Mohamed Bakr

Teaching Electromagnetics Using Virtual Reality

Electromagnetics is a highly mathematical subject that most undergraduate students find intimidating.  The study of electromagnetics involves mastering relatively difficult vector analysis and calculus techniques.  It also involved the visualization of three-dimensional field distributions.  Many technologies such as wireless communications, radar applications, through-the-wall imaging, optical fiber communications, and satellite communications are based on the theory of electromagnetism.  We propose in this application to take teaching electromagnetics at McMaster University to the next level by exploiting Virtual Reality (VR).  Through a pair of virtual reality glasses attached to an electromagnetic solver, students will be able to virtually construct electromagnetic structures, set their material properties, and select the desired excitation.  Students will also be able to visualize the different electromagnetic field components.  More specifically, through using a virtual reality environment, they will also be able to move into different parts of the electromagnetic problem and visualize different fields, whether they are static or dynamic.  This approach is expected to enhance students’ understanding of electromagnetics.


Role as LTL Fellow

Developing a virtual reality tool for teaching electromagnetics

Why is this research important?

Electromagnetics is a very important subject.   It is the underlying concept behind wireless communications, radar technologies, biomedical imaging, etc.  Most students find learning electromagnetics difficult because of its abstract nature.  By introducing virtual reality we aim at eliminating the abstractness of the subject.  Students will be able to visualize the 3D fields in different parts of the domain.  This will help them better understand the complex 3D nature of electromagnetic fields.

How are you tackling this problem?

An electromagnetic solver will be connected with a pair of virtual reality glasses.  Students will be able to construct their structures and visualize the fields in the virtual world.  Two McMaster students will be involved in this project

What do you imagine the impact on student learning will be?

Using virtual reality, students will gain better understanding of electromagnetic fields whether they are static or dynamic.  This will encourage them to enroll in advanced electromagnetic studies.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

To give chocolates to students who participate in classroom activities!  Chocolates help break the ice and creates a friendly environment in the classroom.  

Who or what inspires you to teach and why?

Two of my colleagues inspired me to strive for excellence in teaching.  These two people are Professors Jim Reilly and Yaser Haddara.  Dr. Reilly is one of the best instructors in the ECE department.  Always very friendly and doing his best to simplify tough concepts.  By interacting with Dr. Haddara, I gradually transformed my teaching style to be able to conduct more enjoyable lectures without compromising the technical content.  I will always be indebted to these colleagues.