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Author's profile photo Heather Matthews

ERPsim @ High Schools: Student Competition at Grand Valley State University

Last month SAP, General Motors (GM) and Grand Valley State University (GVSU) hosted the first 2015 Young Thinkers event in North America – an ERPsim competition for four Grand Rapids area high schools.  Our goal was to get kids excited about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) topics and introduce them to the STEM-related opportunities at university and their future careers.  It was an overwhelming success and we have validated a model we can follow going forward!


Many at GVSU came together to provide an amazing experience for students and teachers.  Simha Magal – Professor of Management, orchestrated the entire event.  Meagan Luttenton Knoll – Affiliate Instructor, provided the instruction to students and did an amazing job helping kids understand business process and SAP.  Tom McGinnis – Assistant Professor of Management, prepared the student mentors from the Enterprise Systems Student Union (ESSU) for their coaching role.  ESSU provided nearly a dozen students to support everything from registration to team mentoring to documenting every aspect of the event so others can repeat it.  Chris Gillespie – SAP systems administrator, made sure all systems were ready to go.  Diana Lawson – Dean, was incredibly supportive as well!

GM was committed to the event from the beginning and worked hard to make the ERPsim day a success.  Jim Hamilton – Global SAP Program Director, General Motors Information Technology, Global SAP Architecture & Services helped us to recruit high schools for the event. Ronald Franz – Executive Director, General Motors Information Technology, Global SAP Architecture & Services put his support behind the event as well.  The automotive industry is the largest employer in Michigan, and the students appreciated the fact that both of these executives cleared their calendar and made the three hour drive from Detroit to engage with these kids! 

We hosted 32 students and 11 teachers from four high schools at GVSU.  Eight teams played the game, with each supported by a university student mentor.  Mentors provided student teams with more visibility to business process and helped teams to craft their strategy.  In round one sales / purchasing activity was pretty basic as you would expect.  But it was amazing to watch how quickly teams found their groove and really began to think and execute strategically in the second and third rounds of the game.  At the end of the game each team was asked to share their insights and approach – kids really grasped the concepts!  GM additionally discussed careers in STEM and GVSU introduced their STEM-focused university programs.

The feedback we’ve received since the event has been overwhelmingly positive.  GM and SAP customer Johnson Controls, Inc. have identified additional school districts in Michigan that they will engage with via ERPsim, partnering with University Alliances to provide STEM awareness across the state.  Schools in Grand Rapids want to do more.  The GVSU team is very motivated to repeat the event too.


On the Young Thinkers side, we had additional goals: 1) validate that ERPim distribution game could be played successfully by high school kids and 2) validate the model of a university “buddy” delivering the content to a partner high school.  Both of these proved to be true.  To keep the concepts simple for a one day event we simplified the lectures and process steps a little and allocated more time for discussion / reflection, but nothing within the game itself was altered.  Playing the game in an event format worked nicely, what we did will work at a university or high school and is easily repeatable.

Our last goal was to create a content package including a how-to manual for delivering the standard HEC Montreal-provided content to this audience.  Content is under development now.  ESSU students documented timing, examples, key discussion points and so on.  Now the GVSU team is putting the package together. 

The advantage of this model and this learning package is that our educators can hit the ground running – building on the amazing game and resources developed by the ERPsim Lab @ HEC Montreal.

If you’d like to learn more about this event, check out the social media activity:

  • Tweets before, during & after event from handles such as:  @H_CzechMatthews, @ERPprof, @GVSUESSU, @SAP_UA, @Mlaugh16; with hashtags like:  #SAP_UA, #ESSU, #GVSU, @ERPsimatgvsu, #ERP
  • Pictures were posted on Facebook and Instagram
  • Megan Laughlin, an ESSU / GVSU student mentor blogged on SCN

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      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      kudos what a great way to get kids excited about the real world. Start it off with a game. 😘

      Author's profile photo Meagan Knoll
      Meagan Knoll

      A great opportunity for our local high school students.  Thank you for inviting me to participate.