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Power Electronics Instruction: Topics, Curricula, And Trends

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1997 Annual Conference


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Publication Date

June 15, 1997

Start Date

June 15, 1997

End Date

June 18, 1997



Page Count


Page Numbers

2.324.1 - 2.324.12



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Herbert Hess

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

Session 3233

Power Electronics Instruction: Topics, Curricula, and Trends

Herbert L. Hess Department of Electrical Engineering University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho

Abstract A review of the evolution of power electronics instruction in the US and Canada. Summary of surveys in the literature on structure and content of existing programs. The place power electronics occupies within curriculum with recommendations for improvement of that position. Outline of undergraduate power electronics courses, laboratories, and projects. Identification of trends that may affect power electronics instruction.

Introduction By the year 2000, about 60% of all electric energy consumed in the US and Canada, will be processed through at least one power electronic stage.[1] Such a demand requires engineers who understand the fundamentals of power electronics and has led to the rise of a number of programs to teach this subject. In this paper, a look is taken at the evolution of power electronics programs and their existing place within the general curriculum. Results of surveys show that over 100 such programs exist, varying in depth from just a course or two to well-funded sequences including graduate courses and cutting-edge research. After presenting a summary of these surveys, the scope narrows to undergraduate curricula. While there is some common ground among most undergraduate programs, there is little agreement on any universal form or focus for a graduate program. For both established and new programs, a topic set for undergraduate instruction appears to be fairly common and will be shown in this paper, along with the content of supporting laboratories, examples of projects, and a list of textbooks. The place in the curriculum occupied by power electronics is then described and ideas for improving that place are proposed. Finally, some trends that may influence power electronics instruction are noted and explored.

General Curriculum Power electronics instruction is ordinarily found within an energy conversion portion of the electrical engineering curriculum. Undergraduate course content is remarkably consistent from program to program, as will be shown in this section. Graduate instruction, on the other hand, tends to be focused in the research direction of the school at hand, as one might expect. Professor Mohan conducted a survey in 1995 to determine the state of power electronics instruction in the US and Canada.[3] He polled all colleges and universities through their department chairs, a mailing list that is easy to get from the ABET or NEEDHA directories. From 119 responses, he assembled courses under six categories: machines, power electronics, drives, utility applications, switchmode power supplies, and power semiconductor devices. For undergraduates, courses appeared in each of the first four categories. As shown in Figure 1, machines courses with no power electronics are the most numerous with 85 schools offering a machines course, of which 57 require it for an electrical engineering baccalaureate degree. About half as many offer an introductory power electronics course, nearly all of which make it an optional part of the baccalaureate degree. Machines courses with power electronic content are

Hess, H. (1997, June), Power Electronics Instruction: Topics, Curricula, And Trends Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 10.18260/1-2--6736

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