EMC Education at the University of Michigan - Dearborn
You can see the enthusiasm the students have for EMC! Instructor Mark Steffka is shown with students Dale Sanders and Maureen McGinnis (left to right) in the University's new EMC Lab.

What started out with a $10,000 IEEE grant in 1999 in order to help incorporate EMC into the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) courses at the University of Michigan - Dearborn, has grown into a key part of the undergraduate curriculum and the engineering continuing education programs! The accomplishments that have been achieved since the Winter 2000 term are significant and include:

  • Establishment of two undergraduate courses, "ECE 319 - Introduction to EMC" and "ECE 420 - EMC Testing and Instrumentation",
  • A United States National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to establish an on-campus EMC laboratory,
  • Two courses conducted in "Automotive System EMC" (as part of the Engineering Professional Development Program),
  • The total past and current enrollment in the undergraduate courses is now over 100 students and 30 engineers have taken the "Automotive System EMC" two-day course.

The IEEE grant was initially pursued by the ECE department chair, Dr. M. Shridhar, in response to a request he received to look at how the topic of EMC could be covered at the university level. In developing the rationale for the grant, Dr. Shridhar requested and received outstanding industry cooperation through the efforts of many EMC professionals located in the Southeast Michigan region, many of whom are members of the IEEE EMC SE Michigan Chapter. This cooperation resulted in the preparation of an outline of an EMC curriculum content, selection of appropriate reference materials (primarily textbooks), and the identification of a need for a laboratory facility to assist the students in their understanding. In order to introduce the topic to current students, the university then conducted a series of guest lectures on different aspects of EMC. These lectures were well received and indicated the potential viability of full-term course(s) in EMC at the campus.

The "EMC Dream Team" of John Shen (left) and Mark Steffka who helped make the dream of an ongoing EMC curriculum a reality at the University of Michigan - Dearborn.

In the Winter 2000 term the first course in the EMC sequence (ECE 319) was taught by Mr. Jim Muccioli, a well-known EMC professional from the Detroit area. This course is an introduction to the EMC discipline, how it has evolved, its impact on product design practices, and what basic techniques are used to minimize EMC issues in components and systems. Since the Fall 2000 term, the curriculum has been taught by Mr. Mark Steffka, an EMC Specialist at General Motors, and an Adjunct Lecturer in the UM-D ECE department. The course that was first offered for the Fall 2000 term was ECE 420 - which builds upon the fundamentals covered in ECE 319 and incorporates a study of test methods and instrumentation used in EMC. ECE 319 utilizes Henry Ott's text, "Noise Reduction Techniques in Electronic Systems" and the textbook for ECE 420 is Dr. Clayton Paul's book "Introduction to EMC". (Since the Winter 2001 term, Mr. Steffka has also been the instructor for ECE 319).
The Winter 2003 term for ECE 319 has the highest enrollment that has been experienced to date! Over 40 students enrolled in the course, and many signed up on a "wait list" basis. Students indicated that they selected the course based on the "practical approach" that Henry Ott's book utilizes.

The new EMC Lab under construction. The shielded enclosure was donated to the University of Michigan - Dearborn by General Motors. The University welcomes good quality EMC product donations!

Initial feedback from both university students and faculty has been very positive and supportive of this curriculum! As a result, Dr. Shridhar and Professor John Shen believed that the university should pursue a grant from the NSF to assist the campus in establishing an EMC laboratory to be located in the engineering building. In May 2001, a proposal was submitted by the university to NSF emphasizing the role that the university could fill in response to the EMC needs of the automotive industry, due to the campus' unique heritage and links to the automotive industry "Big Three". (This involvement with the automotive industry has now taken on a much deeper and comprehensive role due to many other automotive OEM's and suppliers locating in the Detroit area.) Late in 2001, the university did receive a grant from NSF for the establishment of an EMC laboratory to be located on campus. Key to this grant award was the recognition by NSF that the university has active involvement in the curriculum by automotive industry EMC professionals and that their contributions provide the important "real world" balance that is needed.
In early 2002, believing that there is need for EMC education of engineers currently working in the automotive industry, Mr. Steffka and Theresa Ceccarelli, Ph.D., (of the Engineering Professional Development Program office) designed, developed, and implemented a two-day course focused on automotive system EMC issues. The first course was held in October 2002, and had such an overwhelming response that a second course was added in December 2002. The participants reviews of these courses were very positive and have resulted in three (3) more sessions that are planned for 2003! A key element of the success of the course is due to each student receiving a copy of Dr. Paul's textbook "Introduction to EMC". This book is frequently used during the class to link automotive EMC issues to the concepts presented in the book. This approach allows the engineers to return to their workplace and immediately apply what they have learned as well as have an EMC reference book that they are familiar with.

ECE 319 student Dale Sanders enjoys conducting a laboratory experiment as part of the EMC lecture-based curriculum.

What's next for the University of Michigan - Dearborn EMC curriculum?

  • The completion of the laboratory facilities, including the re-assembling of a shielded room that was donated from the General Motors North American EMC test facility in Milford, Michigan,
  • Incorporation of laboratory experiments into the current lecture-based content of ECE 319 and ECE 420,
  • More extensive use of the laboratory by the engineers participating in the "Automotive System EMC" courses,
  • Future plans include continuing to add to the laboratory through either university purchases or by donations of instrumentation and hardware.

In summary, thanks to the initial grant from the IEEE EMC Society, the University of Michigan - Dearborn has been able to demonstrate its commitment to EMC education for both today's working engineers and engineering students (who will be tomorrow's engineers)! It is hoped that the seeds sown in this work will benefit many for years to come.
A special "Thanks" also goes to Henry Ott and Clayton Paul for their work in writing the texts that have become the core material for the campus' EMC educational programs.

Mark Steffka has over 20 years experience in the design, development, and testing of military, aerospace, and automotive electronics. He is currently an Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) Technical Specialist with the General Motors (GM) Powertrain Group, supporting the product engineering organization with respect to EMC design, testing, and specifications. He is also an Adjunct Lecturer at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, where he is the instructor for the EMC courses that are offered at the campus. His educational background consists of a B.S.E.-E.E., from the University of Michigan, and a M.S. in Management from Indiana Wesleyan University. His involvement in professional activities includes the Society of Automotive Engineers Electromagnetic Standards Committees, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Southeastern Michigan Chapter of the EMC Society. In 1998, he was the co-author of the "Automobiles" chapter in the ARRL RFI Book, which was published in 1998. He is an amateur radio operator (WW8MS) and was first licensed in 1975. He may be contacted at msteffka@umd.umich.edu EMC

If you would like to contact the IEEE Webmaster
© Copyright 2003, IEEE. Terms & Conditions. Privacy & Security

return to contents
IEEE logo