SAP Mentors Help Dreams Come True

Klaus Freyburger has been appointed an SAP Mentor, making him the first German university professor to receive the title. We take a closer look at the role.

People who decide to study computer science often have to face the nerd cliché. But SAP Mentor Klaus Freyburger at the University of Applied Sciences Ludwigshafen is looking for people just like this – for people who develop a passion for their subject and flourish. Thanks to his application-based approach and close collaboration with project partners, students become involved with practical fields of application instead of getting bogged down with pure theory. As part of the SAP University Alliances program, many successful joint projects have been completed. Freyburger benefits from his many years of experience as a developer at SAP, headquartered in the nearby town of Walldorf, and passes this experience on to his students in his capacity as professor of computer science. Just recently, he was awarded the title SAP Mentor in recognition of his expert knowledge – the first among just five university lecturers worldwide.

SAP Mentors are a select circle of particularly committed experts from SAP’s customer and partner network. They are nominated by SAP Community Network (SCN) participants and selected by SAP. As technologists, business people, consultants, bloggers, and employees, they have a special relationship with SAP and its customer and partner companies. Throughout the world, there are around 140 SAP Mentors, who are all devoted to innovation. They pass on their insights and views to SAP, and therefore make a contribution to the company’s strategies and products.

Database of Dreams with “SAP HANA for Humanity”

Last year, together with his colleague Haio Röckle and ten students, Klaus Freyburger developed the Database of Dreams based on SAP HANA. The goal was to devise an online platform in which dreams are gathered and categorized according to subject areas. What made this project special was that the professors were no more knowledgeable than their students: They were all in the same boat. After just two months of intensive work, the project was presented at SAP’s company showcase – SAPPHIRE in Orlando. Other exciting projects were also completed based on the SAP HANA Sentiment Intelligence rapid-deployment solution. For example, students developed a program that evaluated Facebook posts und Twitter tweets about the 2012 presidential election campaign in the United States according to semantic and linguistic parameters, enabling direct conclusions to be drawn about the mood among the voters.

Professor Klaus Freyburger (Image: private).
Professor Klaus Freyburger (Image: private).

The newly appointed SAP Mentor Freyburger says that he has had three lives: In the first one, he studied at the University of Mannheim, Germany, where he gained a degree and doctorate in mathematics. After university, he worked in development at SAP in Walldorf and headed the development of SAP BW-BPS (Business Planning and Simulation). Since 2002, he has been a professor of business information technology, teaching programming, business intelligence, and IT-based enterprise planning at the University of Applied Sciences Ludwigshafen am Rhein. He believes it is important for students to get to grips with realistic case studies, as well as receiving sound theoretical training. His ties with SAP meant that it made sense to use SAP products. When he first started at Ludwigshafen, SAP was not being used for business intelligence purposes. Through contact with his former boss Heinz Häfner, Freyburger succeeded in introducing SAP software to the students.

For Freyburger, the “SAP Mentor” title is nice to have, but not of earth-shattering significance. He would rather achieve his vision of bringing students and SAP software together and acquainting them slowly with the whole thing. In collaboration with his colleague Professor Tobias Hagen of the Offenburg University of Applied Sciences, he is actively engaged with the business intelligence curriculum. This involves setting up and maintaining the model company Global Bike Inc. for analysis purposes, case studies, and presentations, as well as drawing up the educational concept. Furthermore, he is preparing to work on the Academy Cube, a European Union initiative to fight unemployment among young people in E.U. countries heavily afflicted by the debt crisis. SAP offers courses to foster young talents and open up new job perspectives.

SAP University Alliances Get Students Involved with SAP Technologies

Freyburger’s vision is also reflected in the approaches taken in the SAP University Alliances (UA). They aim to get students throughout the world in touch with the latest SAP technologies as early as possible, help them overcome any fear of technology through hands-on experience, and demonstrate theoretical concepts using SAP software. “The students should become SAP consultants in a nutshell,” Freyburger explains. “Many of them do internships with SAP users or write their dissertations with such companies and start their careers in this environment.” To keep the quality as high as possible, SAP offers special training courses for teaching staff, so that the lecturers have all the necessary specialist knowledge. This means Freyburger is active in a train-the-trainer capacity, and can pass on the skills he learnt when he was an SAP employee. Globally, the SAP University Alliances are active in more than 600 institutions in research and education, supporting universities so that they can concentrate on their core competencies.