404 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON EDUCATION, VOL. 52, NO. 3, AUGUST 2009 RFID Student Educational Experiences at the UNT College of Engineering: A Sequential Approach to Creating a Project-Based RFID Course Vijay V. Vaidyanathan, Senior Member, IEEE, Murali R. Varanasi, Life Fellow, IEEE, Elias Kougianos, Senior Member, IEEE, Shuping Wang, Senior Member, IEEE, and Hari Raman Abstract—This paper describes radio frequency identiﬁcation a project-oriented curriculum. As part of the grant, the De- (RFID) projects, designed and implemented by students in the Col- partment of Electrical Engineering organized a workshop on lege of Engineering at the University of North Texas, as part of their radio frequency identiﬁcation (RFID) for a select group of un- senior-design project requirement. The paper also describes an RFID-based project implemented at Rice Middle School in Plano, dergraduate students. This workshop was conducted jointly by TX, which went on to win multiple prizes both at the school and re- faculty from the Electronics Engineering Technology Program gional level. The goal of the RFID endeavor is to develop an RFID and the Department of Electrical Engineering, and selected elective course that is current, industry-oriented, and methodically experts from industry. The workshop introduced eight students built to enable faculty to design, develop, and deliver the course to to RFID technology, standards, and applications. An offshoot a diverse group of engineering students. The sequence of events through which the course evolved was as follows: of the workshop was students’ use of RFID applications in 1) conduct an industry-supported workshop for students in the their senior design projects. In addition, faculty used RFID College of Engineering with funding received from the Na- as a technical enticement to attract promising middle-school tional Science Foundation (NSF); students to engineering by providing kits and advisory help to 2) assign an RFID-based design project for the senior students students interested in implementing RFID-based projects for who attended the workshop; 3) use the ﬁrst senior design project as a model to encourage sub- their school science projects. sequent senior students to create their own RFID projects or This paper describes the interdisciplinary RFID workshop, enable the students to contact companies seeking to accom- two resultant design projects by college seniors, and an RFID- plish RFID solutions to a problem; based project implemented at Rice Middle School in Plano, 4) involve middle school students in RFID-based projects by Texas, with kits provided by the UNT College of Engineering. using the senior design projects as an enticement; 5) use the successful projects as the basis for practical laboratory The goal of the RFID workshop at the UNT College of Engi- experiences to be created in a new elective course on RFID. neering was to introduce an RFID elective course that would be current, industry-oriented, and methodically built to give the Index Terms—Assessment, industry-sponsored project, keyless entry, project-based curriculum, radio frequency identiﬁcation. faculty involved the conﬁdence to design, develop, and deliver the curriculum to a diverse group of engineering students. To this end, the process laid out was as follows: I. INTRODUCTION 1) Use the NSF grant to conduct an industry-supported work- shop for students enrolled in the College of Engineering. The HE College of Engineering at the University of North workshop was conducted in the spring semester of 2004. T Texas (UNT) was established in 2003 in a sprawling new 285-acre complex known as the UNT Discovery Park. 2) Assign an RFID-based senior design project for students who attended the workshop in the spring semester of 2005. The College of Engineering comprises the founding depart- 3) Use the ﬁrst senior design project as a model to encourage ments of Computer Science and Engineering, Engineering subsequent senior students (Fall 2006) to create their Technology, and Materials Science and Engineering. One own RFID projects or enable them to contact companies of the ﬁrst additions to the College of Engineering was the seeking an RFID solution to a problem. Department of Electrical Engineering, which was generously 4) Involve middle school students in RFID-based projects by funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to provide using the senior design projects as an enticement. 5) Use the successful projects as the basis for practical labo- Manuscript received October 31, 2007; revised June 25, 2008. First pub- ratory experiences to be integrated in a new elective course lished May 02, 2009; current version published August 05, 2009. This work was supported by the National Science Foundation under grants NSF-0343263 on RFID. and NSF-0431818. The aim was to present these successful experiences to in- V. Vaidyanathan, E. Kougianos, and S. Wang are with the Department of En- dustry and RFID professional societies, so as to involve them gineering Technology, University of North Texas, UNT Research Park, Denton, TX 76207 USA (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org). in the design, development, and delivery of an RFID elective M. R. Varanasi is with the Department of Electrical Engineering, University course for students in the College of Engineering. of North Texas, UNT Research Park, Denton, TX 76207 USA. H. Raman is with Clark High School, Plano, TX75023 USA. II. BACKGROUND Color versions of one or more of the ﬁgures in this paper are available online at http://ieeexplore.ieee.org. RFID has emerged as one of the most advanced and com- Digital Object Identiﬁer 10.1109/TE.2008.930093 mercially promising types of real-world awareness technology 0018-9359/$26.00 © 2009 IEEE VAIDYANATHAN et al.: RFID STUDENT EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCES 405 . In its basic form, RFID enables identiﬁcation of individual gets, antenna propagation (near