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Resistors, Capacitors and Inductors Are Not as They Appear

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Engineering Physics and Physics Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Engineering Physics and Physics

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Paper Authors


Paul Benjamin Crilly U.S. Coast Guard Academy

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Paul Crilly is a Professor of Electrical Engineering at the United States Coast Guard Academy. He received his Ph.D. from New Mexico State University, his M. S. and B.S. degrees at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, all in Electrical Engineering. He was previously an Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Tennessee and was a Development Engineer at the Hewlett Packard Company. His areas of interest include laboratory development, antennas, wireless communications, signal processing, and instrumentation.

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Tooran Emami Ph. D. U.S. Coast Guard Academy

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Tooran Emami is an associate professor of Electrical Engineering at the U. S. Coast Guard Academy. She received M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from Wichita State University in 2006 and 2009, respectively. Dr. Emami was an adjunct faculty member of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Wichita State University for three semesters. Her research interests are Proportional Integral Derivative (PID) controllers, robust control, time delay, compensator design, and filter design applications, for continuous-time and discrete-time systems.

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Abstract –This paper presents an analysis of the basic elements of an electrical circuit in order that undergraduate engineering students will experience, and thereby understand the non-ideal nature of electrical components. It is motivated by the fact that many electrical engineering students, after they have completed their first circuits course believe that the assigned or measured values of a given resistor (R), inductor (L) or capacitor (C) are within the manufacturer’s stated tolerances and are in fact pure Rs, Ls and Cs. They also assume these components when connected to form a circuit will behave as a lumped parameter, time invariant system whose response can be predicted using a mathematical model based on measured or stated values. This paper demonstrates a practical experience that shows this is not always the case at frequencies above a few MHz. In a junior level laboratory, students discover that a coil will have a resonant frequency that is caused by parasitic or stray capacitance, that a resistor or capacitor lead whose length, l, is greater than 0.01 times the wavelength (i.e. l > 0.1λ )will have a significant inductive component that cannot be ignored, and that an iron core choke’s inductance is affected by its input signal’s frequency. The objective is to provide some practical, hands on experiences so that students can experience for themselves that resistors, inductors and capacitors are not at all what they seem and thereby develop deeper insight into the behavior of electrical components. The ultimate goal of this understanding is to make them more competent at design and analysis of electrical systems.

Crilly, P. B., & Emami, T. (2018, June), Resistors, Capacitors and Inductors Are Not as They Appear Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30935

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