Industry Partnership: SAP University Alliances

USC and Professor Nitin Kale are featured in SAP Mentor's Quarterly (see page 7)

The University of Southern California (USC) joined the SAP University Alliances program in January 1997 and offered its first class incorporating SAP R/3 (now SAP ERP) that same month. Since then, USC has expanded its SAP program to nine courses, offers the Student Certification Academy (TERP10), and is about to launch a Minor Degree program in Enterprise Wide Information Systems.

The University of Southern California's main campus, located just south of downtown Los Angeles, is a world renowned private research institution with over 35,000 students enrolled in its College of Letters and Arts or one of 17 professional schools. Of those students, in 2009-2010, 17,000 were undergraduate students and 18,000 were graduate students. USC has the distinction of not only being the oldest private research university in the West, but today, it also enrolls more international students than any other U.S. university.

Back in 1995, it was the Information Technology Program (ITP) of the Viterbi School of Engineering which made the decision to join the SAP University Alliances program. With support of SAP, ITP implemented their first system over the winter break of that year and began offering their first "ERP" class: Enterprise Wide Information Systems. Students from the Marshall School of Business, hearing of SAP's leadership role in the ERP market, quickly filled the class. In these early years all SAP University Alliances member schools were self hosted so that first semester proved to be quite a challenge for Prof. Richard Vawter and the department's technical lead, Dana Studer. Students eagerly wanted more projects from Prof. Vawter to work on the "small" system while Dana simultaneously tried to manage the strain put on the system by the inquisitive students. Yet, after all the turmoil, the students were quite pleased with the first offering and news quickly spread.

Over the next few years, several more servers were added to support new SAP related classes. The classes included ABAP Programming, Configuring of ERP Systems, and, perhaps one of the most popular classes, ERP Design and Implementation. During the early years of system implementation and management, the ITP department shared its learning curve in system administration with their students. Each semester, one or two classes were offered in which students formed small project teams and implemented a complete ERP solution for a case company.

It was in 2004 when the Industrial Systems in Engineering (ISE) students began to outnumber the Marshall School of Business students. It was at this time that Prof. Nitin Kale also joined the "SAP" program by bringing with him his expertise in Database Management and offering a course in Business Intelligence.

Since 2004, the ITP department has been able to offer more classes, more quickly, primarily due to the support of SAP University Alliances and its members. Collaborating together, ideas and concepts have been able to be incorporated into course material, eliminating some of the uncertainty and unanticipated outcomes that result when offering a new class. Also, the summer workshops offered to the faculty, by faculty, have proved to be invaluable.

For the students, the University Alliances Community has become a central place to go for information about what is happening in the world of SAP. In addition to meeting other students from other universities with similar interests, the students have been able to post their resumes online. Many of our students have said "…it's only because I took the SAP classes at USC, I got my job!" While that may really not be the case, the students who have gone through the program have been hired by many SAP customers/partners such as Capgemini, Deloitte & Touche, KPMG, Accenture, Hitachi, Protiviti, Chevron, Disney, DirectTV, Sony, and yes, even SAP!

Today, over 300 students per year go through the ITP department's SAP program [LINK TO: ENTERPRISE INFO SYSTEMS] at USC's Viterbi School of Engineering. At USC, there is enormous emphasis being placed upon interdisciplinary collaboration. To support this endeavor, the ITP department plans to offer a new course in Health Information Systems to strengthen the relationship between the Viterbi School of Engineering and the Keck School of Medicine. Additionally, it is anticipated that USC will begin to offer a Minor Degree program in Enterprise Wide Information Systems in Fall 2011.

View the SAP Univeristy Alliance members directory by country to see USC and a complete list of other Alliance members.

Published on May 23rd, 2017

Last updated on August 20th, 2021