and far), novel fabrication of items, distinguishing between these individual items and then tags, and international standards have been included in the cur- tracking them. Electromagnetic wave propagation occurs when riculum. alternating electric and magnetic ﬁelds at 90-degree angles The capstone experience for computer engineering stu- travel in the same direction, feeding each other . An electro- dents at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis magnetic wave may be propagated at just about any frequency, Obispo provides teams of students with purposely undeﬁned but the length of the antenna determines the propagation of design projects of signiﬁcant scope . Students deal with a the wave at a given frequency . Radio frequencies can real customer and are expected to do a signiﬁcant amount of penetrate through metal and other objects. Thus, the user need independent learning while working on the project, a unique not be in the line of sight with his target. A basic RFID system feature of the course. Although students’ past and current comprises a tag (transponder), a transceiver (RFID reader), and projects encompass RFID, they typically do not select RF an antenna on each of them. RFID tags can be either passive and wireless courses as one of their three technical elective (operate without an internal source of power) or active (with courses prior to undertaking the capstone sequence. They are, an internal source of power). Passive tags are compact, durable therefore, required to come up to speed quickly in the area. To and inexpensive whereas active tags can operate over a longer this end, students are grouped into knowledge teams. Students range. The RFID reader consists of a transceiver along with a are expected to become experts in their assigned topic, and to decoder and an antenna. The reader transmits a low power RF share their knowledge with other members of their project team signal through its antenna, which is received by the tag through and knowledge team. At another institution, the ﬁrst technical the tag’s antenna. The tag uses the power from the radio signal elective lecture/laboratory course in the RF and wireless area to transmit data back to the receiver. Advanced forms of RFID is high-frequency ampliﬁer design . First, the scattering tags are now available at reasonable prices . parameters of a bipolar transistor were measured on the net- The passive RFID tag is essentially a small, self-contained work analyzer ﬁrst, then an Advanced Design System (ADS) electronic circuit comprising two elements. One of these simulation was carried out to meet the speciﬁcations of the elements is designed to store digital identiﬁcation information; assigned design project, and ﬁnally the ampliﬁer was measured the other is designed to transmit that information to an RFID to assess its correlation with the simulation results. reader located nearby . Electronically, the tag remains in The Electrical Engineering Department at UNT also developed a passive state until it is subjected to radio waves from a lecture and laboratory course on wireless microwave design the reader pointed in its direction, at which instant the tag and analysis. To train RFID engineers, several universities have becomes active and transmits prestored data to the reader. developed RFID training courses, concentrations, or certiﬁcate Additionally, passive tags have small amounts of memory programs . Often, students can complete these courses that allow them to store an ID number, and an antenna or programs without touching a single RFID reader. Part of to receive radio waves. The logic on the tag responds to the difﬁculty is the cost and limited availability of RFID instructions sent to the reader about the information to be systems and analysis equipment. Jones et al.  describe sent back. A combination of RFID tag and receiver can be several RFID technology-related course topics dealing with used for a variety of applications ranging from health care antenna design, protocol design, and implementation strategies to secured access to vehicles and facilities . for students to access from a centralized system. By using Recently, Texas Instruments (TI) announced its new three-di- the central system, students from multiple universities can mensional analog front-end integrated circuit, a low-frequency share a single piece of equipment and still learn about the RF chip that simpliﬁes vehicle access design while providing underlying RFID technology. An additional beneﬁt is that cost, time, power, and board space savings . TI’s new chip is instructors need not learn every single detail of complicated a primary component of a keyless access solution and requires equipment to be effective in teaching students to work with no action from the user to gain entry to his or her vehicle . RFID technology. RFID access control systems have been developed to provide Topics in RFID add an exciting dimension to the student’s ed- independent, non-stop systems for security, parking, and access ucational experience, and ﬁt easily into an established electrical control . Recently, Federal Express (FedEx) used wristband engineering or electronics engineering technology curriculum RFID transponders to provide hands-free vehicle access and se- without the need for an overhaul of infrastructure in labora- curity to 1100 FedEx delivery vehicles . The keyless entry tory equipment. In addition, the prerequisites for a course on system uses RFID transponders and readers mounted at each RFID are already in place in the aforementioned curricula: cir- of the doors of the delivery vehicle. When the transponder is cuits, digital electronics, microprocessors, and basic program- placed within six inches of the reader, the transponder’s code is ming. With RFID assuming increasing signiﬁcance in industry compared to the code in the system’s memory; and if a match is and society as a whole, there is a need to equip students with detected, the door unlocks for ﬁve seconds . In all these ap- specialized knowledge on the topic. This knowledge will en- plications, keyless entry is the desired option. Thus, RFID has able students to be productive in a short period and will save myriad applications in industry. RFID also has many applica- employers a considerable amount of time and money that would tions in the engineering curriculum. otherwise be spent in training new hires. With these objectives in Nagurney  implemented RFID in the electrical engineering mind, it was decided to pursue a methodical, sequential process curriculum at his institution  and uses the RF concepts of to establish an RFID elective course in the UNT College of En- RFID in his proposed course. Various topics such as link bud- gineering. 