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Need help so that I can help myself

  1. Aug 3, 2008 #1
    Hello, first time posting but have been lurking for a while.

    Im looking at getting back to school to get my BS in CompEng. A bit of background, I have a degree in CompSci and was very close to getting my master in it too. Family problems pulled me away from finishing it and getting a regular job. Had to work for the family business. Getting back to the present, I now have the time to go back to school but Im actually thinking of going down a different track.

    So what do I need help with? Well, I need information on how much math/physics I'll be required to know for the intro class Circuits (it uses this book http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0471730424.html ) and what will I need to know for the rest of the CE classes. I have taken Calc I, II, III, DiffEq, Linear Algebra, Matrix, and a few other high level math classes. The problem is that Im extremely, extremely, extremely rusty. Seriously, I havent done any hard math in almost a decade.

    I will likely get credit for those math classes so I wont need to take them to get my degree, but I want to start sharpening my skill so I dont feel overwhelmed and drop out of school. I was thinking of taking that Circuits class this September, but after looking into it a bit, it seems Im not totally prepared for it and might be better if i postpone it till January.

    What books do you all recommend for self study so that I can be better prepared for this class and what I should get for the degree. Im looking for both math and physics suggestions.

    Thanks for any and all input.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 4, 2008 #2
    Should I have posted in a different part of the forum? Or did I go overboard with my first post? :blushing:
  4. Aug 4, 2008 #3
    I don't know anything about Engineering or Physics maths but I recommend you get Springer series books. The ones that are titled "Elementary <insert field>". I found them very readable and nice. If you could be a bit more specific about the maths used I could be of more help.

    Good luck!
  5. Aug 4, 2008 #4
    Thats actually part of the problem. Im not sure what I need to know. I dont want to start taking a class that will require me to know calc inside and out. If thats the case, id rather postpone the class a semester and take the time to refresh myself with calc. If thats the case is there any books that would be good as self study? I'll look into the Springer books, a place to start.

    Thanks for the luck, I think I will be needing a lot of it. ;)
  6. Aug 4, 2008 #5
    Intro to Circuits involves very basic algebra and being able to solve simultaneous equations w/ typically 3 variables being the max. If your Intro class goes into inductors or capacitors, there will be some very light calculus, but you'll most likely be taught what you need to know in the class. You will also need to be proficient with complex numbers when dealing with inductors and capacitors, but again, you will most likely be given a refresher in the class as this is where most engineering undergrads are introduced to complex numbers.

    The intro to circuits class basically just involves a lot of algebra. You should be taught all you need to know. In my program at UTexas, we only covered ohmic circuits and op-amps and left inductors/caps for a later class. Nothing other than basic algebra was needed as this was a freshmen level class.

    If you post a syllabus I might be able to tell you what more is needed; sometimes the book is used for more than one semester, so I can't tell from looking at your link what is covered.

    As for what will be needed down the road: you should bone up on integrals and Fourier/Laplace transforms. Some vector calculus will be needed for electromagnetics, but again, you should be able to pick it up as you go.

    I wouldn't put off registering for September for fear of what is covered in Intro to Circuits. That class, at least in my program, was by far the easiest class I've ever taken.
  7. Aug 5, 2008 #6
    @huckmank:This is the syllabus for winter 2007, should be similar to what they will use for fall 2008. Im hoping that all I'll need is algebra as you say, and can take my time with refreshing my calc skills.

    OBJECTIVE: Fundamental laws, electrical elements and sources, energy and power. DC analysis of linear circuits. Node and mesh analysis. Operational amplifiers and op-amp circuits, Thevenin and Norton theorems. Sinusoidal steady-state response and the phasor concept. Introductory concepts on complex frequency, average power in AC circuits. First and second order circuits. Three lecture hours per week and one three-hour laboratory per week. Prerequisites: Preceded or accompanied by Physics 151 and preceded by Math 116 or equivalents. Three lecture hours and three laboratory hour per week.

    Lecture Tuesday & Thursdays 11:30am-1:20pm. Note the class start/end time. Attending all lectures will assure that you do not miss any important contents covered, and will help you pass the quizzes and exam. IF YOU MISS MY LECTURES TOO FREQUENTLY, YOU ARE VERY LIKELY TO FACE DIFFICULTIES IN GETTING A DECENT GRADE. MAINTAINING GOOD CLASS NOTES WILL HELP IMMENSELY.


    1. Basic electrical concepts, current, voltage and power (ch1) (2 hours)
    2. Ohm's Law, Kirchhoff's laws for analysis of circuits (ch2) (2 hours)
    3. Node and mesh analysis, circuit theorems (ch3 & ch5) (4 hours)
    4. Introduction to operational amplifier circuits (ch4) (4 hours)
    5. Inductance and capacitance (ch6) (6 hours)
    6. source free first order circuits (ch7) (6 hours)
    7. Sinusoidal steady-state, phasor, impedance and admittance (ch8) (6 hours)
    8. RMS values, average power and, power transfer (ch9) (4 hours)
    9. Magnetically coupled circuits and poly phase circuits (ch10 & ch11)(4 hours)
    10. Forced/natural, transient/steady state response (ch12) (2 hours)
    11. Exams (3 hours)
  8. Aug 5, 2008 #7
    Ok, well you'll be going into AC analysis which will involve some complex number arithmetic. The 2nd order circuits will require a passing understanding of what integrals and derivatives are, but you won't be doing any integrating; you'll be forming a characteristic equation of the circuit, which just requires algebra. There may be some differentiation in finding initial and final conditions of 2nd order circuits, but you'll only be differentiating sin/cos, so nothing rough there.

    Everything in that list can be tackled with an understanding of algebra and perhaps some trig. If it's anything like my circuit classes covering this material, it should be a fairly self-contained course that gives you all of the tools you need to tackle the required problems.

    Bone up on complex numbers and phasors if you want to give yourself a head-start on the class. I would just buy the book for the course, all of the required math should be in the appendices. My circuits book had an appendix covering Cramer's rule and solving simultaneous equations, one on complex numbers and an entire section on sinusoids and phasors.

    Oh btw, congratulations on going back to school to study what you enjoy.
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