Course Description

This course is centered on how RFID systems will transform the business landscape, with a particular emphasis on the supply chain. The course will take an interdisciplinary approach to analyzing the various aspects of a modern RFID system. Lectures will review technical components of RFID systems, supply chain management process analysis, value and productivity performance measurement of IT investments, legal, policy and regulatory aspects of auto-identification and the impact of RFID on business strategy. By the end of this course students will have a detailed understanding of the important components of an RFID system, and how it interacts with most aspects of a business, from logistics to finance, strategy and IT.

A key component of the course is a practical, hands-on project, The RFID Value Competition. This project will allow teams of students to build a physical RFID appliance. The goal of the project is to help students understand how the technology works, but also to focus their efforts on creating financial value with RFID.


There are no formal prerequisites for this class. There are however at least three reasons why you might choose not to take this class. Students not interested in understanding the various technical components of an RFID system including antennas, resistors, microprocessors, tags, etc. should not take this class. You don't need to understand these components in advance, but you do need to be willing to learn about them. Second, students not willing to do math should not take this class. Math is by no means the bulk of the work but we will ask you to compute matching capacitor values or plot polar field diagrams. Third, a key pedagogical piece of this class is a hands-on exercise where you will assemble an electronic system that has both radio frequency wireless communications and digital data exchange protocols.

Grading and Assignments

There will be six assignments for this course. Most assignments are team based, with one being individual. Students should form teams that consist of 3 or 4 people, and must keep the same team throughout the semester. Students should send an email to the TA with the names of their team members.

Assignment 1: Auto-ID Technologies I (Team) 5%
Assignment 2: Auto-ID Technologies II (Team) 5%
Assignment 3: Auto-ID Technologies III (Team) 5%
Assignment 4: RFID Appliance Kit Project (Team) 15%
Assignment 5: Auto-ID Policy and Strategy (Individual) 20%
Assignment 6: Final Paper and Presentation (Team) 30%
Class Participation 20%

The assignments make up 80% of a student's grade. The remaining 20% will come from class participation (e.g., class attendance, offering relevant comments in class). There is no final exam for this course.