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Board # 51 : WIP: Introducing MATLAB-based Instruction and Learning in the Creativity Thread of a Novel Integrated Approach to ECE Education

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Electrical and Computer Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

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Paper Authors


Branislav M. Notaros Colorado State University

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Branislav M. Notaros is Professor and University Distinguished Teaching Scholar in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Colorado State University, where he also is Director of Electromagnetics Laboratory. His research publications in computational and applied electromagnetics include more than 180 journal and conference papers. He is the author of textbooks Electromagnetics (2010) and MATLAB-Based Electromagnetics (2013), both with Pearson Prentice Hall, as well as Conceptual Electromagnetics (2016) with CRC Press (in print). He was the recipient of the 1999 IEE Marconi Premium, 2005 IEEE Microwave Prize, IEEE Fellow Award (2016), 2005 UMass Dartmouth Scholar of the Year Award, 2012 Colorado State University System Board of Governors Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award, 2012 IEEE Region 5 Outstanding Engineering Educator Award, 2014 Carnegie Foundation and CASE USPOY Colorado Professor of the Year Award, 2015 ASEE ECE Distinguished Educator Award, 2015 IEEE Undergraduate Teaching Award, and many other research and teaching/education awards. (for more info, see:

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Ryan McCullough Colorado State University

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Ryan McCullough is a B.S./M.S. student in Electrical Engineering at Colorado State University. He currently has a B.Ed. from the University of Toledo and worked as a teacher for five years before returning to get a degree in electrical engineering in 2014. He is working as a research assistant in both engineering education and MRI RF coil design.

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Sanja B. Manic Colorado State University

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Sanja graduated with bachelor's degree from the University of Belgrade, Serbia in 2010, and is currently a graduate student at Colorado State University. Her interests are Numerical methods in Applied Electromagnetics and Antenna design.

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Anthony A. Maciejewski Colorado State University

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Anthony A. Maciejewski received the BS, MS, and PhD degrees in electrical engineering from Ohio State University, Columbus in 1982, 1984, and 1987, respectively. From 1988 to 2001, he was a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue University, West Lafayette. He is currently a professor and head of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Colorado State University. He is a fellow of IEEE. A complete vita is available at: ~aam.

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Charged by the National Science Foundation with revolutionizing engineering and computer science education and departments, a diverse team of educators has been implementing changes that reimagine the roles of the faculty, moving away from teaching courses in isolation to an integrated, collaborative structure. Key faculty leaders are assigned as “Thread Champions” to interweave Foundations, Creativity, and Professional Formation threads throughout the program, while working with fellow faculty to continue fostering deep knowledge of the discipline and with “Integration Specialists” to synthesize content and illustrate how fundamental concepts are interrelated. These efforts span the entire undergraduate experience, with special attention to the critical technical core of the junior year.

Creativity thread is intended to integrate research, design, and optimization tools throughout the undergraduate experience, with an aim toward real-world engineering applications. Within this thread, we consider MATLAB as one of the most essential tools that all ECE students and future engineers should be able to use effectively. MATLAB® (by MathWorks, Inc.) is chosen not only for its very high quality and versatility, but because it represents a generally accepted standard in science and engineering education worldwide.

This paper presents inclusion of MATLAB-based instruction and learning in the electromagnetics course and learning studio modules (LSMs), where the students are implementing the core LSM concepts they learned into a “virtual electromagnetics testbed” using MATLAB, as part of the Creativity thread. The students are taught “hands on” electromagnetics through a unique and comprehensive collection of MATLAB computer exercises and projects. Essentially, they are learning MATLAB in the context of electromagnetics and learning electromagnetics in the context of MATLAB. Moreover, this approach actively challenges and involves the student, providing additional, prolonged benefits of learning as compared to a passive computer demonstration. By creating and/or running codes; generating results, figures, and diagrams; playing movies and animations; and solving problems in MATLAB students gain a stronger intuition and deeper understanding of electromagnetics, one of the most difficult subjects, primarily because it is extremely abstract. On the other side, these diverse MATLAB projects and exercises allow students to gain comprehensive and operational knowledge and skills in concepts and techniques of MATLAB use and programming, which can then be used effectively and implemented in other areas of study, including other courses in the curriculum.

In “Creativity” class sessions, students are given MATLAB tutorials, with ample discussions of approaches, programming strategies, MATLAB formalities, and alternatives. This is followed by comprehensive and rather challenging multi-week homework assignments of MATLAB problems and projects in electromagnetics. In addition, students are specifically asked to redo some of their conventional “by hand” computational problems they had for homework now using MATLAB and to thus experience firsthand the power and utility of MATLAB-based analysis and computation. In general, solving the problems and studying the topics both analytically and using MATLAB is most beneficial. We plan to expand the scope of “Creativity” MATLAB class sessions and the use of MATLAB to many more topics in electromagnetics classes, and to develop adequate assessment instruments for this approach.

Notaros, B. M., & McCullough, R., & Manic, S. B., & Maciejewski, A. A. (2017, June), Board # 51 : WIP: Introducing MATLAB-based Instruction and Learning in the Creativity Thread of a Novel Integrated Approach to ECE Education Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--27872

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