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Since 1994, the University of Minnesota has been undertaking a long overdue restructuring of power electronics and electric machines/drives courses. This restructuring allows digital control to be integrated into first courses, thereby teaching students what they need to learn, making these courses appealing, and providing a seamless continuity to advanced courses. By a concise presentation in just two undergraduate courses, this restructuring motivates students to take related courses in programmable logic controllers, microcontrollers and digital signal processor applications. This ensures a first-rate education that is meaningful in the workplace as well as in graduate education leading to a research and development oriented career. This restructuring has several components to it. Outdated topics that waste time and mislead students are deleted. To integrate control in the first courses, unique approaches are developed to convey information more effectively. In the first course in power electronics, a building block is identified in commonly used power converter topologies in order to unify their analysis. In the field of electric drives, the use of space vectors is introduced on a physical basis to describe operation of ac machines in steady state in the first course, and to discuss their optimum control under dynamic conditions in the advanced course. Appropriate simulation software and software-reconfigurable hardware laboratories using a DSP-based rapid prototyping tool are used to support the analytical discussion.
Date of Publication: Jan 2003