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Arkansas RFID Research Center Moving to Auburn University

The center, while continuing its research relationship with the University of Arkansas, will expand into NFC, active RFID and other wireless technologies, and will benefit from partnerships with Auburn's research hubs.
By Claire Swedberg
May 01, 2014

The RFID Research Center, currently part of the University of Arkansas, is moving to an Alabama site near Auburn University, with which it will now be affiliated. The center's Arkansas Radio Compliance (ARC) laboratory has offered certification and testing for ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags since 2010 (see Arkansas Radio Compliance Center Aims to Avert Clashing Requirements), and both the RFID Research Center and the ARC lab are now expected to grow exponentially, according to Bill Hardgrave, a dean and Wells Fargo professor at Auburn University's Raymond J. Harbert College of Business. The RFID Research Center will continue its research relationship with the University of Arkansas' Sam M. Walton College of Business, the college's department of supply chain management and the university's Center for Advanced Spatial Technology. However, it will now also work closely with multiple groups at Auburn that will allow it to expand far beyond item-level RFID tagging for apparel and other retail applications.

The move will also bring the RFID Research Center back under the leadership of Hardgrave, who founded the center in 2005 (see University Opens RFID Research Center) and acted as its director. In 2010, he left the University of Arkansas and the RFID Research Center to serve as the dean of Auburn's business college (see Bill Hardgrave to Leave RFID Research Center).

John Mason
The RFID Research Center has provided a laboratory environment for the testing of EPC UHF RFID technology for use in the retail supply chain. Since its founding, the center has grown in size and scope, and has acquired multiple sponsors. Two years ago, it moved to a new facility twice the size (see University of Arkansas' New RFID Research Center Parallels Growth of RFID Industry).

In early 2014, Hardgrave approached John Mason, Auburn University's VP for research and central administration, to discuss the RFID Research Center, Mason recalls. The two, together with the University of Arkansas, then began developing a plan for the center's relocation. Historically, the center has worked closely with the school's Walton College of Business, but at Auburn, Mason says, it will now have the opportunity to work with departments focused on other areas as well, such as engineering. While at the University of Arkansas, the center has been part of Walton College's supply chain department, so its researchers have worked with other centers and units as a part of the business college. "At Auburn, we're a standalone institute, so we can engage directly with each of the different academic units and colleges within the university," explains Justin Patton, the RFID Research Center's director. "We essentially become a tool for all the different colleges to use equally."

Auburn University houses six research hubs, half of which may be able to contribute to, and share projects with, the RFID Research Center. One hub focuses on cybersecurity, another on health sciences, including food safety, and a third is dedicated to transportation and logistics related to moving individuals and goods for commercial and government sectors.

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