406 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON EDUCATION, VOL. 52, NO. 3, AUGUST 2009 III. STUDENT EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCES ensure that a single 5-V regulator would not be overloaded and fail. One 5-V regulator would supply the DSP devel- A. Workshop on RFID opment kit, whereas the other would provide power to the A workshop on RFID, made possible by NSF Grants M68HC12 (control processor) board. The 9-V regulator 0343263 and 0431818, was organized and conducted for senior supplies power to the RFID reader. and graduate students over a two-week period in the summer 5) The system should be electrically isolated from the rest of semester of 2004. Based on merit, eight seniors from the the vehicle’s electrical system. Electronics Engineering Technology program and one graduate 6) The entire system should consume less than 2 watts (W) student from Computer Science were selected. The workshop of power. This requirement was put in place to simulate a was team-taught by industry personnel and faculty from the constraint on the students in the design of their project. UNT College of Engineering, and had an extensive curriculum, Fig. 1 illustrates the complete RFID system. from the basics of RFID to applications of RFID in various The complete RFID system comprises the following subsys- ﬁelds. Topics taught in the workshop included: basics of RFID, tems: hardware and software, evaluation and selection of RFID 1) Voltage regulators: These regulators maintain constant equipment, RFID types, environmental effects, and a scenario voltage for other subsystems. of RFID everywhere. Other topics included the manufacture 2) RFID reader: The reader communicates with the RFID tag of RFID equipment, RFID standards, risk assessment, and (transponder) used as a key. The EM H4102 RFID reader investment. Classes were conducted for eight hours daily with consumes 54 mW when idle and uses a 9-V to 12-V DC a break for lunch. Students were administered quizzes and tests power supply. Since cars already have a 12-V battery, and (2). The last week of the workshop involved a student project the regulator must have a 3-V potential difference between and presentation, carried out as a group effort (two to three the input and the output to function correctly, the car’s bat- students to a group). The workshop introduced students to tery and a regulator were used to step the voltage down to a RFID and sowed the seed for senior design projects involving non-ﬂuctuating 9 V. The chosen reader has the capability to RFID. One of the students from the workshop formed a senior amend an internal list of recognized tags, and outputs logic design group with two of his peers to design and develop an high when an authorized tag comes into its read range and RFID-based keyless automobile entry system using RFID and logic low otherwise. The system in Fig. 1 responds to pas- biometrics. sive tags, which have an indeﬁnite shelf life. Passive tags have a lower read range than active tags, but this is of no B. Keyless Automobile Entry—Senior Design Project 1 consequence because the vehicle’s owner will be close to Biometrics is the statistical measurement of biological phe- the car door for the ﬁngerprint scan. nomena or traits . Biometrics equipment is generally used to 3) RFID tag-passive RFID transponder: Passive tags do not create an electronic template and to store the template for access use batteries but rather power received from the signal authorization. It was decided to incorporate ﬁngerprint scanning coming from an RFID reader’s antenna. Passive tags have as a biometric measure in this project for the following reasons: an indeﬁnite shelf life by default. They are more common 1. Each ﬁngerprint is unique. and less expensive than active tags. 2. Duplicating ﬁngerprints is a nontrivial, tedious task which 4) Biometric scanner with DSP: The biometric scanner scans requires the use of precise tools. ﬁngerprints and uses the DSP to compare and calculate 3. Fingerprint scanning is not as intrusive as other means of the probabilities of a matched ﬁngerprint. The students de- biometric veriﬁcation, like retinal scanning. cided to use the Atmel ﬁngerprint scanner, based on its up- 4. Fingerprint scanning personalizes vehicle ownership and ward mobility (its ability to adapt to emerging technology), limits access to only those whom the owner adds to the and the given design considerations. The fact that this de- ﬁngerprint and RFID transponder databases. vice requires the TI TMS320C6713 DSP  to operate Prior to designing the system, an industrial environment was was not an obstacle to this choice, since the laboratory al- simulated by listing some “customer” requirements, as follows: ready had a DSP board, the Atmel scanner was ﬁnalized. 