Business experts, Butte officials, and campus leadership touted the limitless possibilities for Montana Technological University’s students at the grand opening of the SAP Next-Gen Lab in Engineering Hall.
The lab is one of only 13 nationwide, and offers students access to a number of System Applications and Products in Data Processing (SAP) proprietary software programs that perform data analytics and export graphics that give business professionals easily digestible information to makes decision easier.
“It’s as if Excel and PowerPoint had a merger,” said Business and Information Technology senior Heaven Dagel. “These are tools we have in our arsenal that help create products you would deliver to CEOs or individuals at the C-Suite level.”
It took Dagel about eight weeks to feel really proficient with the software. One product she produced with SAP software analyzed whether celebrity social media endorsements were worth their cost. Another project focused on whether numbers of cars sold in certain parts of the world warranted keeping those vehicles on the market. Dagel is one of five students that competed in the SAP ERPsim International competition in spring 2023. Her team placed third in the North American Qualifier.
“I feel like it might look intimidating at first, but it can be easy to understand,” Dagel said.
Zack Bennett, another Business and Information Technology senior from Billings, completed an analyzation of birth rate and life expectancy data for countries around the world. Information like this is useful because it allows product managers to determine the size of their target market years into the future.
“It’s a useful skill to have for the future,” Bennett said. “It makes everything come together to make sense and every employer is going after candidates with that kind of experience.”
College of Letters, Sciences, and Professional Studies Dean Michele Hardy said the new lab is important for students.
“With these tools, they can go out into the world and solve real-world problems, no matter what career path they take,” Hardy said.
Butte–Silver Bow Chief Executive J.P. Gallagher told the crowd he was impressed with the lab.
“I’m blown away by the technology and direction we are able to go,” Gallagher said. “It shows the quality of work at Montana Tech. It’s going to impact not only our community, but the world.”
Tom Wilder is the executive director of the SAP University Competence Center at California State University, Chico. He was in attendance at the lab opening and stressed the importance of SAP to employment prospects for students.
“You are going to have knowledge going in that a lot of your seasoned co-workers won’t have,” Wilder said.
Brandon Morley (B.S. Business and Information Technology, '22) is currently working for KPMG in Tempe, Arizona.
Morley said SAP is the primary enterprise resource planning interface for one of his clients. Having experience with SAP helped him in his hiring interview.
“I remember their faces lit up when I told them I had SAP experience in my coursework,” Morley said. “SAP is one of the best enterprise resource planning programs, and you will gain knowledge transferrable to several different fields.”
Morley recommended that business students take advantage of the new lab and learn as much as they can.
“It’s only going to help you,” Morley said. “There really is no downside. It was a huge help in getting me my job offer.”