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I welcome your questions and comments. -Charles Kim. Email to me at ckimson@gmail.com

The Laws of Circuit - you can learn and practice by just reading

copyright. Charles Kim 2006

 
OVERVIEW OF THE OTHER SIDE
 
Circuit Theory or Whatever
I have taught Network Analysis I and 2, or Circuit Theory I and II equivalent. Somewhere else they are called Electric Circuit I and II, or similar titles. These two courses on electric circuit usually cover the following subjects. I can name them without opening the textbook for the table of contents. I have taught the subjects several years. They are: voltage, current, power, resistive circuit, series and parallel resistance, voltage divider, current divider, D'Arsonval meter movement, Wheatstone bridge, Delta-to-Y transformation, node voltage method, mesh current method, Thevenin equivalent circuit, maximum power transfer, operational amplifier, inductors and capacitors, transient analysis of first order and second order circuits, Laplace transformation, Laplace transformation application in circuit theory, passive filters, active filters, sinusoidal source, single phase power calculation, and three phase power calculation.
 
Accreditation and ABET
As you see here there are too many subject to cover in 2 semesters. Worse, many universities are now moving to merge two courses together into one course saying electric circuit, and cover these ALL subject within a semester. Of course they cannot teach them all in a semester. Some subject they try to move to upper level courses like signal and systems or electronics, etc. Ironically, in the upper course, the lecturer always assumes you know ALL the subjects and hit the next subject after saying in the effect of "since you took the electric circuit which is a pre-requisite of this course, we move on to the next subject." Well, raise you hand and raise the issue would not impress the lecturer nor persuade to spend extra time to cover the necessary pre-requisite material. You know what, I guess you are all in the electrical engineering or computer engineering or similarly named program (I am using the term "program" not "department" deliberately) under accreditation regionally and nationally like ABET (Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology). ABET evaluates program not department. I think it's smart. Department sounds like more of a facility, and program more of the true entity. So if you enter into a department (office) you see your department chair and a secretary or two or three if you're in a big university. Occasionally you see a few fellow students arguing with the chair or begging for correction in grade, or asking for scholarship. But if you enter into the invisible program office, you see students, faculty, staff, learning environment, lab activity, project performance, etc. What ABET evaluates is this invisible (at least to those who are not active in the ABET thing) program office. A department runs usually one program. Department of electrical engineering offers electrical engineering program and bachelor of electrical engineering degree. However, nowadays, many single department offers two or more programs. Department of electrical and computer engineering offering electrical engineering (degree of electrical engineering) and computer engineering (degree of computer engineering) is such case.
 
Syllabus
In your first class, you are given a syllabus of the course. Two or 3 page length syllabus contains among others course number, course title, course contents, pre-requisite or co-requisite, course cover schedule, homework and exam schedule, grading policy, designs and engineering units, and most importantly, learning outcomes. Most of you have not reached at the last item. Your main concern is how many homework assignments and how many tests or if there is a policy to drop the worst test out of the tests in final grading. The learning outcome is a kind of agreement between the course offering party (program) and the course taker (you) that the program promises you that after taking the course you would (or should) have such and such abilities. A few of them if I list here are: ability to successfully apply mathematical knowledge into problem solving, computer and Internet usage for classroom and learning process, awareness of concurrent technology, etc. Of course there should be (provided by the program), at the end of the semester, evaluation mechanism how these learning outcomes are achieved. I guess you lecturer or your department staff may soon announce that they need your homework submitted or test you failed or excelled for "evidence" collection or such effect. Anyway, the syllabus you received is because of all this ABET business. Not that each every faculty member is very enthusiastic about that but that someone works really hard so that every syllabus in the program contains certain mandatory elements. And that's how you hold your syllabus.
 
Why "the other side" of Circuit Theory?
In the syllabus you have course objectives and course materials, and they are there and they meant to be achieved and fully covered. In other words, the course content whether in the number of chapters of the list of topics or materials, they are to be taught and learned. Period. Because they are there to accomplish the learning outcomes listed at the bottom of the syllabus. And they want to cover as much material and as many topics as any engineering faculty think of. Naturally, therefore, there are numerous topics to teach and to learn. The only way to satisfy these two, too many topics and only one semester, is to quickly cover (skim or fly, I would say) the listed topics and materials. Job is done and you get C or above, and statistically they would say the learning outcomes are successfully achieved. What's left is that the realty that you have not learned anything at all. Your understanding is superficial, shallow, or temporary. If you are smart and real smart, and you are a self-learner and quick-learner and reading the think textbook over pizza is your norm, and you get A from the course, this overview is unnecessary for you. You are not my reader. Congratulations! My "the other side" is NOT for those students who want to have deeper understanding of the subject covered only in equations and with variables. My intended readers are those who are not satisfied with a "theory" but who are only satisfied with "theory" in real sense. In other words, I write this to answer any silly questions you may have but are afraid of being rejected or embarrassed. Actually, I originally started this series after I received several e-mail questions on my lecture note postings. Answering the questions over email requires me to write in words not in equations. So comes "the other side" of the circuit theory. I am going to add and I am doing now questions for you guys and my answers in words so that the topics covered are expanded and richer so that it evolves into a better edition of the other side of circuit theory. So shoot your question.
 
Humor and My Two Cents
Since circuit theory, the first electrical engineering course, after two or three semester long art and science mandatory but less tight courses, is a heavy load course, I try to add spices of humors and jokes, or some silliness. Mind you you're flying with the heavy load. Then you need a floater with laughter at least occasionally. Also a piece of life time advice, or my two cents. Since I have a grown-up child and a college entering kid, I think I am not that out of touch in giving the life time advice. Not that I followed the advice I provided but that, really, I have not and no one told me that. Again my two cents. You get your dollar from your parents.
 
Before I move on: Remember, though, the other side exists only there is one side. So do not ignore the side where you are with your textbook and your lecture wherever you are.
 

 

 


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