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RFID Classes Hit Business Schools

At the University of California Irvine Extension, five courses totaling 150 hours are required to complete the program.
But few universities have certificate or degree programs. It's more common for them to offer classes within an engineering program or have graduate students work on research projects with technology vendors such as Sun Microsystems Inc., or customers like Wal-Mart Stores Inc. collaborating with University of Arkansas. "Compared with the technology, little emphasis has been placed on business processes," said Jeff Woods, Gartner analyst. "It turns out business processes are the more important component to a project."

Each UCI Extension class will cost between $500 and $600, depending on the associated costs for lab work. A few other California campuses have considered offering courses in RFID, but not certificate programs. "The fact several campuses such as UCLA and Berkley were looking at it suggests that this is a topic of interest," Stefan said.

The way most companies gauge progress is the technical success. There have been technology hurtles along the way, but really for the most part have not prevented rapid expansion. If anything's slowing adoption is more that most people can't figure out what to do with the information they collect from readers to improve their business processes, Woods said.

UCI Extension also is offering a seminar on Nov. 10, where advisory committee member will bring tags and readers to demonstrate the technology. Members, include executives from ADC Telecommunications, Avery Dennison, ClickCommerce, Impinj, IntelligentSystems, Printronix and SAMSys. All are located fairly close to the Irvine, Calif. campus.

Corporations are spurring on the attention by universities in RFID technology. "It's at the request of major corporations near campuses that have a vested interest in the technology," said AMR analyst Dennis Gaughan. Course work for RFID is "more technology focused today because they are trying to accelerate the maturation of the technology."