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Interactive Computer Demonstrations For Electrical Engineering

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.363.1 - 3.363.4

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Alan Felzer

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

Session 1658


Alan Felzer

Cal Poly Pomona

ABSTRACT - There are a number of relationships in electrical engineering that students have trouble understanding ranging all the way from how the signs of voltages and currents depend on their reference directions to how a signal's shape is related to its Fourier Transform. The objective of this paper is to describe some Interactive Demonstrations I have put on the WEB at to help students understand these relationships.

INTRODUCTION - Lectures are great for presentation of material. Group and class discussions are great for getting students actively involved. And labs are great for giving students the experience of building and troubleshooting real circuits and for giving them first hand experience in how circuits behave. But many students still need extra help learning the basic conventions and relationships they need before they can go on to more general analysis, synthesis and system evaluation (Bloom, 1984). The goal of the interactive multimedia demonstrations described in this paper is to give students the added experience that will help them accomplish this goal (Kolb, 1984).

The multimedia demonstrations described in this paper help students gain experience in circuit behavior by showing them what happens when they click on circuit diagrams to change things like reference directions and circuit element values. The main advantages of these demonstrations, besides being free, are that they are easy to use and give students immediate feedback. Students do not need to build and troubleshoot hardware or learn any specialized programs. All a student needs is a computer with a browser. Another nice feature of these demonstrations is that they can simultaneously show how more than one variable is changing at the same time. It is straightforward, for example, to put together an interactive demonstration that shows how changes in the value of the capacitor of a first order RC circuit affects both its transient and frequency responses. Such demonstrations are typically much more difficult to do in the lab.

I originally put together a collection of interactive demonstrations about six years ago using Supercard and Hypercard for Macintosh computers. But their usefulness was limited by the fact that virtually all our students have PCs. The present demonstrations are written in HTML and so are accessible on the internet to all students. I also give my students a disk of my demonstrations so they can run them without having to be connected to the internet.

Felzer, A. (1998, June), Interactive Computer Demonstrations For Electrical Engineering Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington.

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