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P&G Fund Awards Academic Grant for RFID

The philanthropic arm of CPG-maker Procter & Gamble provides $150,000 to Indiana University to develop its RFID lab and curriculum.
By Jonathan Collins
Apr 11, 2005As radio frequency identification technology increasingly makes its way into commercial and government operations, a number of academic institutions are adding RFID to their curricula to prepare their students to work with the technology. To support the study of RFID, the Proctor & Gamble Fund has awarded a $150,000 grant to Indiana University's Kelley School of Business to develop and expand its RFID educational resources for undergraduate and graduate students.

The fund manages philanthropic contributions on behalf of consumer products giant Procter & Gamble, which whose has had a long-standing interest in RFID and was a founding member of the Auto-ID Center, the originator of Electronic Product Code technology. Indiana was one of three winners of this year's Procter & Gamble Fund's Curriculum Development Grant Program, aims to provide seed money for cutting-edge curriculum development at regionally accredited U.S. colleges and universities.

The RFID lab at Indiana University's Kelley School of Business
"This is the first time support has been provided [by the P&G Fund] for an RFID curriculum initiative. The bottom line is that Indiana University's proposal was one of the most relevant and innovative proposals we received," says Robert Pike, director of college relations at the Cincinnati-based P&G Fund.

The university says it will use the grant in part to expand its RFID lab into a technology center by adding additional equipment. The school will also use the grant to investigate the best ways to incorporate RFID into its undergraduate and graduate courses.

"It takes a lot of research to develop a new curriculum," says Ash Soni, chair of Kelley's department of operations and decision technologies. "With the P&G grant, we are now in a place to do this. We will develop a curriculum this summer in time for the new academic year."

Having created an RFID lab last summer, the school has already incorporated RFID into its undergraduate and graduate programs. The lab includes several readers from Alien Technology, as well as tags from a number of companies.

Using radio-controlled trucks and model trains that carry tagged items, students have been able to see how RFID tags can be read and how those reads can be collected and presented on a computer using software, also from Alien.

"We put tags on bottles and other items to show what works and what doesn't," says Soni. "Once students have seen RFID working, it is a lot easier for them to understand."

The lab is used to provide practical experience of RFID and EPC technology for students. Students will then apply that lab experience to their IT, business and supply chain management courses, where the students will study the potential business and technical ramifications of RFID deployments, and the issues they raise.

So far about 80 MBA students and 175 undergraduate students have used the RFID lab this year, and the school says that eventually RFID will be a part of the core of classes that all Kelley undergraduates must complete in order to graduate.

The other winners of the P&G Fund Curriculum Development Grant Program this year were Clarkson University, for its Multidisciplinary Projects course in virtual product development, and the University of Virginia, for its Investing in a Sustainable Future course.
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Mike Delbusto 2005-04-15 03:26:48 PM
RFID Research Centers University of Arkansas RFID Research Center...it is light years ahead of Indiana.

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