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Using Symbolic Computation, Visualization, And Computer Simulation Tools To Enhance Teaching And Learning Of Engineering Electromagnetics

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Computational Tools and Simulation II

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.1333.1 - 14.1333.18



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Paper Authors

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Radian Belu Drexel University

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Alexandru Belu Case Western Reserve University

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

Using Symbolic Computation, Visualization and Computer Simulation Tools to Enhance Teaching and Learning of Engineering Electromagnetics Abstract

In this paper we will review various technologies and techniques in simulating and deepening understanding of abstract and highly mathematical subjects such as electromagnetics. Specifically the paper describes some of the merits of using algebra systems, visualization and simulation tools in teaching undergraduate courses in engineering electromagnetics. A complex computer-assisted problem-based learning system is proposed and is underway to be developed to assist and enhance teaching and learning of electromagnetics through the use of symbolic computation, multimedia, and visualization. Electromagnetics forms the basis of all electrical engineering from electrostatics, electric machines, power electronics, microwave engineering to radio propagation and antenna theory. Electromagnetics has long been considered to be one of the most difficult subjects by students, primarily for the following reasons: a) electromagnetic concepts are perceived to be abstract, b) the understanding of electromagnetic phenomena involves visualization in time and space, and c) solving the electromagnetic problems requires advanced calculus tools, which are handled poorly by many students. Consequently, the degree of undergraduate student motivation to learn the subject matter is one of the lowest in the areas of electrical and power engineering, in spite of the fundamental importance of field theory. The use of simulation software, multimedia, visualization and graphic representations and computer algebra systems as part of engineering education became more and more a common practice in the last two decades, and their advantages are well known and accepted. Simulation software and computer algebras allow students to experiment with phenomena which are too complex to calculate or too expensive to be reproduced in a laboratory, or are simply not accessible to the senses. The successful use of computer algebra systems does not imply that mathematical skills are no longer at a premium: such skills are important as ever. However, computer algebra systems may remove the need for those poorly understood mathematical techniques which are practiced and taught simply because they serve as useful tools. The usefulness of this approach will be evaluated by direct observation and formative assessment, and feedback from other educators will be highly appreciated.

1. Introduction

Engineering electromagnetics is considered one of the most difficult courses and most abstract and conceptually difficult areas for many students to learn and many instructors to teach in the undergraduate electrical engineering curriculum [1-4, 6, 9, 11-15]. These difficulties primarily rely on the fact that underlying fundamentals of electromagnetics are stated in terms of vector fields [1-3, 9-16]. Unlike other areas, such as mechanics, control, or circuits, which deal with concrete objects, electromagnetic theory deals with intangible fields distributed in space and time, concepts that are abstract and difficult to gain insight into. In this sense, students are constrained to understand many concepts involving vector abstract quantities that present simultaneous variations in time and

Belu, R., & Belu, A. (2009, June), Using Symbolic Computation, Visualization, And Computer Simulation Tools To Enhance Teaching And Learning Of Engineering Electromagnetics Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5205

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