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3D Visualization-assisted Electromagnetic Theory Teaching

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

Course Transformation in ECE

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

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Paper Authors


Enrique José González-Carvajal University of South Florida Orcid 16x16

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Enrique González was born in Valencia, Venezuela, in 1987. He received his B.Sc. degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Carabobo, Naguanagua, VE, in 2012 and his M.Sc. in 2018 from the University of South Florida. He was an Instructor in the topics of Optical Communications and Guided Waves Systems Laboratory at his Alma Mater until the end of 2014, when he joined the University of South Florida. He is currently pursuing his Ph.D. degree conducting research within the group of Dr. Gokhan Mumcu. His research focus is on the realization of RF reconfigurable devices by using microfluidic technology, specifically filters, RF switches, antenna elements and antenna arrays. He has also developed around fifteen 3D visualizations for enhancing and complementing the teaching of electromagnetic theory in undergraduate courses. The visualizations cover topics of Vector Algebra, Vector Calculus and Electromagnetic Field Theory, Electrostatics and Time-Varying Fields through different interactive animations that can be displayed on 3D-enabled screens.

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Gokhan Mumcu University of South Florida

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Gokhan Mumcu was born in Bursa, Turkey, on March 30, 1982. He received the B.S. degree in electrical engineering from Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey, in 2003, and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical and computer engineering from The Ohio State University, Columbus, in 2005 and 2008, respectively.
He is currently an Associate Professor at the Electrical Engineering Department of University of South Florida, Tampa, FL. From 2009 to 2015, he was an Assistant Professor at the Electrical Engineering Department of University of South Florida. His research interests are small antennas, engineered materials, THz technologies, and reconfigurable RF devices, antennas and arrays using microfluidic reconfiguration techniques.
Dr. Mumcu is the recipient of the 2014 CAREER award from the U.S. National Science Foundation. He is also recipient of 2014 faculty outstanding research award from the University of South Florida. He ranked first on the national university entrance exam taken annually by over 1.5 million Turkish students in 1999. He received the 1999 international education fellowship of the Turkish Ministry of Education. He was the recipient of a best paper award at 2008 URSI National Radio Science Meeting, and the 2008 outstanding dissertation award at The Ohio State University, ElectroScience Laboratory. He served as the technical program committee co-chair of the 2013 IEEE International Symposium on Antennas and Propagation and USNC/URSI National Radio Science Meeting and 2016 International Workshop on Antenna Technology (iWAT).

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Electromagnetic (EM) theory education is based on an understanding of numerous mathematical/geometrical operations and their relationships with the physical phenomena. Student success rates in EM education typically get impacted negatively due to a) lack of understanding in the mathematical/geometrical operations and b) establishing the link between mathematical/geometrical operations and the physical phenomena [1].This paper describes a new teaching technique applied at the University of South Florida (USF) for EM theory education. The technique relies on 3D visualizations that demonstrate the link between the mathematical/geometrical operations and the physical phenomena. The 3D visualization demonstrations are made bi-weekly at the USF’s Advanced Visualization Center (AVC) that hosts “the visualization wall” consisting of 16 high-resolution stereoscopic 3D monitors. Viewers of the visualization wall wear glasses with polarized lenses to observe the presented display data in 3D. This is similar to the 3D movie theater experiences, however, the scenes are not pre-recorded but rendered in real-time – allowing the instructor to make changes in the display data on demand based on student input and lecture needs. This is accomplished thanks to the development of customized/parametrized codes.

The 3D visualizations that are presented to the students are on a broad list of topics ranging from meaning of vectors and basics of vector algebra to the applications of vector calculus in EM phenomena (such as electrostatic fields around charged particles, time-varying fields, and plane waves). Specific aims of the planned full paper will be to present 1) the techniques employed in creation of 3D visualizations (e.g. Python codes, interacting the codes with the Autodesk Maya software of the visualization wall, creation of instructor graphical user interface (GUI) for real-time interaction); 2) GUI and user scene examples from the developed 3D visualizations; 3) initial survey data collected from students demonstrating their perspectives on this EM theory teaching technique; and 4) a discussion on extending instructional functionalities and visualization preparation capabilities by developing new codes that interface commercially available EM simulation tools with the software/hardware of the visualization wall. Our literature survey shows that 3D visualization assisted teaching has been proposed for various fields such as anatomy [2]. However, there are not examples of 3D visualization assisted teaching methods for EM theory. Computer visualization teaching techniques described for EM theory in literature are actually limited to traditional 2D viewing settings (such as MATLAB codes demonstrating EM waves [3] and web-based applications that present concepts such as magnetic fields [4]). Therefore, we believe that the full paper version of this abstract and the following ASEE conference presentation are going to provide a valuable contribution for EM theory education by introducing a novel teaching strategy.

[1] M. N. O. Sadiku, "Problems Faced by Undergraduates Studying Electromagnetics," IEEE Transactions on Education, vol. E-29, no. 1, pp. 31-32, 1986. [2] R. Ferdig, J. Blank, A. Kratcoski, and R. Clements, "Using stereoscopy to teach complex biological concepts," Advances in Physiology Education, vol. 39, no. 3, pp. 205-208, 2015. [3] T. Hirano and J. Hirokawa, "Education materials of electricity and magnetism using MATLAB," in 2017 IEEE International Symposium on Radio-Frequency Integration Technology (RFIT), 2017, pp. 16-18. [4] Y. J. Dori and J. Belcher, "Learning Electromagnetism with Visualizations and Active Learning," in Visualization in Science Education, J. K. Gilbert, Ed. Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands, 2005, pp. 187-216.

González-Carvajal, E. J., & Mumcu, G. (2019, June), 3D Visualization-assisted Electromagnetic Theory Teaching Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--31940

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