College of Business at Grand Valley State University are familiar with Enterprise Resource Planning program. However, this program is not as well known outside of the Pew Campus, despite its relevance to students across disciplines.

“The (Seidman) ERP Program at Grand Valley State University is one of the world’s leading programs where students gain an understanding of integrated, cross-functional business process experience using enterprise software SAP® to execute business processes, and to develop proficiency in the use of enterprise systems,” said Meagan Luttenton Knoll, professor in the Seidman College of Business.

Although this program is one of the top three in the nation to teach the SAP® software, Knoll said the program is not well known even though it is relevant to the learning and business trends of today.

“We are trying to get the word out to more people because it really is something that is big picture,” Knoll said. “It’s that design thinking. Everyone is in that trend of design thinking. ‘Where does everything go?’ ‘How does it fit together?’ Well, we’ve been teaching it.”

Knoll is also the faculty adviser for the Enterprise System Student Union, the student extension of the ERP program at GVSU. The goal is to provide students with a well-rounded business degree and specialized skill set.

“Our goal at ESSU is to be open to anyone and any major, not even just business school students,” Knoll said. “ERP systems are the fastest growing MIS systems that companies use, and so we want to be the connection between our program here at Grand Valley, our students and the companies who are out there who want to hire them.”

Companies that would normally recruit from University of Michigan or Michigan State are also coming to GVSU to recruit, Knoll said.

“(It’s) because of the unique program that has been built around the cross-functional approach to business processes using SAP/ERP,” Knoll said.

SAP® software is run by 25,000 companies in over 130 countries. Companies such as Chrysler, Ford, GM, Steelcase, Perrigo and Vera Bradley all use SAP® software, Knoll said.

Despite this wide reach, the program is currently working on re-branding to make it more accessible to all students.

“We don’t want this organization to be just people who use computers,” Knoll said. “We want to reach out and show that accounting majors will use this software, finance majors, chemistry, engineers do (and) healthcare industry. “

The ERP program is also looking ahead and seeking to provide more for future students.

To encourage future users of ERP systems, Knoll said GVSU is co-hosting The SAP Young Thinkers Program. It will offer hands-on workshops to help equip high school students with analytical and creative thinking skills.

“This experiential learning program aims to help youths understand the extraordinary revolution brought about by ERP systems today and its impact on societies, businesses and everyday life,” Knoll said.

Around 35 students from schools in Kent County will be attending. Knoll said students will spend the day with ESSU mentors and MIS faculty playing a ERP simulation game that focuses on marketing, pricing, purchasing and distributing bottles of water.

“The simulation is a great way to expose high school students to the SAP/ERP software in a fun environment,” Knoll said. “It is also a great experience to have ESSU Mentors work with the high school students to encourage them to choose the ERP Program and the MIS degree path as a future college goal.”

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