If youre fingered entering the Stansbury Fitness and Wellness Center at West Virginia University, dont be alarmed.

Youre just being authenticated by a new biometric identification system that is the brainchild of the WVU School of Physical Education and College of Engineering and Mineral Resources.

Nancy Naternicola, School of Physical Education fitness director, approached the engineering college during the spring semester about developing the unique biometric system at the center. Five engineering students accepted the challenge for their senior design project.

The system, called the Biometric Fitness Club Membership, is a computer software program. Students Steven Bright of Sutton; Jeff Zemerick of Oak Hill; Matthew Brown of Princeton; Mickey Mitchell of Man; and Steven Shearer of New Cumberland, Pa., designed the program under the direction of Brian Woerner, chairman of the Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. It was installed for use at the center this semester.

Biometric systems use human physiological traits such as fingerprints, faces, irises, retinas, voice and neural signals to identify individuals.

The biometric system at Stansbury scans membersfingers as they enter the facility. The system compares fingerprint templates to a stored template collected upon enrollment to authenticate members.

It also collects membersinformation, including a log of visits and demographic information, and stores it in a database. Only the administrator has access to this information, ensuring the system is in compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Assurance Act for client privacy. The screen projects membersnames and expiration dates only, and the data are not online.

Previously the fitness center used laminated membership cards, which can easily be lost, duplicated, altered or given to nonmembers. All necessary record-keeping was done by hand.

I am continually amazed at the talent of our students at WVU ,Naternicola said.The Biometric Fitness Club Membership saves time, paper and money and is easily used by fitness center staff with minimal training. Members dont have to carry a card, and entry to the fitness center takes seconds.

They will no longer have to fill out registration forms every time they renew their membership,she added.The engineering students were able to give me everything on my wish list that is needed for managing a fitness center membership.