Enterprise Software

Technology is the focus for Purdue MBAs

If you need to recruit new IT staff members, you'll want to look at grads from this innovative MBA program. Purdue University attracts engineering students and turns them into IT leaders.

At Purdue University, the MBA program is unique because 64 percent of its students have a background in engineering or science. This percentage gives Purdue’s Krannert Business School an edge in using the latest technology to illustrate business principles.

“From application to graduation, technology is a pivotal part of the Krannert experience. Krannert's use of technology impacts everything from the way students and faculty interact—via a Web-based course management system—to how they register for courses, sign up for interviews, and maintain networks as alumni,” said Chuck Johnson, director of professional MS Programs.

For Erol Eskinazi, who will graduate from the program in May 2000, it’s the use of technology in the classroom, specifically simulations, which has helped him the most.

“The school uses simulation programs to illustrate real-life scenarios not only in quantitative and risk analysis classes, but also in marketing, finance, and MIS classes. These scenarios are extremely good ways to learn how and when to apply the principles that we discuss in the classrooms,” said Eskinazi.

Today’s technology
Johnson believes exposure to technology on the MBA level will be an integral part of the success Purdue graduates will have in the business world.

“A ‘wired world’ calls for managers who can use technology and information to drive decisions. Krannert uses a wide range of techno-information sources and experiences to provide our students with a hands-on education,” said Johnson.

Experiential learning (using projects, simulations, and case studies) accounts for more than 75 percent of instruction, according to Johnson.

One goal is to develop ERP-savvy managers. “We use SAP R/3 software to teach enterprise integration across a wide set of courses,” said Johnson.

The school first identified the need for such tools in 1991 during discussions with its stakeholder groups. Two years later, the school hosted a national Enterprise Integration Conference. In 1997 Hewlett-Packard awarded Krannert an initial equipment grant, and ERP courses began in the fall of that year.
Currently, students learn about ERP using SAP R/3 software in the Enterprise Integration Lab. But Krannert uses a variety of other technology-driven tools in the classroom. Here are some examples of key simulations and programs:
  • Synthetic Environment for Advanced Business Simulationworks like a war game to teach industry competition.
  • FASTgives students real-time trading experience.
  • Student Managed Investment Funddraws on daily information from sources such as Bloomberg and Datastream.
  • Crystal Ball Pro & MS Excelteach spreadsheet modeling.

Lifelong learners
Jim Kahler, a channel marketing manager for Hewlett-Packard and a 1996 graduate of Purdue, said the program’s use of case studies and simulations taught him how to use outside resources to help solve problems within his company.

Kahler has helped recruit other Purdue graduates into Hewlett-Packard. He likes Purdue grads because he described them as having the ability to “roll up their sleeves and get into the details” of projects. “I think the engineering/MBA combo makes for a proven ability to learn technology. Technology changes so fast that we can’t know it all. The important thing is our ability to learn as our careers progress,” said Kahler.

 Eskinazi discovered that Krannert’s emphasis on case study methods was useful during his internship with Cummins Engine Company in Columbus, IN.

“In the classroom, the cases challenged us to make good decisions with little information and [a lot of] uncertainty. My internship had the very same challenges on a daily basis,” said Eskinazi. “I attacked my project as if it was a case study. During the first three weeks, I spent endless hours studying the company, talking to people, visiting plants, getting advice from my supervisor, and researching other companies that were undertaking similar projects as Cummins.”

The manager of MBA recruiting for Cummins Engine, Shawn Wasson, said he looks for candidates with an understanding of solid business cases [who] know how to get things done in a corporation.

“Erol [Eskinazi] had strong technical skills and good leadership management skills,” said Wasson.

He predicts more MBA programs will emulate Krannert and take a high-tech approach to teaching.

“It will happen because we desperately need the skills [those students] bring. We are looking for future leaders,” said Wasson.

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