Stephen L. Tracy is the director of the SAP University Alliance Program at Central Michigan University and a faculty member of the Business Information Systems Department. He has more than 20 years of industry and teaching experience and has been using ERPsim for more than ten years. During these years, he was certified at both first and second levels, which allows him to teach other faculty members. In addition to his ERPsim membership, he has also been organizing yearly massive ERPsim events at CMU.
Using ERPsim in class
Central Michigan University has been using ERPsim since 2008, and Stephen Tracy has been teaching integrated business experience classes for undergraduate and graduate programs. He has also been using ERPsim in a graduate program for an introduction to SAP class.
According to him, ERPsim has been an effective tool as it gives his students a hands-on experience in a live environment, where they can see why all the classes they are taught before matter. It brings together the theory the professors are trying to teach, and the exercises they are trying to do. It also adds a live-integrated component where the professor can talk about and demonstrate concepts to the students and enable them to play and experience them in the simulation.
The main challenge he found was to motivate participants to be engaged in the first place, as learning an enterprise resource system is not always something they are interested in. Nonetheless, once he gets them on board, the competition is enough to keep them motivated.
Stephen Tracy has been teaching online, in the classroom, and organizing events online and offline. From his experience using ERPsim online, he advises other faculty to plan these kinds of classes much more in detail. He recommends using the first day to make students understand how the course will be structured and what platforms will be used. How to login into the SAP system and do the basic transactions before even talking about the game as they will need to understand the mechanics first. Starting with the basics makes playing the game in an online environment much easier.
Be prepared before playing the game in class. Even if you know the game, it doesn’t mean that you can teach the game and understand all its intricacies.
Find a mentor, someone with experience that can help them as quickly as possible, and have someone to get answers when you are stuck.
For the newly trained, try to have someone with experience in the classroom to help you fix upcoming issues.
Start easy, take it step-by-step. Start with the logistics game, then go through the different manufacturing games. By starting easy, you can build on your success.
Central Michigan University uses ERPsim in two huge in-person events: a Highschool ERPsim game and an annual ERPsim competition. CMU uses the High School ERPsim game as a recruiting tool for high school students. Once a year, they invite students from all over the state and region to participate and entice them to join CMU or join a minor in computer science. The event is incredibly engaging and fun for the attendees.
They engage their students by enlisting them as mentors for the high school students as it gives them a great experience of what it is like to help someone in a business-like environment. It is beneficial for everyone there. Because the high school students are usually sent by their parents, they are often not motivated at first. But once the first round is over, they all are 100% engaged and want to win the event.
The biggest ERPsim event at CMU is the annual ERPsim competition, where between 190 and 240 students participate and 35 to 40 companies bring their mentors who tutor the students from the start. Because the event is one day before the big career fair, the mentors do not have to make extra trips and can already see the students one day ahead. The companies are actively recruiting during the competition, and some of them even make job offers on the floor.
However, this also works the other way around, as the students who do not react well have the opportunity to see their mistakes and make improvements. The event is significant for the University as it demonstrates what they are capable of and how qualified their students are. It is also a good way for the students to create relationships with companies as they already start engaging in October with their mentors, and the event is in February.