Students Develop Transit Tracker

May 13, 2020

The technology can be used to determine when a Vulcan Flyer is due to arrive.

Four seniors completed a two-semester capstone project in computer science and computer engineering technology that could help relieve “wait anxiety” — the anticipation students feel when they are waiting for a bus to arrive. 

Michael Gorse, Anthony Carrola, Paul Maclean and Robert Breckenridge completed the Vulcan Transit Tracker senior project for Dr. Weifeng Chen’s class. 

The students created a tracking unit that uses a micro-controller, GPS and a cellular module to estimate the time a bus will arrive at a stop. The tracker displays the entire bus route and stops along the way.

Vulcan Flyers provide service to Cal U’s upper and main campuses and to the Walmart in nearby Brownsville, Pa. 

“Through this project, these students practiced applying knowledge they learned from the CSC and CET programs to solve real-life problems,” Chen said. “The group went through the whole software development lifecycle, starting from obtaining requirements, developing specifications, designing systems and implementing applications. 

“The process of completing this project well prepares the students to be deployed to the software development industry and demonstrates their intelligence and hands-on skills.” 

GG&C Bus Company, owner of the Vulcan Flyers, provided funds to manufacture a prototype that can be tested on the vehicles. 

“What they have created is truly innovative: an affordable tracking system designed specifically for university shuttle systems,” said Chris Johnston, director of Ca U’s Department of Parking and Transportation.  

“If this concept can work, there are many university-based shuttle systems looking for this exact cost-effective solution. It has real-world impact.” 

It was a valuable learning experience for the group as they familiarized themselves with Google Maps application programming interface (API), Google Matrix API, cascading style sheets and more. 

“We were able to work with some technologies that we had not worked with previously that are helpful to know if any of us would go into industry,” Gorse said. “It was absolutely an interesting project and hopefully will be something that benefits Cal U.” 

Johnston, who directed public transportation research for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania before coming to Cal U, said he is very impressed with what he called four “very talented Cal U students.”

“I wanted to explore how to turn a very innovative and cost-effective concept from theory to practical application,” he said. “To me this is a win-win and could provide an expanded learning experience for the group. 

“I see it as a solution designed specifically for our needs.”