The View from the Chalkboard – August 2013

For this month’s edition of the “View from The Chalkboard” I am focusing on an amazing progression that one university (Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan) was able to do in a short time in the establishment of an EMC curriculum. The person behind this work is Dr. Bogdan Adamczyk, who is both the Director of the GVSU EMC Center and the Electrical Engineering Department Chair.

adamczyk-bogdanDr. Adamczyk and myself recently had a discussion about how the EMC Center came to be, what its role is in serving the needs of both the students and local industry, and most importantly the “lessons learned” in going from no EMC curriculum to a valuable center of EMC knowledge and EMC precompliance testing in Western Michigan.

Dr. Adamczyk has a unique background in both academia and industry which gave him the perspective needed to realize how a university – industry partnership in EMC could be developed and successfully implemented.

Dr. Adamczyk and I hope you find his comments and insight useful in your work in EMC education!

Mark Steffka: What does your university offer for EMC education?

Dr. Adamczyk: EMC education at GVSU serves two different populations: university-enrolled students and the local EMC professionals. For the GVSU students, the following four semester-long courses are available: junior-level Applied Electromagnetics, senior-level Electromagnetic Compatibility, graduate-level Printed Circuit Board Design and EMC, and EMC Special Topics.

For the local EMC practitioners we offer the following four courses: Math and Circuits Foundations of EMC, Electromagnetics Foundations of EMC, EM Waves, Transmission Lines and Antennas Foundations of EMC, EMC Special Topics.

Mark Steffka: What role does the EMC Center play in supporting the EMC education and local industry?

Dr. Adamczyk: The EMC Center provides two types of services: EMC education and EMC precompliance testing. In addition to the EMC courses already mentioned, the EMC Center supports senior and graduate projects, and in the near future will provide internship for GVSU students.

For the local industry, the EMC Center offers EMC precompliance testing and design support. There is a tremendous need in the local industry for a timely, affordable and easily accessible EMC precompliance testing facility.

These two services can be related. Many tests performed at the EMC Center find their way into the EMC course content, laboratory exercises and demonstrations for the GVSU students. Many course design projects are tested at the EMC Center providing the students with the exposure to the current EMC regulations, testing equipment and procedures.

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EMC Center Seminar Room

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GTEM Cell at the EMC Center

Mark Steffka: What prompted you to become involved in EMC?

Dr. Adamczyk: It’s really a result of the desire to make the university courses relevant to today’s industry needs and to reflect current engineering practices. The process first began in 2005, when I attended the IEEE EMC Symposium in Chicago. As you know, that is when I first met you and Dr. Clayton Paul. Through the encouragement of both of you, I then applied for the IEEE EMC Society Education Grant (now known as the John Howard Memorial Grant) and was fortunate to subsequently receive the grant to establish an EMC course.

Mark Steffka: How did you continue the process after receiving the grant?

Dr. Adamczyk: After receiving the grant, in 2007 you recall that I spent one day per week attending your EMC courses and undergraduate EMC lab facilities at the University of Michigan’s Dearborn campus. Then with that background, I started working with a local EMC lab in an industry setting. It was there that I developed ideas on how my university could have formal courses for students as well as provide EMC education for industry engineers. One of the key items I observed was that it was very difficult for working engineers to become proficient in EMC, since without a local university curriculum much of the EMC education they received was very focused and sporadic (such as attending the EMC Symposium once a year). Although that wasn’t wrong – it just was not efficient. I then realized that the key was to provide continuous “after work hours” education at a measured pace. It was at that point I began partnering with local industry to provide that type of education. That approach proved to be a success and has become a foundation of the EMC Center offerings’.

Mark Steffka: Can you tell me about the physical location of the EMC Center and other initiatives that you have been involved in?

Dr. Adamczyk: Two years ago, it turned out that there was warehouse facility that was owned by the university that I realized could be re‑purposed and put to use as the formal location of the EMC Center.

In addition we have established a local IEEE EMC chapter (of which I am a founding member and the chapter chair) that is able to meet in the EMC Center. Our meetings have been surprisingly well attended and include anywhere from 20 – 50 people (which is quite large for a local area our size).

