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Development of a Low-cost, Low-voltage Three-phase Power Synthesizer for Use in Motor and Systems Experiments

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Division Experimentation & Lab-oriented Studies: Electrical and Computer Engineering Labs

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.522.1 - 26.522.10



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Paper Authors


Kathleen Teresa McGuire

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Kathleen T. McGuire is a senior electrical engineering major at the University of San Diego. She is graduating in May and has plans to work for Freescale Semiconductor in Austin, Texas starting this summer. She is part of several engineering honors societies such as Tau Beta Pi and Tau Eta Nu, as well as several other clubs on campus. She is interested in semiconductors and embedded systems.

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Jessica Urbano

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Jessica L. Urbano is a Spring 2015 graduate of the University of San Diego with a dual BA/BS degree in electrical engineering. During her years as an undergrad she participated in several research projects covering topics such as creativity in engineering, a vehicle health diagnostic system, and three-phase power generation. Jessica has always been involved in mentoring younger students and outreach in STEM. As the vice president of SWE and the recording secretary of Tau Beta Pi she was exposed to multiple opportunities within engineering for outreach and involvement. She is entering industry following graduation.

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Frank G Jacobitz University of San Diego

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Frank G. Jacobitz was born in Göttingen, Germany, in 1968. He received the
Diploma in physics from Georg-August Universität, Göttingen, Germany, in
1993, and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in mechanical engineering from the University
of California, San Diego, La Jolla, in 1995 and 1998, respectively.
He has been with the University of San Diego, San Diego, CA, since 2003,
where he is currently a Professor of mechanical engineering. From 1998 to 2003,
he was an Assistant Professor of mechanical engineering with the University of
California, Riverside. He has also been a visitor with the Centre National de la
Recherche Scientifique at Aix-Marseille Université in Marseille, France. His
research interests include direct numerical simulations of turbulent flows with
shear, rotation, and stratification, as well as bio-fluid mechanical problems at
the microscale.
Prof. Jacobitz is a Member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers
(ASME), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS),
the American Physical Society (APS), the European Mechanics Society (EUROMECH),
and the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft (DPG). He currently
serves as the faculty advisor to the student section of the ASME at the University
of San Diego and the President Elect of the Pacific Division of the AAAS. He
received the Outstanding Engineering Educator Award from the San Diego
County Engineering Council in 2008, the Faculty of the Year Award from the
Zeta Omega Chapter of Beta Theta Pi Fraternity in 2013, the Outstanding
Undergraduate Research Mentor Award from the University of San Diego in
2014, and Best Paper Awards from the Division of Experimentation and
Laboratory Oriented Studies of the American Society for Engineering Education
in 2008 and 2014.

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Ernest M. Kim University of San Diego

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Ernie Kim received his BSEE from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and MSEE and PhD in Electrical Engineering from New Mexico State University. He has been an electronics engineer at the National Bureau of Standards (now NIST) at the Boulder CO labs where he performed research on precision optical fiber metrology, staff engineer with the Advanced Systems Group of Burroughs Corporation, Manager of Electro-Optics at Ipitek Corporation where he developed early fiber optic CATV systems. Dr. Kim has worked at a number of start-up companies in fiber optic transmission including All Optical Networks, and Lightwave Solutions in San Diego. He joined the University of San Diego Department of Electrical Engineering in 1990. Dr. Kim is a licensed Professional Engineer (EE), and regularly teaches FE and PE exam review courses.

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Thomas F. Schubert Jr. P.E. University of San Diego

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Thomas F. Schubert, Jr. received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from the University of California, Irvine. He is currently a Professor of electrical engineering at the University of San Diego, San Diego, CA and came there as a founding member of the engineering faculty in 1987. He previously served on the electrical engineering faculty at the University of Portland, and Portland State University, and on the engineering staff at Hughes Aircraft Company. Prof. Schubert is a member of ASEE and IEEE and is a registered professional engineer in Oregon. He is the 2012 winner of the ASEE Robert G. Quinn award for excellence in engineering education.

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Development of a Low-Cost, Low-Voltage Three-Phase Power Synthesizer for Use in Motor andSystems ExperimentsThe electrical engineering program at the University of XXX has revised its curricular treatmentof electrical power and electrical machines at several levels and for students in all engineeringmajors. Included in that change was a decision to limit students’ first exposure to three-phasesystems to voltage levels less than 25V and power levels less than 5W. Cost, safety, and thedesire to have a meaningful three-phase laboratory experience for students who have minimalknowledge of the subject were the major factors in making that decision. Another driving factorwas the availability of low-voltage three-phase motors commercially available at very low-cost(under $10), but disguised as three-phase generators in a variety of “green” consumer products.Several years ago, three initial synthesizers were prototyped using discrete digital componentsand tested, with positive results, on sophomore students in diverse engineering majors.Unfortunately, none of the prototypes were, at that time, developed into practical, stand-alonedevices.The project was reinitialized this year with the purpose of developing a practical, stand-alonethree-phase power synthesizer that could be dispersed throughout the educational community atlow cost. A team has designed such a unit and is assessing its usage in a sophomore circuitslaboratory setting as well as by junior-level electrical engineering students in an electrical powercourse. Assessment results, and a full design description of the unit are presented here.

McGuire, K. T., & Urbano, J., & Jacobitz, F. G., & Kim, E. M., & Schubert, T. F. (2015, June), Development of a Low-cost, Low-voltage Three-phase Power Synthesizer for Use in Motor and Systems Experiments Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23861

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