December 22, 2017 at 11:15am
Dane Lisser

Podeschi among 100 recipients nationwide to receive award

RJ Podeschi, assistant professor of information systems at Millikin University, was recently awarded the Love of Learning Award worth $500 presented by Phi Kappa Phi, the nation's oldest and most selective collegiate honor society for all academic disciplines. Podeschi is one of 100 recipients nationwide to receive the award.

Awarded twice a year, the Love of Learning Awards are designed to help fund post-baccalaureate professional development for active Phi Kappa Phi members including graduate or professional studies, doctoral dissertations, continuing education, career development, travel related to teaching, research, learning and more.

Podeschi will utilize the funds from the award to support research and construction of radio frequency identification-enabled (RFID) kits using Raspberry Pi computers to provide hands-on opportunities for students to learn how technology affects brand loyalty in systems like Walt Disney World's MagicBand system.

"I was delighted to learn that I was one of the 100 recipients nationwide for the Love of Learning grants awarded through Phi Kappa Phi," Podeschi said. "The organization's mission is to promote lifelong learning. After becoming a member, I learned of the many opportunities Phi Kappa Phi has for scholarships and grants for active members, comprised of undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and professionals."

Podeschi says the award will help advance his research of bringing concepts of radio frequency identification into the classroom in an experiential setting.

"RFID is the technology we see on a daily basis in objects like I-Pass toll readers, card entry into buildings, running a timed 5K, and using a Disney MagicBand," Podeschi said. "Although there are limitless applications for RFID, students typically learn about how RFID can increase operational efficiencies through reading and watching YouTube videos. Having a low-cost hands-on system for students to experiment and innovate will deepen their understanding of its importance in the business world."

Raspberry Pi computers are system-on-a-chip motherboards initially developed to bring low-cost computing to undeveloped areas.

"The technology has now spread to hobbyists and education to teach computing fundamentals," Podeschi said. "Like tiny microcomputers, they have their own Linux operating system and can be programmed to be security systems or even robots."

Having a low-cost hands-on system for students to experiment and innovate will deepen their understanding of its importance in the business world.

Walt Disney World launched their $1 billion investment in RFID technology in 2013 to revolutionize the theme park experience through their MagicBand system. Guests can use a waterproof wristband to gain access to the parks, utilize FastPasses for popular attractions, and use as keyless entry into Disney resort rooms.

Podeschi, along with Dr. Carrie Trimble, associate professor of marketing at Millikin, are working together on building RFID lab kits to further their work on a Brand Loyalty Experience course where students learn how technology affects the way consumers experience and re-engage in a brand.

"This grant will ultimately provide funding to develop these lab kits for use in the class for students to mimic the MagicBand experience on campus prior to traveling to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., in January 2019," Podeschi said.

RJ Podeschi

Podeschi was initiated into Phi Kappa Phi in 2016. The selection process for the Love of Learning Award is based on the applicant's academic achievement, campus and community service, intended use of award funds as it relates to academic and career goals, and a personal statement.

Established in 2007, the Love of Learning Program gives 200 awards annually. The Society awards $1.4 million each biennium to qualifying students and members through study abroad grants, graduate fellowships, member and chapter awards, and grants for local, national and international literacy initiatives.

About Phi Kappa Phi

Founded in 1897, Phi Kappa Phi is the nation's oldest and most selective collegiate honor society for all academic disciplines. Phi Kappa Phi inducts annually approximately 30,000 students, faculty, professional staff and alumni. The Society has chapters at more than 300 select colleges and universities in North America and the Philippines. Membership is by invitation only to the top 10 percent of seniors and graduate students and 7.5 percent of juniors. Faculty, professional staff and alumni who have achieved scholarly distinction also qualify. For more information about Phi Kappa Phi, visit phikappaphi.org