Asee peer logo

SAGE off Stage: Teaching Electromagnetics with a Symbolic Computation Tool

Download Paper |


2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Engineering Physics & Physics Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Engineering Physics & Physics

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1064.1 - 24.1064.7



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Yumin Zhang Southeast Missouri State University


David K. Probst P.E. Southeast Missouri State University

visit author page

Dr. David K. Probst is Professor and Chairperson of the Department of Physics and Engineering Physics at Southeast Missouri State University. He regularly works with his departmental faculty colleagues to help them assess the effectiveness of their teaching innovations.

visit author page

Download Paper |


SAGE off Stage: Teaching Electromagnetics with Symbolic Computation ToolElectromagnetics is often considered the most challenging undergraduate course for manystudents, and there are several challenges: mathematics, imagination, as well as new conceptsand approaches. Instructors and students alike have trouble in dealing with so many new issuesin a short period of time. Among these challenges, mathematics is the toughest, as it takesconsiderable time and effort to learn. In our school, the background of students is very diverse,and some of them even have trouble in doing simple integrals.SAGE is an open source symbolic computation tool, and there is a free online version that doesnot need to install any software into local computers. It can be used for symbolic derivation, soevery student can find derivative, integral, and even gradient of functions easily. In addition, italso supports programming in Python style. In the past, the first three weeks of this course werespent for reviewing Vector Calculus; however, this effort was proved fruitless to a portion of thestudents and redundant for others. In this semester, no time was spent on reviewing VectorCalculus, and students can rely on SAGE to deal with almost all mathematic issues. In this way,more time is available to cope with the challenges of other issues, such as new concepts andapproaches.The result of this course is assessed by using Conceptual Survey of Electricity and Magnetism.This set of survey problems requires students to have a good understanding of the basic conceptsand theorems, but it does not need advanced mathematics. Therefore, the students’ performanceis improved significantly.

Zhang, Y., & Probst, D. K. (2014, June), SAGE off Stage: Teaching Electromagnetics with a Symbolic Computation Tool Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--22997

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2014 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015