Electrical Engineering 117 — Electromagnetic Fields and Waves (4 Units)

Course Overview


From Professor T. K. Gustafson’s introduction to the course: The goal of EE117 is to provide the basic skills required to understand, develop, and design various engineering applications involving electromagnetic fields, as well as to lay the foundations of electromagnetism and its practice in modern communications. Examples include wireless, guided wave principles such as fiber optics and electronic electromagnetic structures including those on the sub-micron scale. The course also aims to provide basic laboratory exposure to electromagnetic principles and applications.


  • EE16B
  • Math 53, 54
  • Physics 7B

Knowledge of Phasor Analysis

Topics Covered

  • Basic Electromagnetic Wave Relationships
  • Transmission Line Concepts and Applications
  • Introduction to Maxwell’s Equations
  • Intermediate Aspects of Maxwell’s Equations
  • Reflection and Transmission at Interfaces
  • Antennas, Radiation, Diffraction, and Wireless Systems
  • Electromagnetic Properties of Materials


Course Work

Varies significantly across instructors and semesters - Minilabs - Midterms - Final exam

Time Commitment

Lectures take place 3 hours per week and the minilabs are expected to take an hour each.

Choosing the Course

When to take

As there are several requirements for this class, it is preferable to the take the course later than sooner, after having a solid understanding of physics and calculus. Note that it is usually offered only once per academic year.

What's next?

  • EE210: Advanced E&M Theory
  • EE216: Antennas and Propagation
  • EE217: Microwave Circuits

Usefulness for Research or Internships

An antenna guru is a hard thing to find in the real world. If you take this class, grok it, and become "that guy," even if you're just able to be in a meeting with comms and signals people and answer simple questions about why this antenna won't work for their proposed system, you'll make a huge splash at your work.

Additional Comments/Tips

As there is limited information about this course, it is highly recommended (as with all courses that are tailored to a specific field) to talk to the professor who is scheduled to teach the course and directly discuss with him or her what the course will entail. Although we provide course guides, these only scratch the surface of what the course can really offer, and the professor can give you a better idea of what to expect.

Last Updated: Summer 2020