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SAP University Alliance program, awards help students in Information System courses get hired


The Dow Chemical Company has announced its Dow Chemical SAP Award of Excellence scholarship winners, including two Central Michigan University seniors and one graduate student.

The recipients were all students enrolled in the Information Systems undergraduate and master's degree programs.

Dow Chemical gives out the academic excellence awards to students who have garnered high marks during their fall and spring semester course work. This semester, the awards were given to Hubbard Lake senior Kathryn Bates, Petoskey senior William Rigling and graduate student Srikanth Seelam from Kurnool, India.

CMU's 17 year partnership with the SAP University Alliance program has helped to award students with nearly $48,000 since 1998.

"Its really been very positive, because a lot of companies come from this area in the midwest," said Frank Andera, director of the SAP University Alliance program. "Its special that our students have an opportunity to join companies from a number of states away because the companies are coming to us to recruit."

Each of the students were given $750 for outstanding academic achievement in business information systems courses supported by SAP. The SAP University Alliance program is made up of over 2,000 universities and colleges worldwide to connect students interested in careers and research opportunities after graduation.

"If the students get a chance to run the software they are better off," Andera said. "If they have done exercises with this software, they can hit the ground running with any company that uses this software, so we never looked back."

Known as Systems, Applications and Products in Data processing, SAP is a the world's largest enterprise software company and third-largest provider of software and applications to businesses across 26 industries.

 Since its foundation, over 8,200 students have participated in business courses supported by SAP.

While CMU is not traditionally a first-tier school compared to more well-known universities around the country, Andera said companies like General Motors come to Mount Pleasant specifically to recruit because of the competency of the students in SAP. He said 18 CMU students were offered jobs with GM this year, 16 of whom accepted.

In 1999, Dow Chemical donated $150,000 to establish the Dow/SAP Learning Lab, a 48-station computer facility located in Grawn Hall, to help support CMU’s SAP program. SAP also donated system software valued at $1.1 million and more than fifteen faculty members have received SAP training to teach the program.

Whereas most university alliance programs offer a maximum of two or three SAP classes to their students, CMU offers a total of 16.

Six CMU students receive the Dow/SAP Award of Excellence each year, with three students earning an award each semester.

Students eligible for the award must be an undergraduate majoring in management information systems or a Master of Science in Information Systems graduate student. The student must be enrolled in SAP course work with a minimum of one semester remaining before graduation. The scholarship is requirements are based on a student’s performance in SAP course-related activities and/or their performance in the SAP Academy.

"We're trying to teach business functionality," Andera said. "You need to understand how the parts of business interrelate. "You have to help the company solve their problems in all these different areas. I think that we feel really good about what we have achieved on behalf of our students."