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Enhancing Electromagnetics Instruction Using Matlab And Mathcad

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Innovations in ECE Education II

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.509.1 - 15.509.12

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Paper Authors


Stuart Wentworth Auburn University

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Stu Wentworth received his Electrical Engineering doctorate from the University of Texas, Austin, in 1990. Since then he has been with Auburn Universit⁹s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, specializing in electromagnetics and microelectronics. He has authored a pair of undergraduate electromagnetics texts, and has won several awards related to teaching. He is a long-standing member of his departmen⁴s curriculum and assessment committee.

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S. Hossein Mousavinezhad Idaho State University


Mani Mina Iowa State University

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Mani Mina is with the department of electrical and computer engineering at Iowa State University. He has teaching, research and industrial experience in the areas of instrumentation, system integration, and
design in the areas of Electromagnetic, nondestructive evaluation, physical layers, and portable systems. Currently, he is working on
challenges and innovations in teaching engineering and science at all levels of education system, issues of technological literacy and competency, as well as magneto-optics, optical and electromagnetic physical layer system considerations, testing and measurements, and related issues. He has been a recipient of several teaching and research awards. He is an active member of IEEE (magnetic and education societies), and American society for engineering education (ASEE).

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Wei PAN Idaho State University

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Pan, Wei, Ph.D., EECS Assistant Professor. Dr. Pan received her Ph.D. degree in Physical Electronic & Opto-electronic Engineering from Zhejiang University 1996. Her research interests include VLSI design, circuit & component testing, biomedical sensors, photonics, and optoelectronic components and systems. She worked for Siemens in Belgium, 2000-2002 and is on the membership committee of the IEEE Education Society. Dr. Pan is director of the ON-VLSI Laboratory, Idaho State University.

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

Enhancing Electromagnetics Instruction Using MATLAB and MATHCAD


MATLAB and MATHCAD can be very useful tools for use in electromagnetics courses. They can be used as demonstration tools to clarify important concepts, or for numerical analysis of problems that are difficult or impossible to solve analytically. MATLAB can serve as the students’ home laboratory, helping to develop their practical understanding of electromagnetics. MATHCAD, with its symbolic algebra system, is useful for analyzing complicated mathematical expressions and is ideal for subjects that deal with mathematical representations of real or complex functions. Examples show how these tools are used in undergraduate course from three universities.


Electromagnetics in electrical engineering is generally taught as a one or a two semester sequence in the junior year. Also, some computer engineering students will take one semester of electromagnetics to get a better understanding of transmission lines and smart antennas. The trend has been to decrease coverage from the more traditional two semester sequence to a single semester course to make room for other topics. However, a de-emphasis is unfortunate since the subject is fundamental to the understanding of wireless communications, radar systems (such as new airport systems), GPS operation, transportation systems (anti-collision radar, maglev), RFID systems, medical imaging systems (MRI), and bioelectromagnetics.

The universities involved in this paper have different approaches to covering Electromagnetics. One University presently has a two semester sequence of electromagnetics and presently uses the T-Lines first approach. The second university had a three (3) hour junior level course but increased it to four (4) starting in Fall of 2008. The extra credit may be just enough to cover more materials on transmission lines and some additional applications using software packages. The third university also requires a four (4) credit core electromagnetics course that begins with electrostatics and progresses through EM wave propagation and ends with transmission lines. Students can also take senior level classes in antennas, microwave engineering, high speed systems and optical systems.

Electromagnetics can be challenging for students for several reasons. First, fields are vector quantities and students must visualize directions in space. This can be complicated by the necessity of studying different coordinate systems (Cartesian, cylindrical and spherical). Also, students are required to perform integration and differentiation, skills they have somewhat developed but have rarely applied. This paper will describe ways in which MATLAB and MATHCAD are employed in undergraduate electromagnetics courses at three universities.

Wentworth, S., & Mousavinezhad, S. H., & Mina, M., & PAN, W. (2010, June), Enhancing Electromagnetics Instruction Using Matlab And Mathcad Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky.

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