1) The RFID reader should add and remove at least four tags Users swipe their ﬁngers across a 1.5- by 1-mm sensor strip from its look-up table to ensure ﬂexibility of the prototype. instead of placing them onto a pad, which eliminates the 2) The system should incorporate a digital signal processor possibility of leaving a latent print that someone could du- (DSP) board that will add and remove ﬁngerprints from its plicate. The scanner uses the DSP board to run software look-up table. that compares the ﬁngerprint against a prerecorded tem- 3) The RFID reader should have a read range of 3” to 6”. A plate that users register upon ﬁrst use. The software uses short read range is necessary for two reasons. Since the image-processing algorithms for the comparison and cal- user would need to be close for a ﬁngerprint scan, a short culates the probability of a match. Should the probability read range is appropriate. Second, a short read range corre- of a match exceed the threshold set by the algorithm, the sponds with both low-frequency RFID systems and passive software will indicate a match. The acceptance threshold tags. was set at 50%, which allows for less than a 0.1% false ac- 4) The system should use three voltage regulators operating ceptance rate. at 5 volts (V) and 9 V of direct current (DC). It was de- 5) Motorola M68HC12 series micro-controller: The micro- cided to use two 5-V regulators to distribute the load to controller uses outputs from the RFID reader and biometric VAIDYANATHAN et al.: RFID STUDENT EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCES 407 scanner to control the output of the system. The Motorola involved taking information from IUID tags and creating a new M68HC12 (HC12) provides overall system control, de- RFID tag. The prototype would help the sponsoring company to ciding when to lock and unlock the door and when to turn lower labor costs, increase loss prevention, and upgrade to more on or turn off an interior light of the automobile. The mi- recent technology. The overall design objectives for this proto- crocontroller uses the outputs from the RFID and ﬁnger- type were as follows: print scanning subsystems to control the door lock actuator 1) Accept an input value for the desired number of reads in a directly. The HC12 is a common, inexpensive micro-con- given operation. troller (available in the laboratory). The HC12 was pro- 2) Read and store Military Standard (MIL-STD) 130  en- grammed for operation using assembly language. When coded two-dimensional IUID data matrices until the spec- the system is ﬁrst turned on, the HC12’s program locks the iﬁed number of reads is accomplished. doors by default; locking triggers the reset state and pre- 3) Be able to collate the gathered IUID data and encode the vents a thief from unlocking the automobile. After a user data by using MIL-STD 129 hex/binary data . meets the security checks, the HC12 unlocks the door and 4) Effectively write the above generated data on Class 1 tags turns the light on for 30 s. When the 30 s expires, the doors complying with the electronic product code. lock again and the dome light turns off. 5) Accomplish the above objectives in two setups: conveyor 6) Signal conditioning and driving circuitry: The circuitry belt and handheld. forms the interfaces between the subsystems for communi- 6) Use a LabVIEW-based graphical user interface (GUI) to cating and for driving high-current devices. The output of enable the human operator to use the system appropriately the Atmel device switched between a 0-V (ground) and 2-V to meet any of the above objectives. The system, depicted level, and needed to be interfaced to the HC12 series micro- in Fig. 2, consists of the following components: controller that used 5-V transistor-transistor logic. To con- a) IUID tags: The tesa secure (IUID) tags were placed dition the signal to correspond with the HC12, the students on 11/2- by 2-inch aluminum disks. These disks were used an operational ampliﬁer to amplify the voltage states. used in accordance with the space between the 1/4- The operational ampliﬁer of choice was National Semicon- inch timing belts. Fig. 3 shows the IUID tags that were ductor’s single-sided LM386, which operates on a supply used as initial input. The tesa tag is composed of three that provides only positive voltage. The noninverting con- parts: the commercial and government entity (CAGE) ﬁguration was chosen to produce a positive gain. To con- code is noted after “(17 V);” the following line noted vert 2 V to 5 V, a gain factor of 2.5 was implemented. by “(1P)” is the IUID product number; the last line Since the LM386 used a power of 5 V, even if the gain noted by “(S)” is the IUID serial number. This infor- was slightly more than 2.5, the ampliﬁer would saturate at mation is stored in raw data to a two-dimensional data 5 V and not exceed the required level. Another LM386 was matrix, which is located at the far right in Fig. 4. used to implement dome light control. b) b) A conveyor belt system using a DC motor was de- 7) Automobile door lock actuator: A dc motor that extends signed. The purpose of the conveyor belt system was and retracts an arm to lock and unlock the door. The car to simulate actual conditions in the sponsoring com- door lock actuator is a dc motor that switches direction pany by transporting the tags (products) that were to based on the polarity of the input voltage. So, to extend the be scanned. arm of the actuator, the system must provide 12 V on pin c) c) IUID scanner and LabVIEW: The Microscan A and ground on pin B. Likewise, to retract the actuator Quadrus Mini is an IUID scanner that captures its arm, the system must provide 12 V on pin B and ground information by a process called imaging. The ini- on pin A. To enact the polarity inversion for the actuator, tial input, which is the tesa IUID tag placed on an the system used two relays to switch between ground and aluminum disk, travels on the conveyor belt. The 12 V for each pin. The relays required more power than scanner sees the information from the tag as it travels the HC12 could provide. The Apex PA26 power ampliﬁer on the conveyor. From this point, the information was used to drive the relays with the requisite voltage and is received by the scanner, decoded to raw data, current. sent through the RS-232 connection working with the The project was conceptualized, designed, and developed be- BC-Wedge software, and input into