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Students Begin Using SAP Enterprise Resource Planning Software

SAP, which stands for Systems, Applications, and Products, is an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system that companies use to run manufacturing, logistics, accounting, and all other aspects of business, explains Marianne Bradford, associate professor of accounting in the NC State College of Management.

"It is the most widely used software of its kind in the world. Most Fortune 500 companies use it, and scaled-down versions of the package are available to smaller companies. Many of the North Carolina Research Triangle Park (RTP)-based businesses use this software," she said.

The University Alliance Program will allow faculty at NC State University to use the software in their classroom teaching, providing students hands-on experience with a live SAP system. The program will also give the faculty members access to SAP training and curriculum already developed by other SAP alliance schools in the nation.

Freudenberg IT LP, a long time user of the software, has contributed a gift to the NC State College of Management to cover the university's participation in the alliance program. The company is located on Davis Drive in RTP and has offices around the world.

Participation in the alliance "will give our students a competitive advantage in the real world, allowing them to hit the ground running at companies that use enterprise SAP," Bradford says. She serves as the university's faculty campus coordinator for the alliance.

"We consider support of NC State's participation in the SAP University Alliance Program to be an investment in the future workforce." it was right in line with the Guiding Principles of the entire Freudenberg Group of companies that we have been strongly committed to for over 160 years," said Michael Heuberger, chief executive officer of Freudenberg IT.

"Freudenberg IT has been using SAP for over 30 years – we were its seventh customer – and feel it is important for today's students in business, information technology and other disciplines to have hands-on experience with tools that are an integral part of the global marketplace."

Freudenberg has been utilizing, consulting and hosting SAP systems since the 1970s. In 2006, the company expanded its hosting practice by building new data centers in China and RTP. Given the economic climate, the company has been a "bright spot" for the local economy as it continues to hire and grow in the RTP area. A third data center will open early this fall.

Eric Patow, senior vice president of sales and business development for North America, met Bradford at the 2008 meeting of the Americas' SAP Users Group (ASUG), which includes over 75,000 SAP users from businesses and universities. Patow is also the program chairman for the North Carolina/South Carolina ASUG chapter.

"During the 2007 meeting, held on the NC State campus, I walked over to the College of Management to talk with Pam Bostic, director of the MBA program, and suggested that she let students know of the ASUG meeting. I thought it would be a good opportunity for students to meet some people in the industry and get a few leads on jobs," Patow said. He had earned his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the NC State College of Engineering in 1990 and his Master of Science in Management, the precursor to the College of Management's MBA program, in 1998.

Bradford and several of her students accepted his invitation for the next meeting, and she has continued to stay involved with ASUG. At its June 2009 annual meeting, she expressed interest in the University Alliance Program, and Patow introduced her to Heuberger, who agreed to help support the college's involvement in the program.

Students in Bradford's ERP classes in the college's Jenkins MBA program and undergraduate programs will be the first to use the new program in the college. "Our vision is to eventually teach SAP across the college's curriculum," Bradford said.

Don Warsing, associate professor of supply chain and operations in the college's Department of Business Management, said that he will incorporate certain modules of the software in his Planning and Control Systems class for Jenkins MBA students next spring.

Bradford said the software is being hosted at one of two national Alliance hosting facilities. NC State faculty interested in learning more about the alliance or using the software may contact Bradford.