The View from the Chalkboard – May 2014

I heard a statement recently that I think is very true. It said: “We use classrooms designed in the 19th century and then assign 20th century instructors to teach 21st century students.”

As a result, for this edition of View from the Chalkboard I have decided to talk about some of the various methods we (the University of Michigan – Dearborn) have discovered to utilize today’s technology (specifically the capabilities of audio and video resources on the internet) that can be utilized to develop effective and efficient methods to enhance the learning of EMC.

I believe these techniques can especially be useful for those universities that perhaps only periodically have courses on EMC, and the many that have no formal lab facilities available at all. Use of the internet’s features can also provide insight into the various complex phenomena that are involved in EMC that many times otherwise would rely on students’ own visualization abilities. I have seen that when I have discussed many of the complex aspects of physics, mathematics, and engineering, students more easily understand and are more interested by viewing videos and animations of these concepts.

At the University of Michigan – Dearborn, the undergraduate course (ECE 319) is an introduction to EMC and has both “lecture” and “lab” components. I am fortunate in that I can focus on the “lecture” aspect of the course and I have a talented lab instructor (who is a former EMC student of mine) Chris Semanson, who also shares my belief that the internet’s resources can be very useful and powerful to assist our teaching of EMC. So what follows are Chris’ words and it is our intention that in addition to helping you, this will also start a discussion of other resources that perhaps you have been successfully using.

Using YouTube and Simulation to Enhance Students’ EMC Learning

Chris Semanson, University of Michigan – Dearborn

Until recently universities and other educational endeavors required expensive capital lab investments in their undergraduate laboratories to be able to demonstrate state of the art concepts in Electrical and Computer Engineering. Traditionally not having access to equipment such as antennas and spectrum analyzers, lectures run the risk of limiting the professor to explain a difficult concept but be unable to live-demonstrate core engineering concepts such as measurement techniques, unintended emissions, or electromagnetic interference.

And while traditionally this was accepted there are now services, such as YouTube, that allow professors and enthusiasts to pool their creative talents to demonstrate and show these otherwise difficult to demonstrate and visualize concepts. In addition to YouTube, simulation software easily allows a professor and student to demonstrate, reliably, complex electromagnetic interactions helping to visualize difficult concepts. These examples make it evident that purely lecturing on a concept without relating it to a real world demonstration will soon become a thing of the past.

Together, videos like the ones contained in this article allow an instructor access to a wide variety of videos and demonstrations that, when used effectively, reinforce the lecture topic. One example of such a video, demonstrated with a tube amplifier, is shown below:

In one, less than two minute video, important concepts such as grounding, shielding, common mode currents, and the human body as an antenna were demonstrated in a clear concise manor. Additionally, precompliance and measurement techniques can be covered as demonstrated as shown in these YouTube videos using popular equipment:

In this demonstration the Engineer is showing how to do some simple precompliance measurements, and showing the usage of a near field probe something that is generally not taught in an undergraduate curriculum. And finally, in a rather imaginative fashion, this video shows how an Arduino project, accidentally, turned into a music player via radiated emissions:

These examples are by no means exhaustive, but they’re meant as a starting point if you’re interested in combining existing material on electromagnetic compatibility, with real world experiments and demonstrations in any educational setting from undergraduate to experienced engineers.

Hopefully this month’s discussion has helped you with some of the resources that may exist to assist with your work in teaching EMC (in either an academic or in house industry settings). If you would like to know more or if you have suggestions for various internet resources that you have used and would like to share with others – please feel free to contact us! favicon


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.
author semanson-chris Chris Semanson
currently works at Ford Motor Company in the Powertrain Controls group doing Embedded Controls where part of his job is to focus on modeling and simulation. In addition he works at University Of Michigan – Dearborn as the Lab instructor for the Electromagnetic Compatibility class that Professor Mark Steffka teaches. These labs are based on a series of experiments originally designed by IEEE’s EMC Society. In addition to the EMC class, he also teaches digital signal processing and guest lectures in analog and digital communications which is also taught by Mark Steffka. His degrees are from the University Of Michigan – Dearborn.