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Undergraduate Research: Novel Integration Of Pdas, Gps And Bar Code Scanner Via An Embedded Visual Basic Program For A Utility Asset Management System

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Portable/Embedded Computing I

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.1340.1 - 9.1340.10



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Paper Authors

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Jeffrey Tisa

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Greg Garwood

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Peter Jansson

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Undergraduate Research: Novel Integration of PDAs, GPS and Bar Code Scanner via an Embedded Visual Basic Program for a Utility Asset Management System

Peter Mark Jansson, Jeffrey Tisa, Gregory Garwood

Rowan University


Undergraduates in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department of Rowan University have undertaken innovative software research and system integration for the electric utility clients of its Engineering Clinic Program. In this innovative classroom / laboratory course, the problem students set out to solve was the development of an integrated software / hardware system to enable the cost-effective asset management of utility equipment in the field (poles, streetlights, switchgear, etc.). The choice of technology included a handheld PDA, a Bluetooth-based global positioning system (GPS) receiver and a generic barcode scanner. The challenge was to develop customizable Embedded Visual Basic (eVB) code that would enable any utility personnel to establish equipment location in the field or be directed to any piece of equipment that had been previously located by employing the device in their utility vehicle. Portability, low-cost and customizable graphical user interfaces were criteria for adoption by the companies and the project has resulted in a very affordable smart PDA, that can simultaneously scan a barcode, establish the GPS coordinates in a database and record other important utility information. The device has the capability to also serve as a locator system to lead any utility personnel unfamiliar with parts of the service area to any specific piece of field equipment that has been placed into the system database. This becomes more important to the maintenance of operational efficiency and rapid service restoration as utilities merge and take-over previously unfamiliar regions of service. The integration of the three devices via a single eVB program is an innovation that significantly reduces the cost, complexity and affordability of performing asset management for remote and dispersed equipment. It is also a curricular innovation to provide students with such a cutting edge research opportunity that has immediate commercial application for its clients. The undergraduate students work with their professor to provide the deliverable to the clients in this course and regularly provide status reports and demonstrations of progress to the client to assure that the work will meet specification when completed.

Project Background

Rowan University College of Engineering has a unique engineering clinic sequence that

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Tisa, J., & Garwood, G., & Jansson, P. (2004, June), Undergraduate Research: Novel Integration Of Pdas, Gps And Bar Code Scanner Via An Embedded Visual Basic Program For A Utility Asset Management System Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13373

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