Colorado State University College of Business Students Place First in SAP University Alliances North America Student Dashboard Design Competition

Three Colorado State University Computer Information Systems graduate students – Laura Barron, Austin Walton, and Matt Zachman – have won the SAP University Alliances North America Student Dashboard Design Competition in Orlando, Fla.

CSU finished in the top spot ahead of the University of Pittsburgh and Texas A&M University in the final competition. Part of the SAPPHIRE NOW conference attended by more than 15,000 business leaders, the competition tested participants on their ability to create a digital dashboard for a real client – Junior Achievement of Delaware Valley (Philadelphia) – with high usefulness, usability and data quality.

“Professors at over 220 universities in North America use SAP software and SAP University Alliances curriculum to improve students’ academic and career outcomes,” said Heather Czech Matthews, SAP University Alliances Americas director. “The dashboard competition provided students an opportunity to gain highly sought after analytic skills. From a field of 70 student teams, the SAP executive judges were impressed with the insights the Colorado State University students demonstrated using SAP Crystal Dashboard Design to visualize the financial key performance indicators of Junior Achievement.”

SAP is the global market leader in enterprise application software with more than 50,000 employees, 190,000 customers and revenues around €14.3 billion per year. The business creates software for companies of all sizes and industries.

“Roughly 65 percent of the world’s business transaction volume touches SAP systems,” said C.A.P. Smith, computer information systems professor at the College of Business. “As part of SAP’s University Alliances program, CSU has access to real SAP systems that can be used to teach business principles. Having some experience with SAP can be a significant advantage for our graduates as they begin their careers.”

Digital dashboards are components of ERP systems. In the same way a car’s dashboard provides critical information to a driver, a digital dashboard gives the real-time status of a business to help a company make smart, effective decisions. A dashboard might contain data, graphs, charts and more to make vital information easier to view.

“A well-designed dashboard shows key performance indicators over time and space. This enables high-level decision makers to become aware of emerging problems, recognize their causes, and implement solutions,” Smith said. “We teach dashboard design as part of the requirements in the CIS program, but Laura, Matt, and Austin used their own initiative in going above and beyond requirements to win this prestigious competition.”

The CSU team’s winning dashboard went beyond the required criteria and included key information on finances, contribution patterns and trends, and performance compared to the national Junior Achievement organization. The team’s presentation included a demonstration of how the dashboard could be used to determine the most effective revenue sources to increase in order to cover future expenses. The team also added a mapping system to demonstrate the geographic location of donors over time, a feature not included by other teams.

“For Junior Achievement, this is an important milestone. Thanks to the hard work of the CSU students and to a world-class solution from SAP, we’ll be able to more accurately track our financials, attain insight we never had before and better manage our business in order to continue to create a significantly positive impact in our community,” said Paul Kappel, president of JA for the Delaware Valley.

JA is a non-profit organization that empowers young people to own their economic success. Their volunteer-delivered, K-12 programs foster work-readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy skills, and use experiential learning to inspire kids to dream big and reach their potential. With the support of 178,000 volunteers, Junior Achievement USA impacts 4 million students in more than 176,000 classrooms.

About the Master of Computer Information Systems Program

The Master of Computer Information Systems is offered both on campus at Colorado State University’s College of Business in Fort Collins, Colo., and online anywhere in the world. The program can be completed in as few as 12 months or can be flexed up to five years, depending on each student’s particular needs. The program is internationally accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

To learn more, contact the CIS Advisor at or visit the program’s website at