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Electric Circuits (9th Edition) Hardcover – Jan 3 2010
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From the Back Cover
The most widely used introductory circuits textbook of the past 25 years. As this book has evolved over the years to meet the changing learing styles of students, importantly, the underlying teaching approaches and philosophies remain unchanged.The goals are: To build an understanding of concepts and ideas explicitly in terms of previous learning. To emphasize the relationship between conceptual understanding and problem solving approaches. To provide students with a strong foundation of engineering practices.For Students or anyone interested in electric circuits.
About the Author
Professor JAMES W NILSSON taught at Iowa State University for 39 years. Since retiring from Iowa State, he has been a visiting professor at Notre Dame, California Polytechnic at San Luis Obispo, and the United States Air Force Academy. In 1962, he co-authored (with R.G. Brown) Introduction to Linear Systems Analysis (John Wiley & Sons). In 1968, he authored Introduction to Circuits, Instruments, and Electronics (Harcourt Brae and World). Professor Nilsson received a Standard Oil Outstanding Teacher Award in 1968, the IEEE Undergraduate Teaching Award in 1992, and the McGraw-Hill Jacob Millman Award in 1995. In 1990, he was elected to the rank of Fellow in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
Professor SUSAN A. RIEDEL has been a member of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Marquette University since 1981. She also holds a clinical research appointment in the Department of Orthopaedics at the Medical College of Wisconsin and was a visiting professor in the Bioengineering Unit at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland, as a Fulbright Scholar during the 1989-90 academic year. She has received two awards for teaching excellence at Marquette, and was recognized for her research contributions with an award from the Chicago Unit of the Shriner's Hospitals.
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I think the text is well-written, the explanations are clear and concise and at exactly the level that sophomore EE/ECE students need. The examples are well-chosen and sufficient in number to effectively present the fundamental concepts.
What could be improved:
1. More general problems are needed that require the student to solve the circuits using generic components (R, L, C) instead of giving numeric values for all components. The purely numeric approach leads to a "sea of numbers" plug-and-chug solution that has little meaning to the student and even less value in terms of understanding circuit behaviour. Students need to get used to working their solutions into the standard algebraic forms that provide insight into the behaviour of the circut. (I have designed my labs to make up for this.)
2. The order of the topics assumes the student is taking their first course in differential equations concurrently, and so postpones the introduction of the LaPlace transform until near the end of the semester. Too much time is spent solving 1st and 2nd order linear, constant coefficient ODEs by methods engineers will never use again. This makes LaPlace methods look like an afterthought, when in fact it is how EEs actually work in the field.
All in all, I view this book as a very positive text, and will probably continue to use it. It does a good job of demonstrating the thinking required of an engineer, and helping the persistent student to develope it.
To the struggling student using this text:
More than likely your problems are with prerequite concepts. All circuits texts appropriate for this level assume you are good at algebra, trig, and calculus (no, I mean GOOD at them), and that you have completed 2 semesters of calculus-based physics. This is requred to learn the topic of circuit analysis at the level expected of you.
Also, you should not expect to learn the concepts in any engineering, physics, or upper level math class by simply mimicing examples. You must learn to generalize the fundamental concepts so that you can apply them in ways you haven't seen in an example. If you can't learn that, then you may want to consider a change in either attitude or major. Engineers are not "paid the big bucks" to solve problems that have already been solved before. You must develope the ability to think generally, and this entails a lot of time and effort. Unless you are a genius, there is some frustration inherent in the process. It is at these times that "the book sucks, the professor sucks, so I guess I'll go write a review on Amazon."
Your time would be more profitably spent making proper use of the examples in the book (and in your class notes). Before beginning your homework problems try working through all the examples without referring to the solution. Don't just read them, work them out on paper. Keep working the examples until you understand them, only then are you ready to begin the homework set. You might think you don't have time for this, but it will reduce your "head-banging time" later on. The examples are not intended to be templates into which you can substitute similar values from each assigned problem in order to produce an answer. That would be the opposite of helpful.
Conclusion: Use this book if you have to (i.e. you have to do the homework problems and turn them in), but if you have the means, get a second book to study from, do problems from. Then sell this book back when you are done with it and keep the other book.
The book is sloppily put together and laid out so that most of the time material that should be on one page together end up with half on each side of a page, making you flip back and forth between explanations and diagrams or two connected formulae. This makes it hard to skim for information. The material seems thrown at you arbitrarily. For instance, an explanation of branches, nodes, and loops comes in chapter 4, when that should have been covered from the beginning.
In most areas, the text also leaves out nuances that students with no previous circuit analysis experience need. As an example: The concept of a node and what can be considered a node is never made explicitly clear. The book expects you to make do with the idea that a node is a black dot on a circuit diagram, but at the same time expects you to know when you can reduce nodes in a transformation. Since this book is being used in a first-year electric circuits course with no prerequisite knowledge of electric circuits, all of these ommissions make learning the material much harder than it needs to be. It's as if the text was written by engineers for engineers, not for engineering students. The authors have clearly forgotten what it was like to learn this stuff the first time around, or else they are sadists.
I will also go on to describe the website connected to this text, since if the publisher has duped your school into using their site for homework, you will be forced to use it, at extra cost, in conjunction with this atrocity of book. You will be sad to see that the video solutions on the site are only to the most simple problems - nothing like what is actually graded. Their "study guides" only cover the first parts of the chapters and again are too simple to be of value. There is zero feedback if you get something wrong on the homework, so you will never know what mistake you made - which might have been as simple as formatting your answer incorrectly, because the site is ridiculously picky.
Maybe I am just stupid or something, but this book makes me want to shoot myself in the face. You will cry if you ever have to use this book, I promise. You will cry until your floors are soaked in salty tears and your downstairs neighbors complain of water damage to their ceiling.
A more suitable text for a beginning student is Electric Circuit Analysis by Charles J. Monier. I only hope I've found it in time to save my grade.
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