Thanks to the work of ASUG colleague Richard Gillespie, I was able to attend an SAP users group meeting in Baltimore City in October 2015.  The site was Morgan State University (morgan.edu), an historically black college, part of the State of Maryland education system.  Nearby is the site of the Montebello Hospital, shrunk to the rehab center known as the Workforce and Technology Center (my Dad volunteered there).  I had not been on the Morgan campus since a visit with some Boy Scouts working on Communications merit badge at the university hosted public radio station, WEAA.

Baltimore’s ERP scene is probably the lesser of the somewhat twin metropolitan areas with Washington D.C.; as the latter is a national capital the normal sister city rules don’t apply in many senses. Despite the odds, Morgan is a member of the University Alliances, presenting classes on enterprise systems and business processes (the “Data Analytics for the Enterprise – SAP Centric” is one I should audit). With industry connections, I want to promote the curriculum and students, aligning with existing and future intern programs.

On the first trip, I spoke with Dr. Gregory Ramsey about mutual interests – professors want to help their student place with business, and business people want the best prepared candidate.  While my specific interview roles on the hiring side (or recommending) have been few, I have also interviewed scads of ASUG volunteer want-to-bes, not to mention vendor and consultant vetting over a long period, and my baselines such as effective communications and organized thinking are elementary I think.  I promised to come back to the campus to chat with students, and to set up tours of my employers facilities (where we have engineering design centers as well as some pretty cool product testing, last time I checked).

Between my visits I checked in with Simha R. Magal [ Simha Magal ] [ Business Process Integration with SAP ERP ]  to better understand the latest trends and practices in the field.  We talked about regular meet-ups, preferably where local business people can attend, such as late afternoon or early evening. Like ASUG member companies, universities should have Champions, key people to collect, disseminate, and analyze materials that feed into curriculum or business planning.

Dr. Sanjay Bapna, head of the Information Systems department at the Earl Graves School of Business and Management, was kind enough to invite me for further talks this March. We talked a wide range, from code repositories, to business process simulation tools, to LinkedIn, to social media/apps, to what the world would be like in 20 years. We talked about the same gap between business and “MIS” that Marilyn Pratt hosted called “the geek gap” in a long-time-ago 2006 maybe community session at TechEd or somewhere (Bill Pfleging and Minda Zetlin).

Baltimore City, where Morgan (dating to 1867) has its campus, has struggled since I was a kid (growing up in the 1960s).  The area near the campus has perhaps had some population declines since WWII with the larger impact on  commercial establishments over housing.  Shopping centers grow, decline, and fall, sometimes more quickly.  The area just west of the campus formerly occupied the entire block, having a local department store as anchor, and full occupancy.  The chain folded, with the larger property morphing into a general clothing store, a home improvement chain in the interim, then folding entirely.  Recent controversies about the permitted uses of the remaining commercial store fronts between Hillen Road and Loch Raven Boulevard are unsettled, and unsettling [alas, one of my local network contacts has protected her tweets, but I probably could not have quoted that directly on SCN anyway, so read the paragraph about Morgan housing in this local site /_/.

Next steps will be to arrange a facility tour, review the university alliance and campus supplied flyers, set up regular meetings, and maybe join a hack-a-thon.  Or who knows.

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New campus buildings for the School of Business and Management

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