the LabVIEW 8.2 fore being presented in front of an audience of industry per- (student edition) software. This scanner enables users sonnel and faculty. The prototype worked successfully as en- to scan tesa tags that contain IUID information and visioned, and the project was a success. to obtain the CAGE code from that information. The CAGE code identiﬁes the supplier and ensures the C. Item-Unique Identiﬁcation (IUID) To RFID-Senior Design uniqueness of the serial number across all suppliers, Project 2 represented in ASCII format. The GUI allows the user to set a starting number for the serial number and In the fall 2006 semester, a group of three students undertook converts the number from decimal to binary format. an RFID-based project for a local company, to fulﬁll their senior Then the GUI sends both the converted CAGE code design assignment. The overall goal of this project was to build and the converted serial number to the 96-bit output. a system that would upgrade the existing IUID inventory con- The GUI also allows tag scanning to be automated, trol system to an RFID inventory control system. This activity which is one of the major objectives in this design. 408 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON EDUCATION, VOL. 52, NO. 3, AUGUST 2009 Fig. 1. Block diagram of the RFID system for keyless automobile entry. Fig. 2. System block diagram for IUID-RFID application. can be digitally encoded in an RFID tag or smart label, and then wirelessly transmitted to an RFID reader- even in harsh environments. e) BarTender software and Notepad: BarTender, Win- dows bar-code labeling software program, offers fea- tures for compliance labels integration with enterprise software and even encodes RFID tags. With a few Fig. 3. Tesa tag (IUID) . quick mouse motions, BarTender combines bar codes, text, and graphics into labels. d) RFID writer/printer: The RFID writer (encoder) and f) The 96-bit outputs were sent to Notepad software, printer enable implementation of the RFID systems selected because the BarTender software (tag cre- with desired accuracy and efﬁciency. Error-free data ation software) understands Notepad ﬁle formats. VAIDYANATHAN et al.: RFID STUDENT EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCES 409 salsa glass bottle, there was no yield (0%) for all three transpon- ders when they were kept on top of the shoebox. For both the Coke cans and the salsa glass bottle, placing a piece of foam on bubble wrap between the transponder and the shoebox resulted in a positive yield. For the Coke cans, the yield was greater for 0.5-inch-thick foam than 0.25-inch-thick foam; and for the salsa glass bottle, the result was inconclusive. The second hypoth- esis was proven to be correct. Regardless of the material for the glass, disk, and card transponders, the yields varied for all ﬁve positions. E. Assessment of RFID Projects RFID Workshop: At the conclusion of the RFID workshop, students were given an evaluation survey. In response to a ques- tion as to whether they enjoyed and beneﬁted from the intro- duction to RFID technology, students answered afﬁrmatively and expressed a keen interest in working in RFID technology. Fig. 4. Experimental setup for a middle school project involving RFID. Two groups of students chose to pursue a RFID-based project for their senior design project, and one student interned for a Dallas-based company in their RFID division. In response to LabVIEW sends the output one by one to each line of a question on naming the RFID issue that they would like to the text ﬁle for different tags. spend most time on, the students chose more hands-on experi- The IUID to RFID project was successfully demonstrated to mentation and felt that working with RF equipment would rein- the satisfaction of the sponsoring company. The system was able force their knowledge of theory. They also felt that the course to recognize tags, capture the relevant information, and store it would be enhanced with the addition of ﬁeld-strength meters for postprocessing tasks. and a greater variety of tags, especially active tags. Privacy is- sues associated with RFID were the least appealing to students. D. Middle School RFID Project Students appreciated working in groups and overall had a posi- tive impression of the workshop. An RFID kit was provided to a middle school student for a 1) Senior Design Projects: The capstone experience can be a science fair organized by the Plano Independent School District rich source of assessment information. Such information can be (PISD) in Plano, TX. The premise was to interest the student in measurements of meeting the requirements of the course itself electrical/electronics engineering by using RFID. The student through student learning outcomes and course objectives; the was given all necessary material and books to familiarize him degree to which the students are successful in, collectively ap- with the working of the system. Once familiar with the system, plying skills and capabilities cultivated in earlier courses; and the student was to design his own project on a potential applica- the maturity level of the student in applying the concepts of tion of RFID. The purpose of the project was to evaluate the per- team work, communication, time management, resourcefulness, formance of the tagging process based on various factors such self-assessment, and personal development. Student presenta- as the position of the tag, the type of tag, and the material’s com- tions are required at the end of the capstone course experience. position (solid, liquid, etc.). The hypothesis of the project was Students are required to demonstrate the successful working of that if the types of objects being tagged were metal or liquid, their prototype and give a 25-min presentation (for the entire the detection rate would be low because the various items such group) on their project, followed by 5 min of questions and an- as metal and liquids are known to interfere with RF signals and swers, to