June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
Energy Conversion and Conservation
15.965.1 - 15.965.13
Power Conversion Coursework Using a Solid State Tesla Coil
Comprehensive electrical engineering curricula involve both analytical design and experimental components. In the area of power electronics, these components can be integrated using a sample application of the course material such as a buck or boost converter. This converter is then gradually analyzed and/or designed during the course using open-ended homework questions for teaching students valuable problem solving skills in addition to the core course material. Coupled with the physical construction of the sample application throughout the duration of the course, the students receive an education rich in both theoretical and practical scopes.
The authors recently designed and constructed a solid state Tesla coil (or SSTC, shown in Figure 1) for use in demonstrations to stimulate K-12 interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. In response to the subsequent interest of both practicing engineers and college engineering students in the SSTC, this paper proposes its use as a sample application in a power conversion course.
Tesla coils have long been used in physics demonstrations to engage audiences and rouse interest in the sciences and engineering. More recently, solid state power electronics have been used to drive Tesla coils, allowing much greater control over the arcs and permitting the production of music with their plasmas. It is expected, then, that the use of an SSTC in a power electronics or other power conversion course could improve student engagement throughout the course as compared to more conventional sample applications. Furthermore, it will be shown that the knowledge base necessary to build an SSTC spans far more technical areas than required in most conventional power electronics projects, and therefore justifies the SSTC as practical classroom exercise. The hypotheses presented in this paper are investigated and further evaluated with a survey to gauge student interest in enrolling in a power electronics course based on a variety of sample applications, including the SSTC.
(a) (b) (c) Figure 1: Solid state Tesla coil. (a) Actual Tesla coil used in this paper, (b-c) examples of plasma effects seen during operation (photography by Tim Obermann).
Reed, J., & Ludois, D., & Hamlin, M. (2010, June), Power Conversion Coursework Using A Solid State Tesla Coil Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16564
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