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Work in Progress: Synergy of Visualization and Experiment in Undergraduate Engineering Electromagnetics Course

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Electrical and Computer Division Technical Session 7

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

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Yang Victoria Shao University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

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Yang V. Shao is a teaching assistant professor in electrical and computer engineering department at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). She earned her Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from Chinese Academy of Sciences, China. Dr. She has worked with University of New Mexico before joining UIUC where she developed some graduate courses on Electromagnetics. Dr. Shao has research interests in curriculum development, assessment, student retention and student success in engineering, developing innovative ways of merging engineering fundamentals and research applications.

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Zuofu Cheng

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Electromagnetics (EM) has been a core course in Electrical and computer engineering (ECE) curriculum since last century. However, EM is traditionally considered to be one of the most difficult and heavy mathematics-involved courses. In our university, Electromagnetics has been separated into a required fundamental course and an advanced selective course offered to Junior students. In recent years, only 15-25% of the students who have took the fundamental course are willing to enroll in the advanced course. This have arisen a warning for instructors because both courses are essential for engineering students to better prepare senior technical elective courses including microwave circuits, antenna, power electronics, communications, imaging etc. Hence, it is necessary to developing new teaching methods to improve the understanding in learning EM abstract theoretical concepts. A hybrid visualization and class experiments/demonstration method has been developed in assisting student learning EM. EM is traditionally viewed as a “difficult” discipline due to its highly mathematical and relatively abstract nature. In order to help students ‘visualize’ the invisible EM waves, we illustrate various EM sources, time varying field and wave propagation in 3-Dimensional space to help students visualize them by using Mathematica. We also help students to get their hands-on solving Poisson and Laplace equations through Microsoft Excel. Furthermore, we use commercial simulation software like Ansys HFSS and CST microwave studio to demonstrate the antenna pattern and wave propagation. Meanwhile, we adopt in-class experiments of EM applications to make students more engaged. The purpose of the experiments is to provide a stronger connection between abstract theory and their physical meanings. By connecting the mathematical and engineering applications to the physical world, it generates more interests and in-depth learning than only presenting equations and concepts. The experiments we have developed includes: 1) Coulomb’s law experiment. We use Van de graaff generator as source to demonstrate the inverse square distance rule and electrostatic repulsion. 2) Gauss’s Law experiments. This experiment uses line charge and surface charge to demonstrate the electric field they generated. 3) Electric field between a parallel plate capacitor. We use a Wimshurst machine to charge a pair of plates and demonstrate the electric field inside with a metal ball. 4) Magnetic field strength of a wire and a solenoid. 4) Demonstration of Faraday’s law/Lenz’s law by observing the induced current on a multi-turn coil with moving magnets. 5) Demonstration of Ampere’s law with rotating loops. 6) Transmission line characteristics and impedance matching. Part of the experiments are in progress and is intended to complete before this semester ends.

Shao, Y. V., & Cheng, Z. (2021, July), Work in Progress: Synergy of Visualization and Experiment in Undergraduate Engineering Electromagnetics Course Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--38199

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