June 15, 2014
June 15, 2014
June 18, 2014
24.176.1 - 24.176.15
An Undergraduate Course in Military Electronic Applications, aka Electronic WarfareAn applications course can be a fun and interesting way to learn about an engineering discipline.The author, who has 28 years of combined active and reserve service with the United States AirForce, created a course with a focus on what the military calls electronic warfare (EW): usingthe electromagnetic spectrum for our advantage, preserving its use for friendly forces, andpreventing the enemy from doing the same. During the course, his students explored severalgenerally-applicable topics, including various types of radio frequency (RF) propagation, high-frequency PCB layout, and antenna analysis and design. They also studied several moremilitarily-focused topics, including different types of military systems used in EW, processingissues with EW signals, searching for RF transmissions, and locating hostile emitters.It is an upper-division course with an associated lab, and the author took an intentionallyaggressive approach to the labs, pushing the limits of the available test equipment and facilities.As might be expected, this approach resulted in several “failures” during lab experiments, butalso succeeded in pinpointing a number of issues to be addressed in future offerings of thecourse, and gave the students an opportunity to perform experiments that were not set up aheadof time to “guarantee” a specific outcome.The course has now been delivered twice. Although the lecture portion remained largelyunchanged between the two offerings, the lab was totally overhauled. The labs were changed tofocus on a theme of defending against radio-controlled improvised explosive devices (IEDs).The result of this change was a substantial increase in enthusiasm and engagement for the labportion of the course.This paper begins with an overview of the course, including lecture topics and laboratoryexperiments for the first offering. It then discusses the limitations in terms of test equipment andfacilities, how some of the limitations were overcome during the course while others were not,and how those limitations were dealt with in the second iteration. Both the successes andfailures/lessons learned are presented, along with some of the author’s observations of hisstudents, and suggestions for even further improvements in future offerings of the course.
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