While the EMC Center is primarily designed to be a “teaching resource” it can fill a key need to complement commercial EMC labs (which, in general, are not pre-compliance focused). Interestingly, a local compliance lab has recognized the value of maintaining a linkage to GVSU, as it provides an opportunity for its customers to have a “baseline” of EMC when formal compliance testing is being planned. This also assists many small and medium sized companies that cannot afford pre-compliance facilities in-house, yet need to meet EMC requirements. They can utilize GVSU’s resources up-front prior to testing in a formal certified EMC lab. These are highlighted in the “EMC Center brochure” that can be accessed at

Mark Steffka: Since we are on the topic of the testing that the EMC Center can provide, can you tell us how you choose the test equipment in the EMC Center?

Dr. Adamczyk: This is a good point – we seek the guidance from our industry partners. They are involved in the day-to-day engineering work and are very familiar with what instrumentation and test equipment needs are. Since we want to assist them in their work – we listen closely to their suggestions. We have also be fortunate to receive a number of items as donations, and recently we have had the opportunity to receive full chambers as donated items – which substantially increases our educational content and assistance to industry. Another aspect that has worked well is the fact that some of our equipment is designed and built by our own students – thus enhancing their education and our resources on a very cost effective basis.

Mark Steffka: Dr. Adamczyk, you have done an incredible job of creating and implementing EMC at GVSU. What final pieces of advice would you have for other universities? What do you think was key to your success? What would you have done differently?

Dr. Adamczyk: The key enabler was the support of the administration establishing and building the personal relationships with industry EMC professionals based on mutual EMC interest. Along with that, the willingness to work hard (including many nights and weekends) was absolutely critical. Without those steps – this may have been perceived as just an “academic exercise” – of minimal value to the needs of industry. What would I have done
differently – about the only thing would be to have started earlier than 2005!

Mark Steffka: Dr. Adamczyk, thank you very much for the hard work you have done in EMC and the time you have taken to talk to me. In closing could you tell us what you think about the future of EMC? What advice do you have for engineering students?

Dr. Adamczyk: Each graduating electrical or computer engineering student should have some basic knowledge of EMC. Many schools recognize that and introduce the EMC education at the undergraduate level. In answer to what is my advice – it’s really quite simple. In addition to doing well in their academic studies, students should always strive to be involved in professional societies and maintain a network of colleagues. This is key to the engineering practice!

Dr. Bogdan Adamczyk can be reached at Dr. Adamczyk teaches electromagnetics and electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) courses at GVSU; he also provides EMC courses for local industry. Dr. Adamczyk is an iNARTE-certified EMC Master Design engineer, a founding member and the chair of the IEEE EMC Chapter of West Michigan. He has developed and manages the EMC Center at GVSU to support EMC pre-compliance testing and EMC education for GVSU and local industry. Dr. Adamczyk joined GVSU in 1999 after having worked for several years in the automotive industry. He holds a BSEE and an MSEE from the University of Nevada, Reno, and a Ph.D. in Systems Engineering from Oakland University in Michigan.


author steffka-mark-2 Mark Steffka, B.S.E., M.S.
is a Lecturer (at the University of Michigan – Dearborn), an Adjunct Professor (at the University of Detroit – Mercy) and an automotive company Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) Technical Specialist. His university experience includes teaching undergraduate, graduate, and professional development courses on EMC, antennas, and electronic communications.  His extensive industry background consists of over 30 years’ experience with military and aerospace communications, industrial electronics, and automotive systems.
Mr. Steffka is the author and/or co-author of numerous technical papers and publications on EMC presented at various Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) conferences.  He has also written about and has been an invited conference speaker on topics related to effective methods in university engineering education. He is an IEEE member, has served as a technical session chair for SAE and IEEE conferences and has served as an IEEE EMC Society Distinguished Lecturer.  He holds a radio communications license issued by the United States’ Federal Communication Commission (FCC) and holds the call sign WW8MS.