Teaching applied electromagnetics to engineering technology students
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In a world where computer bus speeds have increased beyond 1 GHz and wireless communications/connectivity are common place, electronics and telecommunication engineering technology (ET) graduates require an understanding of basic applied electromagnetic concepts. To address this issue, many ET programs now offer courses in radio frequency electronics, transmission lines, and other high frequency concepts. This paper discusses a new engineering technology course recently implemented at Texas A&M University that stresses fundamental principles and real world applications of applied electromagnetics. The course includes a weekly lab for reinforcing the classroom concepts. The course begins by expanding on concepts that students have learned in their basic circuits courses. By discussing the concept of "real" components and parasitic capacitances and inductances, students learn to look at even the most basic circuits in a new way, recognizing new sources of coupling, crosstalk, and loss. Transmission line concepts are then introduced followed by Maxwell's equations. Students learn the concepts of the plane wave, wave reflection and transmission, boundary conditions, and penetration depth. These principles are then applied to waveguides, antennas, and free space wave propagation. The final subject of the course is an introduction to RF communication links. Basic communication system architectures are presented and the concepts of noise, signal-to-noise ratio, and link budgets are introduced. This paper will discuss the course curriculum and the laboratory in detail.