CONTRIBUTION OF COMPUTER SIMULATION IN UNDERGRADUATE ELECTRIC CIRCUITS COURSES

C. Morón, E. Tremps, A. García, F.J. Maganto

Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (SPAIN)
Computers can be powerful tools if used properly, especially in the realms of science and engineering. Software exists for the simulation of electronic circuits by computer and these programs can be useful in helping circuit designers test ideas before actually building real circuits, saving much time and money.
The main advantages of using these computer simulations are: the reinforcement of student understanding of theoretical principles by means of enhanced graphical aids and interactive simulations, analysis of more complex systems that can be treated by pencil and paper, and the instructors ability to assign fairly complex design problems that otherwise would have be unrealistic without the help of such software.
These same programs can be fantastic aids to the beginning student of electronics allowing the exploration of ideas quickly and easily with no assembly of real circuits required. Of course, there is no substitute for actually building and testing real circuits, but computer simulations certainly assist in the learning process by allowing the student to experiment with changes and see the effects they have on circuits. By observing the results of a computer simulation a student can gain an intuitive grasp of circuit behavior without the intimidation of abstract mathematical analysis.
Student response concerning the use of these programs is generally favorable. One interesting response received from students is an increased interest in the subject material. It is also worth mentioning that the uses of these programs are no longer limited to a specific filed.