an audience comprising invitees from industry, fac- hinder effective detection. If the placement of the each tag were ulty, and students. All senior design projects are required to en- not identical for a series of tagged objects, then the detection compass hardware design, software programming, and product rate would vary, because the amount of signal loss occurring at marketing. In addition to a presentation, students are required to each position would ﬂuctuate. The RFID device was set up ac- submit a project report written in IEEE format. Senior Design cording to the procedures outlined in the data sheets . The Rating Sheets are completed by industrial personnel and fac- experimental setup is shown in Fig. 4. The student performed ulty. The senior design ratings sheet has three major categories a test of his hypothesis on aluminum Coke cans, plastic water in which students are rated on a scale from 1 to 5 (low to high). bottles, and a glass bottle with metal lid containing salsa. The major categories are 1) individual effort, encompassing sub- The ﬁrst hypothesis was partially proved. Tagging the alu- ject introduction, quality of visual aids, composure, presentation minum cans of Coke resulted in no signal detection (0%) for all skills and clear technical descriptions; 2) team effort, which in- three types of transponders (Texas Instruments, Inc., glass, disk cludes project design procedures, demonstration of project and and card) and all ﬁve positions on the shoebox (top, front, left technical content; and 3) subjective evaluations. The ratings in- side, right side, and back). Tagging the water bottles resulted formation is analyzed by the Institutional Research Ofﬁce, and in a signiﬁcant amount of yield and an even higher yield than the statistical information is conveyed to the program coordi- the empty shoe box for the glass and card transponders. For the nator, who in turn disseminates the information to the faculty. 410 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON EDUCATION, VOL. 52, NO. 3, AUGUST 2009 Each question on the senior design rating sheet is linked by a academia personnel actively involved in RFID. Members’ ex- key to one or more ABET outcomes . These eleven pert opinions are currently being sought in the preparation of outcomes are measures for determining the effectiveness of a the course syllabus and learning material. The following course program. Detailed analysis provides information on how the fac- objectives and student learning outcomes were identiﬁed for in- ulty and industry personnel rated each student within a group, as clusion in the course syllabus: well as providing ratings for the group. The senior design project Course Objectives—Students should be able to: on RFID-based automotive entry received the second highest 1. understand the basic principles of RFID; rating of all senior design projects. The project group scored a 2. understand the operation of various types of RFID tags, cumulative average of 4.01/5. The project was rated highly by readers, and transponders; industry personnel in the audience as compared to other projects 3. understand the various applications of RFID; on show. Analysis of the ratings revealed that the project satis- 4. participate effectively in groups; ﬁed all ABET outcomes. The second project on IUID to RFID 5. understand the basic principles of critical thinking, scored higher with faculty than with industry personnel. Data problem solving, and technical proﬁciency; analysis revealed that this project also satisﬁed all ABET cri- 6. understand computer-assisted solutions to RFID applica- teria. The project group scored a cumulative average of 3.64/5. tions; 2) Middle School Project: The project won ﬁrst prize at 7. understand project reporting with suitable references. its grade level in the science fair organized at the school. It Student Learning Outcomes—student should be able to: was also declared the grand prize winner in the science fair a) construct a simple mathematical model for an RFID among all entrants. The project was judged by a group of system; external judges based on creative ability, scientiﬁc thought, b) design an RFID system using passive tags; technical skills, thoroughness, and clarity. It was then entered c) design an RFID system using active tags; in a competition at the regional level, where it again secured the d) analyze the difference in operation between passive and ﬁrst prize. The regional competition was organized by Texas active tags; Instruments in Dallas. e) recognize the standards of RFID operation; f) identify various industrial applications of RFID; F. Justiﬁcation for the RFID Course in UNT College of g) demonstrate the effective operation of an RFID system Engineering using computer simulation; The Dallas area is considered to be the RFID capital of North h) articulate solutions to RFID problems in a brainstorming America. RFID applications are widespread. For example, session; the North Texas Tollway Authority’s vehicle TollTag system i) evaluate solutions to RFID problems as a member of a and ExxonMobil’s Speedpass payment system use RFID tech- technical troubleshooting team; nology. These kinds of applications are early adoptions of RFID j) prepare a class presentation that is well researched, is technology. The Dallas-Fort Worth area has more than 20 RFID grammatically correct, and interprets printed material rel- technology-related ﬁrms. Dallas-Fort Worth has bloomed into evant to a topic on RFID. a tremendous RFID laboratory with its amalgam of education, The course will also include ﬁnal group projects. Students ideas, commerce, capital, and supply chain networks. The will work in groups of three to four on their ﬁnal class projects. Dallas-Fort Worth area is home to four major engineering uni- RFID Tribe industry members will be involved in assigning ﬁnal versities, each catering to a large number of students. Interest in projects to students enrolled in the course. More design projects