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Electric & Magnetic Fields, Transmission Lines First?

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

ECE Poster Session

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.523.1 - 11.523.10



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Paper Authors

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S. Hossein Mousavinezhad Western Michigan University

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Electric & Magnetic Fields, Transmission Lines First?


Many schools offer at least one required course in electrical engineering curriculum on electromagnetics (E&M). At Western Michigan University, a junior level course has been offered for a number of years. A few years ago, the topical coverage of course materials was re-designed so that students are introduced to transmission lines (an important application area) first before devoting time to cover such topics as electrostatics and magnetostatics. The author started teaching the course for the first time in Fall 2005 using a new textbook. There are pros/cons of covering applications areas (such as transmission lines) before a discussion of electric and magnetic fields (both static and dynamic.) There are recent textbooks that introduce transmission lines first. Because of the importance of wireless communications and antenna technology, there has been discussion among engineering educators that the subject of E&M is a fundamental area of study for all electrical engineering and perhaps computer engineering majors. So the question becomes how many E&M courses are needed? Most schools are offering one undergraduate course in this important area and perhaps a second elective course.


At our university for a number of years we have offered a junior-level course, ECE 3610, Electromagnetic (E&M) Fields, 4 credit (semester) hours. Most students are electrical engineering (EE) majors but some computer engineer majors have expressed interest in the course. At the present time ECE 3610 is required for EE majors only. In Attachment 1 we present a more detailed description of the course including topics and learning outcomes. ECE 3610 has been offered previously with transmission lines first emphasis. We note that transmission lines are only one application area of the powerful subject of electromagnetics and we believe that it should be a requirement for all engineering majors, especially electrical/computer engineering, as is college physics. Other applications include waveguides, antennas, and microwave engineering. These applications are as critical as transmission lines, especially with the widespread use of wireless communications and smart antennas. The textbook by Schwarz was used for a number of years before changing to a new textbook in Fall 2005.

In addition to Schwarz’s book3, other books which use transmission lines first approach, include “Applied Electromagnetics” (Prentice Hall) by Dr. Ulaby of the University of Michigan. Another book is “Dynamic Electromagnetics” by Dr. Diament of the Columbia University. This book has a few chapters first but they do start with transmission lines before covering other application areas. One concern with transmission lines first approach is that students may not have a good feeling for vector quantities of electric and magnetic fields. There may have to be some coverage of basic wave concepts and vector fields before covering transmission lines. This will change the topical coverage slightly but will prepare students better to understand wave equations and other concepts associated with the transmission lines.

Mousavinezhad, S. H. (2006, June), Electric & Magnetic Fields, Transmission Lines First? Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--727

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