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SAP’s new Utility of Tomorrow Contest takes next step toward the future of universities

Exhilarating! I just came out of the opening keynote session at the 9th International SAP Conference For Utilities:

This was extraordinary because I was one of 25 university students who had the privilege to attend, and we were the only people wearing T – shirts among all the business-clad-formal attendees.

The real highlight came when Dr. Stefan Engelhardt presented the “Utility Of Tomorrow” Contest

(See the full press-release:

which opens the chance for university students worldwide to cast their creative minds with utilities companies to confront and compete in innovating the utility solutions of tomorrow! (

This means that Utilities companies like Dong, San Diego Gas & Electric, and Israel Electric are opening collaborative opportunities with students from Universities worldwide.  We can register and make submissions in this contest, and winning students will get to present their co-created solutions at TechEd in Las Vegas this October!  The best team will get to flesh out the full measure of their design with SAP’s technical muscle in Palo Alto, CA.  And the right solutions can possibly be implemented in the Utility Industry.

I want to highlight the scope and magnitude of the challenges and opportunities around which this contest emerges by borrowing a few words from the keynote speakers this morning:

To address the very real winds of change that face governments (dealing with urbanization for example), Dr. Chakib Bouhdary declared “we need to find ways to think differently”, and pointed to us “people in T-shirts” when he said we can use the young students who know how to work with the technologies that can deliver.

“Urbanization is driving massive change.  A whole new level of service is necessary” to be able deal with those changes, not just in small cases, but issues with volume.  One of these changes include the middle class of the world growing, even doubling in just a matter of years.

Cleaner, smarter, and more efficient cities are what Dr. Chakib Bouhdary said governments are telling him they need to achieve.  This implies domains like smarter transportation achieved by a drive to focus on user experience.


Now this all relates to me, the student, because with this contest, ( and more like it I hope ) the massive intensity of creativity, knowledge, skills, and energy I see among my fellow university students are being recognized and tapped to address these very needs.

Further, what this means for me, the student, is that 1.) My learning is enhanced by 2.) Applying my knowledge in collaboration on real challenges with Utility leaders like Dong 3.) and getting to compete win the chance to present my student teams submission at TechEd in Las Vegas in October 2013, and 4.) implement the innovation with SAP in Palo Alto 5.) and broadcast both the actual improvement and what I call the ‘new way universities and organizations should work’ with other utilities, universities, and students like me.

This is exactly what I’m looking for to make my place in the working world which I am studying to be able to contribute to and influence in the best ways.  Not to mention, that this sort of contest gives me a chance to reach out and make real my contribution in the ‘value chain’, which I am building and preparing for each day with my peers at University. 

Oh, and in case you were wondering, universities like the IT University of Copenhagen incorporate this kind of collaboration into the curriculum of course projects that credit the student learning objectives!


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