RFID technology is peaking, and engineering departments need for college seniors involving RFID will be sought. In addition, to recalibrate their curriculum to include RFID technology. The industrial experts from the RFID Tribe will be invited to present inclusion of RFID technology in the curriculum will enable guest lectures on various applications of RFID as part of the new students to be more competitive in today’s challenging job course. Thus, the course will achieve its twofold objective of ac- market. Hence, UNT’s College of Engineering chose to adopt tive industry participation and introduction of prominent RFID a phased approach to introduce an applications-based RFID industry personnel to students. The proposed course will be a course in its curriculum that will cater to a student audience 4-semester-h class and will have a laboratory component. Thus, that includes majors from electrical engineering, electronics the course will offer a judicious mix of theory and hands-on engineering technology, computer engineering, and others. laboratory work to enable students to implement their learning from class. The course will also have a ﬁnal project and presen- G. Industry Involvement in the RFID Curriculum tation. The ﬁnal project will involve close interactions among The ﬁnal step in the process of developing the RFID cur- the students, faculty, and industry. riculum was to contact industry personnel associated with an A project-based course is one that endeavors to inculcate RFID professional society to participate actively in the design, competencies in students by means of practical assignments development, and delivery of an elective course in RFID appli- that complement theory. A good project-based course provides cations, to be offered as a cross-listed option for students in the students with the motivation and impetus for self-directed electronics engineering technology program and the electrical learning . In addition, a good project-based course seeks to engineering department. As part of this process, membership complete student learning by adding to their technical skills, the was sought and obtained for the UNT College of Engineering ability to work in teams and to develop a basic understanding in the RFID Tribe -an organization comprising industry and of the product lifecycle . The proposed RFID course ﬁts VAIDYANATHAN et al.: RFID STUDENT EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCES 411 in very well with the existing project oriented curriculum in  L. A. Slivovsky, “RFID in computer engineering capstone,” in Proc. the Department of Electrical Engineering at UNT. The RFID 36th ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Educ. Conf., San Diego, CA, 2006.  C. Sun, “An RF and wireless education curriculum,” in Proc. 9th Int. course has the technical and “soft-skill” components necessary Conf. Eng. Educ., San Juan, PR, 2006. in a project-based course ,  and ﬁts in well with the  A. K. Jones, S. R. Dontharaju, L. Mats, J. T. Cain, and M. H. Mickle, mission and vision of the College of Engineering at UNT. “Exploring RFID prototyping in the virtual laboratory,” in Proc. IEEE Int. Conf. Microelectron. Syst. Educ., San Diego, CA, 2007.  TMS320C6713 DSP Starter Kit (DSK) Product Information Texas In- struments [Online]. Available: http://focus.ti.com/docs/toolsw/folders/ IV. CONCLUSION print/tmdsdsk6713.html  Identiﬁcation Marking of U.S. Military Property Dep. Defense Stan- The senior design projects were executed successfully, to dard Practice, 2004, MIL-STD 130. the satisfaction of the faculty and industry personnel involved.  Military Marking for Shipment and Storage Dep. Defense Standard In addition to enabling students to fulﬁll their curriculum Practice, 2004, MIL-STD 129.  Low Frequency RFID Evaluation Kit Reference Guide, Texas Instru- requirement, the RFID-based projects opened up a new avenue ments 2002 [Online]. Available: http://focus.ti.com/lit/ug/scbu039/ of learning and gainful employment for the students. Out of a scbu039.pdf total of six students involved in the RFID projects, two have  [Online]. Available: www.abet.org  RFID Tribe: Where the World’s RFID Community Shares Ideas [On- come back to UNT to pursue further graduate studies; and two line]. Available: http://www.rﬁdtribe.co m/home/ students are employed with companies whose work involves  T. S. Harding, L. Vanasupa, R. N. Savage, and J. D. Stolk, RFID. The remaining two students are employed with industry “Work-in-progress—Self-directed learning and motivation in a project-based learning environment,” in Proc. Frontiers in Educ. in jobs that do not involve RFID. The middle school RFID Conf., Milwaukee, WI, 2007. project won ﬁrst prize at both the school science fair and the  B. Boehm, D. Port, and D. Klappholz, “Tailoring a successful project- district science fair. In addition, the project ﬁnished in the top based course—In which students learn to work in teams on the develop- ment of useful software products for real clients—To the needs and re- three projects at a science fair organized by TI. source constraints of individual colleges and universities,” in Proc. 16th The proposed RFID elective recognizes the need for a special- Conf. Software Eng. Educ. Training (CSEET), Madrid, Spain, 2003. ized undergraduate curriculum involving RFID in the Dallas- Fort Worth area that is industry-oriented and that encourages re- Vijay V. Vaidyanathan (M’02–SM’04) received the B.Sc. degree in physics search. The project is relevant to industry needs and endeavors and the B.Sc. (Tech.) degree in electronics instrumentation, both from Bombay to maintain quality by involving industry in the development University, Bombay, India, in 1985 and 1988, respectively. He received the M.S. and delivery of the innovative curriculum. In addition to pro- degree in 1992 and the Ph.D. degree in 1998, both in biomedical engineering from Texas A&M University, College Station. viding practical learning material, the course will integrate