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Physics C E/M Question

  1. Aug 4, 2009 #1
    Last year, my senior year of high school, I took an AP Physics C class which was devoted solely to mechanics. Starting over spring break I self-studied e/m with an assignment schedule from my teacher. I ran out of time when the ap test came around and ended up only skimming the sections over magnetism. I was really surprised when scores came back and I received a 4. Now I'm debating whether or not I should claim credit for the e/m class.

    I will be an electrical engineering major at UT-austin starting this fall. The e/m physics class is a prereq for "electromagnetic engineering." The description of which is:

    Catalog Description:  325. Electromagnetic Engineering. Introduction to electrostatics and magnetostatics; properties of conductive, dielectric, and magnetic materials; solutions of Maxwell's equations; uniform plane wave applications; frequency- and time-domain analyses of transmission lines. Prerequisite: Physics 303L and 103N and Mathematics 427K with a grade of at least C in each.

    Draft of Course topics:

    1.  Electrostatics(>4 weeks):  

    Coulomb’s law, Gauss’s law (integral and differential forms, divergence), electric scalar potential (line integral, gradient), Laplace and Poisson’s equations (Laplacian), conduction and polarization, boundary conditions on conductors and between dielectrics, method of images, resistance and capacitance  


    2.  Magnetostatics (>2 weeks):  

    Biot-Savart law, Ampere’s law (integral and differential forms, curl), magnetic vector potential, Lorentz force, magnetization, boundary conditions between magnetic materials, magnetic energy and inductance


    3.  Electrodynamics (>5 weeks):  

    (a)  Maxwell’s equations, Faraday’s induction, displacement current

    (b)  Plane wave propagation in free space and in materials, Poynting vector, reflection and transmission of plane waves at media boundary, standing wave ratio

    (c)  Transmission lines, solution to transmission line equations, source/load problems, Smith chart, transients on transmission lines


    4.  Vectors analysis (1 week, can be integrated into the electromagnetics coverage):

    Vector algebra, vector calculus (divergence, gradient, curl, Laplacian), coordinate systems (Cartesian, cylindrical and spherical)
    So will it be easy enough for me to grasp these concepts without retaking an e/m class? Should I claim credit for it and take the class anyways, not having to worry about my grade?
    It will be atleast a semester if not 2 or 3 before I take the electromagnetic engineering class.

    Any insight would be much appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 4, 2009 #2


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    I don't recommend re-taking the class. Although you might (will) forget what you "skimmed" over after some time.
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2009
  4. Aug 4, 2009 #3
    It depends. I got a 4 in EM as well, and I think that means we both kind of failed the exam (cutoff for a 5 is like below 60%). But as long as you can do math and have an affinity for the subject, it shouldn't be unreasonable.
  5. Aug 4, 2009 #4


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    Science Advisor

    My advice: Don't re-take unless the class offered at your university teaches is with a prerequisite of vector calculus (or at least corequisite).
  6. Aug 5, 2009 #5
    The class says you must have credit for or be enrolled in the multivariable calculus class. Could you elaborate more on the reasoning behind your advice nabeshin? Thanks.
  7. Aug 5, 2009 #6


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    If the class has multivariable as a pre or co requisite, you will likely be studying Maxwell's equations in the differential forms, which is different from how they are presented in a physics C class. Since Physics C only assumes basic calc I and calc II knowledge, you simply can't study a lot of things in the same depth as you can with multivariable. Also, the class likely serves as a good brush up on vector calculus (which it looks like will be used a lot in your next class).
  8. Aug 5, 2009 #7
    That makes sense. Thanks a lot for the help. Looks like I will definitely retake the class, now I just need to figure out if I'm confident enough to take it for a grade or claim credit and just retake it.
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