Field theory: Requirement for change in perspective.

  1. I am pursuing electrical engineering and I am currently in my 3rd semester. I have field theory or Engineering electromagnetics as a subject. It seems very interesting but I am not able to figure how to approach the subject to enjoy it. Hence I need to change my perspective from just reading,understanding a bit and memorizing to learning and relating. People recommend a course in Vectors. But I have a strong foundation there. Need help how to change the way I am learning?
  2. jcsd
  3. I'm in 1 semester of electrical engineering, and even though I don't do fields yet, I know from older students that a lot or them don't understand it. They seem to be ok with it, as long as you don't plan on choosing telecommunications as a specialty I don't think you'll run into much trouble.
    But then I just started uni so what do I know...
  4. jasonRF

    jasonRF 770
    Gold Member

    I am wondering what level the course is at - here in the US engineering electromagnetics is often a 3rd YEAR course that requires a handful of math classes (vector calculus, linear algebra, differential equations) and the intro physics sequence as prerequisites. My third semester as an EE I was taking the electricity and magnetism intro physics course. If you gave us more information (what book you are using, course topics, prerequisite math classes, etc.) it would help us understand your situation.

    Almost everything an EE does has electromagnetics as a foundation. This is a wireless world - which means many of our devices have antennas, RF electronics, and rely on electromagnetic waves. And then there is the stuff that is NOT wireless, like traditional cable TV, fiber optics, etc., which also requires electromagnetics to understand. And then there is the natural world - how does the rainbow work? Can I predict the geometry required to see it? (yes!) ... I surely hope you can find something here to enjoy! Keep those things in the back of your mind as motivation while you learn about electromagnetics.

    What specifically are you having problems understanding? How much time are you spending studying the material? Do you take advantage of TA and Professor office hours to ask the "understanding" questions? Asking specific questions may be more helpful here.

    I wish you the best.

  5. jasonRF

    jasonRF 770
    Gold Member

    As an EE in industry this is frightening. I personally hope I never have to work with the students you mention who are "ok with" not understanding electromagnetics. I would certainly never choose to work with them and hope my boss doesn't hire them!

    My advice to you is to not listen to these older students, but to be motivated to learn the material.

    best regards,

    1 person likes this.
  6. jasonRF

    jasonRF 770
    Gold Member

    Nice link! But wow - it seems like they try to cram a full year of stuff into a single semester these days (I must be getting old to use the phrase "these days").

  7. Hey! I am at my final year of EE. I never had a course that was called "field theory," but I have taken a course called "Engineering Electromagnetism." I think the way to enjoy it, is to first think of it not from a engineering perspective but from a physical (or physics) point of view. For example, I am always mind-blown when I think of visible light (a part of the EM spectrum) being made from collapsing electric fields (which in turn create a magnetic field, which eventually collapse and form electric fields... this process continues forever!) [this applies to all the EM spectrum, not just visible light]. This is just a simple example of thinking of the physical point of view.

    After you appreciate the physical point of view, you then can see how it applies to what we do (in this case EE!). For example signals that travel through a wire, are also EM waves that travel through a medium (this time the EM travels through the copper wire not through air or vacuum), the copper medium tends to slow down the speed of the EM wave (any medium that isn't vacuum will slow it down). After you start understanding the theoretical perspective, you can start to question things. For example, can some medium allow an EM wave to travel at it's max speed (being the speed of light)? Yes, fiber optics! You may even go as far as to question, can a medium cause an EM wave to travel faster than the speed of light!!!! Well according to Einstein, this is impossible! Yes, this may be sci-fi, but it is fun to think about!

    You may also try to enjoy the math point of view of field theory. See how the natural world is described through math. Every now and then I look around my class room and am baffled how some humans tend to understand math, when to others it is literally jargon!

    Finally, Maxwell's equations! That is all I am going to say about this one!

    Also, just because some older students say you don't need to understand Field theory doesn't mean they are right. These students are probably the average or below average students! I think it is more important to enjoy and understand the course at your own pace than to score a high GPA (this however may be costly since no one wants a low gpa).

    Keep asking questions and try to enjoy what you study as much as you can.
    I think I have said too much! Sorry. Good luck with your educational journey.
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2013
  8. Actually I was torn between mechanical engineering and electrical, but I chose the latter because electromagnetism seems so interesting! :D
  9. jasonRF

    jasonRF 770
    Gold Member

    I chose EE because of electromagnetism, too, and have not regretted it one bit. I wish you the best!

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