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Just recently, students from Gymnasium Walldorf, a high school located near SAP headquarters, were invited once again to spend a day looking behind the scenes at the company as part of the SAP Young Thinkers initiative. As well as finding out about all the things that software can do, they discovered some surprising capabilities of hardware, such as 3D printers.

It’s impressive to see just how technology-savvy young people in the 12-13 age group are: They know what an app is and how a cloud works, and they are already learning IT basics in school. Many of the youngsters who came to SAP last week had always wanted to try their hand at being a programmer and to find out more about what happens at SAP.

This is where the Young Thinkers initiative comes in: As part of the global University Alliances organization, its members see it as their responsibility to teach young people about digital topics and help ready them for the digital world of tomorrow. This includes providing opportunities for children and young people to explore diverse aspects of the SAP environment, including programming, data science, business processes, entrepreneurship, and soft skills such as creativity, empathy, and teamwork.

Björn Goerke, CTO and President SAP Cloud Platform, was himself a pupil at Gymnasium Walldorf and is enthusiastic about the initiative: “It’s never too early to start programming. I’m excited to see that we’re opening up the world of technology to the engineers of tomorrow.”

 

The high-school students’ visit kicked off with a detailed tutorial designed to introduce them to Snap!, a blocks-based programming language that allows you to arrange individual commands in the correct order to control engines, illuminate a light-bulb, and so on.

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Gerald Kiefer, who is the principal at Gymnasium Walldorf, is extremely interested in his school’s cooperation with SAP and attended the event in person. He stressed how important it was for children and young people to begin engaging with computer science while they were still at school: “Today’s information and communications technologies are having a very profound and lasting impact on all our lives. In my view, proficiency in the use of digital media and information processing technology is not just an essential life skill, it is also central to a broad general education – because new technologies are crucial drivers of social engagement.” That is why pupils aged 12-13 are already working with programs like Snap! And they love it.

 

Stopping off at the SAP Inspiration Pavilion, the young visitors took an interactive journey through the history of innovation at SAP. Many of them were amazed to see how fast the digital transformation is happening and to discover how big data and the latest analytics tools can help them track the strike rates of their favorite soccer stars.

An opportunity to experiment with mBot robots was also a hit with the youngsters. Armed with a tablet, they developed their own programs that sent the robots scooting back and forth around the room.

Daniel Wunderlich, a teacher in Walldorf, stressed the importance of having a basic grounding in computer science: “IT systems are playing a growing role in many spheres of human interaction. To be responsible and mature members of society, it is absolutely essential that we all engage and come to grips with computer science.”

 

During their visit to the SAP d-shop, the pupils discovered how 3D printers work and the amazing things they can do. From printed vases to a real pair of shoes, there were lots of unique objects for the youngsters to examine. They even learned that it’s possible to print out human organs. One young man, unable to suppress a “Wow!”, added, “I had no idea you could use a 3D printer to save lives!” There were plenty of comments to amuse the young visitors from a non-human source too (Alexa).

Anka Wittenberg, who is responsible for Diversity & Inclusion for and at SAP, met the group for a joint photo in front of building WDF21. She stressed the importance of the Young Thinkers initiative in positioning SAP as a top employer for young talents, adding, “I would like to thank the Young Thinkers community – and particularly the Young Thinkers ambassadors – for the tremendous contribution they are making to diversity and inclusion through their commitment, their energy, and their “young thinkers’ spirit. They are role models for the next generation.”

Over lunch in building WDF05, the youngsters reflected on an exciting morning. Jan Kübler commented: “I’d like to study information technology. And maybe even work for you!”

Thomas Saueressig, CIO of SAP says: “I am very proud to be able to support this initiative. By sharing some of the exciting elements of IT with children and young people, we can spark their interest in an area that they might otherwise overlook.”

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