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Student Project to Be Used Daily in New College Facility

Bradley S. Galloway, left, and Eric A. Maschuck with components of the inventory-management system they developed for the electronics and computer engineering technology department%E2%80%99s toolroom at Penn College.When Pennsylvania College of Technology’s electronics and computer engineering technology department moves into a new building − the Center for Business and Workforce Development on West Fourth Street in Williamsport − it will take with it a student-designed system meant to simplify the task of tracking the equipment students must borrow to complete projects.

Bradley S. Galloway, of York, and Eric A. Maschuck, of Paxinos, together have spent nearly 1,000 hours developing a computer-based inventory-management system for the electronics and computer engineering technology department’s toolroom.

The toolroom contains more than 2,000 unique parts that are used by students taking electronics and computer engineering technology courses, each of which a student requests as needed from the toolroom attendant. When the new system is implemented, the attendant will have an automatic record of the equipment borrowed from the toolroom.

“It provides increased reliability, reduced cost, reduced errors, and it reduces lost components,” Galloway said.

When the new system is implemented, a student who wishes to use a piece of equipment will scan his or her student ID card, and the toolroom attendant will use a hand-held computer to scan a bar code attached to the item.

The transaction results in a log of who signed out which parts.

“Before, we didn’t have that, so there wasn’t a lot of reliability,” Galloway said.

In addition to the toolroom attendant being able to track where parts are, the new system is designed to allow students to log into a Web site that shows them a list of equipment they have signed out. This could help them avoid receiving a hold on their grades at the end of the semester if components are not returned. Students can also use the site to see whether a part they need is available.

“It takes a complicated process, puts it all together and makes it simple,” Galloway said.

In addition to making better records of the 100 to 200 daily toolroom transactions, the system simplifies other “old processes,” Galloway said.

One of those is taking inventory in each of the department’s eight laboratories, which currently involves making a handwritten list. Galloway said that, when the new system is implemented, by using the bar-code scanner, the process that now takes two to three days should take just two to three hours.

There is also no current tracking for how many consumable parts have been used, but by recording this information, the new inventory-management system will allow the department to estimate an order for an entire semester or academic year, saving on shipping costs and reducing bulk storage.

The inventory-management system was created as a senior project for the two students, a requirement for graduation with a bachelor’s degree in electronics and computer engineering technology. To accomplish their goals, Galloway and Maschuck created a database of the items − including a bar code number, price, and part number from the vendor − as well as information for the department’s students.

They mastered five programming languages and techniques that they didn’t know much about before and programmed the system for wireless data transmission. They also programmed the student ID card scanner and the hand-held computer, created computer-based forms that will allow future users to add and change information in the database, and built the student Web site.

Both students plan to graduate with bachelor’s degrees in May, not long before the toolroom and system will move to the new building. The students are spending the remainder of the semester testing the system in the current toolroom and writing a user’s manual.

While some senior projects are more experimental in nature, Galloway said knowing their senior project is expected to be used for years to come added several challenges.

“If we don’t get it done, they won’t have an inventory-management system in the new building,” he said.

This helped reinforce time-management skills for the two-man team, who say the system “can be expanded infinitely” by future students. They narrowed their own ideas to those that were most important and could be completed in one semester.

Creating a system that will be used daily also presented the challenges of choosing which technology to use; making sure the system does not just work, but will be more efficient than the current practice; and anticipating potential problems.

“One of the really difficult things is thinking of what they’re going to need in the future,” Galloway said.

The students believe that, after spending more than 25 hours a week on the project, they have been successful. Galloway said he finds the long hours of problem-solving worth it.

Seeing how something he created has helped a person or a company/institution is one of the things he loves about electronics engineering technology.

“My motivation throughout this project is that this is going to be used for the next five to 10 years by everyone in the department,” he said.

Both Maschuck and Galloway have jobs lined up following graduation. Maschuck plans to work for Nestle Purina PetCare Co. in Mechanicsburg as a control technician, and Galloway is set to take an electronics engineer position at AAI Corp. in Maryland, which, makes unmanned military airplanes, among other products.

“It was a really big learning experience,” Galloway said. “Electronics engineering technologists take one process and make it more efficient, and they make it better, and that’s exactly what this project does.”

The dean of the School of Industrial and Engineering Technologies, Lawrence J. Fryda, recognizes the senior project as representative of the challenges that graduates of the program will encounter on their jobs.

“Brad and Eric have implemented a design that combines state-of-the-art technology with a specific need and have done so in a cost-effective and efficient manner − exactly what will be expected of them in their new careers,” he said.

For more information about the academic programs offered by the School of Industrial and Engineering Technologies at Penn College, call (570) 327-4520 or visit online .

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