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The Rubber Band Rule and Other Innovative Techniques to Teach Introductory Circuit Analysis

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Engineering Technology Poster Session

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1344.1 - 25.1344.11



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Paper Authors


James E. Globig University of Dayton

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James Globig joined the University of Dayton in Aug. 1998 after nearly 20 years of engineering experience in a variety of product-producing organizations. Having held positions ranging from Design Engineer to Vice President of Research and Development, he combines a practical and thorough understanding of the product development process and the role of the engineer in corporate America. He is named on eight patents. Globig received his bachelor's of engineering technology from the University of Dayton in 1979, his master's of business administration from Miami University in 1983, and his master's of science from University of Dayton in 2003. He teaches a number of lecture and laboratory courses in circuit analysis, semiconductor devices, and data acquisition and control.

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Michael J. Kozak University of Dayton

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Michael Kozak is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Engineering Technology at the University of Dayton. He primarily teaches classes related to mechanical engineering technology, and his main research interest is in pedagogy.

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The Rubber Band Rule and Other Innovative Techniques to Teach Introductory Circuit AnalysisFirst year engineering and technology students often struggle with the most fundamentalconcepts of circuit analysis. Textbooks often have numerous examples of “what” the variouscircuit examples look like but sometimes fall a bit short of “how” to go about solving them andhow to retain that methodology to memory. In addition, some circuit analysis principles are soobvious to the experienced engineer - author that they are overlooked or skimmed over intextbooks. This instructor has found that a number of simple concepts, when presented in relaxedclassroom or individual problem solving sessions, often turn the lights on for the beginningcircuits student.This paper describes pedagogical circuit analysis techniques, many of which are mnemonictechniques, some of which are tongue - in - cheek, utilized by the author to reinforce thosedescribed in textbooks and at the same time bring some fun into the classroom. Perhaps the mostcommon challenge of the first year circuits student is the recognition of series and parallelcomponent relationships when mixed in a circuit. “Einstein’s Rubber Band Rule,” highlightingthe entire node, “beginning at the end” of a circuit, unconnected components which are “flappin’in the wind,” are just some of the techniques utilized to aid the student in the understanding ofand solution of series - parallel circuits. When learning Thevenin’s and Norton’s Theorems,“opening your eyes” helps the student to remember to open current sources and short voltagesources. In AC circuit analysis, “Capacitors Ain’t Positive” helps students to remember the signof the phase angles of capacitive and inductive impedances. Of course, many of us still call on“ELI the ICE man” to help the student remember the relationship of voltage and current in bothinductive and capacitive circuits.

Globig, J. E., & Kozak, M. J. (2012, June), The Rubber Band Rule and Other Innovative Techniques to Teach Introductory Circuit Analysis Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--22101

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