May 17th, 2004 @ 4:44 pm | Author:
VCSU Seniors Develop Propane Tracking System
Two college seniors from Valley City State University developed a key software application for Dakota Plains Corporation (a Cenex dealer) that the company uses to manage its operations more effectively.

The seniors, Clint Johnson (Hazen, ND) and Brett Christiansen (Glenfield, ND) developed the system in conjunction with their senior capstone project in computer information systems. These projects are an opportunity for students to apply the accumulation of all the knowledge they have acquired throughout their VCSU education on a real-life project using a collaborative, team-oriented approach. Other organizations for which VCSU students have conducted similar projects include the Valley City Parks and Recreation Department and various other individual businesses in Valley City. Rick Ross, the Chair of the VCSU Business Division, said, “These organizations in our community support our capstone projects as part of real life experience for our students.”

Johnson and Christiansen began their project in December of 2003 by applying a model of systems design they learned at VCSU. The project included an analysis of systems already in place, a needs analysis to determine new system requirements, a rough system design, final system design, testing and implementation. The system uses PHP programming to provide a web-based interface to an Access database.

The system tracks important information on the company’s propane customers, their propane tanks and equipment. This information includes the description and location of customer tanks, the documentation of all service work performed on the tank and the propane system, and the age of pressure regulators. The program also includes alerts that automatically bring up dates that regulators would need to be replaced based on age, when the system pressure tests would need to be performed, and anniversaries of tank leases.

Mark Becker, Petroleum Specialist with Dakota Plains Corporation, said, “With this propane tracking program, we can do a much more professional job of managing our propane business, which will save our company money. I enjoyed working with these young men and would thoroughly recommend their abilities and services.”