Penn State

Thomas B. Gabrielson - Senior Scientist - Applied Research Lab; Professor of Acoustics, Penn State University Park

Book Title: Engineering Electromagnetics, 2nd edition

Author: William H. Hayt, Jr.

Book Description:

Engineering Electromagnetics by William Hayt is hardly an inspiring title! But the personal impact of a book surely depends on context. Hayt was the text for the first advanced undergraduate course that I took. Electromagnetics is, traditionally, a difficult course: for a student of electrical engineering, as it is the first application of vector calculus. The book itself is ordinary in its coverage but the explanations are clear, the typography is pleasant, and the diagrams are well executed. It is the only one of my undergraduate texts that I keep on my office bookshelf. I don't refer to it often but, when I see it on the shelf, I remember the class. I remember the pleasure of reading about a subject that was so different from my earlier classes. I remember the clean layout of the pages and the satisfaction of seeing the connection between the text, the figures, and the lectures.

But, most of all, when I see the book, I remember the instructor. This course was the highlight of my undergraduate coursework. The instructor was brilliant. Wayne Clements was still working toward his Ph.D. at the time but that didn't matter. I can still picture him explaining the arcane curl of a vector field as he described maneuvering his canoe from eddy to eddy in the rapids of the upper Delaware River. It was in this class that I first learned the mathematical expression of that wonderful physical principle "what goes in must come out" -unless it stays there! (We give each special case of this principle a different name-- Gauss' Law, the Divergence Theorem, for example to prevent the uninitiated from realizing how simple physics really is.) Professor Clements was a teacher in the true sense of the word--we didn't have facilitators in those days. He knew that giving something a name (Gauss'Law) didn't explain the thing or make the thing better. He knew that his students needed to understand the thing, and he did whatever he could conjure to help us understand.

This book reminds me of those times. It reminds me of the feel of good communication--written communication through text and homework; aural and visual communication through the instructor. It reminds me that it matters how I speak, how I draw, and how I write. It reminds me that technology is only a tool: teaching and learning are personal.

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