con- He is currently an Associate Professor with the College of Engineering, Uni- cepts in science and mathematics with associated topics in the versity of North Texas, Denton. He has ﬁve years of industry experience. His courses. The project seeks to make maximum impact on its con- research interests are biomedical optics, RFID applications, and design of inno- vative instrumentation systems. He has more than 25 refereed publications and stituents -industry and students-by bringing them together in an conference proceedings and has obtained external funding from federal and in- academic setting where both parties are stakeholders and will dustry grants totaling more than $300,000. symbiotically beneﬁt from a cohesive interaction. The focus is Dr. Vaidyanathan serves as the Associate Editor of the International Journal of Modern Engineering. He is an active participant in IEEE Society activities always on preparing the student to meet challenges in the mush- and served as advisor for the local student chapter. rooming ﬁeld of RFID. ACKNOWLEDGMENT Murali R. Varanasi (S’72–M’73–SM’89–F’96–LF’07) received the B.S. de- gree in physics from Andhra University in 1957 and the D.M.I.T. degree in The authors would like to acknowledge the contributions of electronic engineering from Madras Institute of Technology, India, in 1962. He R. Ogan, 2004 Chair of the IEEE Dallas Section, in conducting received the M.S. degree in 1972 and the Ph.D. degree in 1973, both in electrical engineering from the University of Maryland, College Park. the RFID workshop. The authors would also like to acknowl- He is currently serving as Professor and Chair of the Electrical Engineering edge the invaluable contribution of O. Sánchez, proposal writer Department, University of North Texas, Denton. His prior academic service in- at UNT Discovery Park, for help in organizing the manuscript. cludes faculty positions at Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA, and the Uni- versity of South Florida, Tampa, where he is Professor Emeritus. He has also served as Senior Scientiﬁc Ofﬁcer at the Defense Research and Development Laboratory and later as a Member of the technical staff at Computer Sciences REFERENCES Corporation and Program Director at the National Science Foundation.  Car Anti Theft Prevention Pagewise, Inc., 2002 [Online]. Available: Dr. Varanasi is an active participant in the IEEE Computer Society and served http://la.essortment.com/antitheftcarp_rhme.htm as Vice President of Educational Activities. He is also serving as Past-President  National Insurance Crime Bureau NICB, 2002 [Online]. Available: of CSAB and Member of the Board of Directors of ABET. He is the recipient http://www.nicb.org of the Richard Merwin Award from the IEEE Computer Society and the IEEE  T. Wayne, Electronic Communications Systems: Fundamentals Third Millennium medal. Through Advanced, 5th ed. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 2004.  S. Steven, RFID: Radio Frequency Identiﬁcation. New York: Mc- Graw-Hill, 2005. Elias Kougianos (SM’04) received the B.S. degree in electrical engineering  [Online]. Available: http://www.ti.com/rﬁd/docs/news/news_releases/ from the University of Patras, Greece, in 1985, the M.S. degree in physics in 2000 1987, the M.S. degree in electrical engineering in 1988, and the Ph.D. degree  D. Schell, “RFID keyless entry and ignition system speeds FedEx in electrical engineering in 1997, all from Louisiana State University, Baton couriers,” Business Solut., Oct. 2000. Rouge.  L. S. Nagurney, “Work in progress: Integrating the RF characteristics He is currently an Assistant Professor with the Department of Engineering of RFID into undergraduate EE courses,” in Proc. 36th ASEE/IEEE Technology, University of North Texas (UNT), Denton. From 1988 through Frontiers in Educ. Conf., San Diego, CA, 2006. 1997, he was with Texas Instruments, Inc., in Houston and Dallas. Initially, he 412 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON EDUCATION, VOL. 52, NO. 3, AUGUST 2009 concentrated on process integration of ﬂash memories and later as a researcher Hari Raman graduated from Skaggs Elementary School in 2003 and from Rice in the areas of technology CAD and VLSI CAD development. In 1997, he joined Middle School, Plano, TX, in 2006. Avant! Corp. (now Synopsys) in Phoenix, AZ, as a Senior Applications Engi- In 2005, he created an RFID experiment that tested the reliability of tagging neer; and in 2001, he joined Cadence Design Systems, Inc., Dallas, as a Se- objects using the Radio Frequency System. His ﬁndings won him the Grand nior Architect in Analog/Mixed-Signal Custom IC Design. He has been with Prize and First Prize at the building level, and Texas Instruments awarded him the UNT since 2004. His research interests are in the area of analog/mixed- First Place in the regional competition. In college, Hari would like to pursue his signal/RF IC design and simulation and in the development of VLSI architec- interest in the bioengineering ﬁeld leading to an M.D./Ph.D. degree. tures for multimedia applications. He is the author or coauthor of more than 35 peer-reviewed journal and conference publications. His research has been sup- ported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and several companies. Shuping Wang (SM’06) received the B.S. degree in radio electronics, the M.S. degree in physics, and the Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering, from Peking University, China; Georgia State University, Atlanta; and the University of Al- abama, Huntsville, in 1982, 1990, and 1996, respectively. She is currently an Assistant Professor with the Department of Engineering Technology, University of North Texas, Denton. Her teaching interests include high frequency systems and telecommunications. Her research interests include optical wavelength switch for optical network applications and polymeric mate- rials and devices for applications in telecommunications and chemical/biolog- ical sensing.