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Scientific Visualization in the Circuits Curriculum: Enhancing Student Insight

E. Doering
Journal / Anthology

Proceedings of the Frontiers in Education Conference
Year: 1995
Volume: 1
Page range: 2c6.13-2c6.16

Scientific visualization techniques translate large and/or multidimensional numerical data sets into images. Properly prepared images enable the user to more readily correlate information, determine cause-and-effect relationships, and gain insight into the underlying principles embodied in the data. Concepts from scientific visualization have been used to develop CircuitViz, a tool for visualizing the behavior of dynamic circuits. This circuit visualization technique places a 2D circuit schematic in a 3D coordinate system. The third spatial dimension displays circuit variables (current, voltage, power, stored energy) directly on the schematic diagram, and animation displays the temporal dimension. The visual cues are designed to be intuitively appealing and to reinforce understanding of device operation. The technique, implemented as a Mathematica package, was pilot-tested for two weeks in a second-quarter sophomore circuits class studying the transient response of first- and second-order circuits. The animated imagery stimulated student interest in the material, and the students made insightful observations about how circuits work as a result of viewing the global operation of the circuits. Keywords: data visualization; computer animation; transient response; electrical engineering education; circuit analysis computing; computer aided instruction

*Engineering > Electrical Engineering