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Prahlad in 23 lab

If you read the description for Distributed Systems and Fields (ENGS 23) on the Thayer School of Engineering website, you might be confused. You might ask, "What do people even do in ENGS 23?" Well, I was mystified too before this term started, but I have to say that the class is a lot more exciting than it may seem.

ENGS 23 is a required course for the Bachelor of Engineering (BE), an accredited engineering degree. For more information on the BE, check out my previous blog post here. ENGS 23 builds off information taught in Systems (ENGS 22), a required course for undergraduate engineering majors.

ENGS 23 textbook
Our textbook.

At the beginning of the term we were all given a thick textbook written especially for the class by our professor, Ulf Österberg, and professor Eric Hansen. While professors promoting their own textbook can be an iffy scenario, in this case our textbook, nicknamed SFW for System, Fields, and Waves, is extremely helpful in understanding content.

ENGS 23 lab scope output
Our oscilloscope output showing effects of the open termination end condition of our coaxial cable.

ENGS 23 lab resistor
We attached this resistor to the end of our stripline to see the effects of nearly-matched resistance on our voltage.

ENGS 23 includes four labs that take place outside of class hours. These labs enable us to get hands-on experience with the concepts presented in the course. Our most recent lab was on the Electrical Transmission line. The lab allowed us to look at the effect of the cable itself on transmission of a signal. In the lab we sent a square wave input into a 60 ft coaxial cable as well as a stripline and saw signal reflection within the cables due to different end conditions. 

In addition to our labs, we have weekly problem sets. These are difficult, yet rewarding. Last week in our problem set we modeled the movement of a CO2 molecule using a mass-spring model. We found an equation to describe modes of the molecule such as symmetric stretch, asymmetric stretch, and bending! How cool is that?

In our most recent homework, we used Fourier series to approximate functions. If you are taking calc in high school, you might be familiar with Taylor series. A Fourier series is similar to this, but instead of using a series of power functions, for a Fourier series you use sine and cosine functions! It is amazing that we can describe x^2, a triangle wave, or even a sawtooth wave with these periodic functions! 

Scope output ENGS 23 lab
Our scope output from the stripline.

ENGS 23 is much more enjoyable than I expected when I signed up for the course, mostly because Professor Österberg does a great job at making the complex material of the course exciting.

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