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Seth Baum,
NSF Graduate Fellow

NSF GK-12 Project: Northeastern University
GK-12-PLUS (Partners Linking Urban Schools)
URL: http://www.gk12.neu.edu

Thesis Title: User and Developer Interface Improvements To a Finite Difference Time Domain Code
College/University: Northeastern University

Research Advisor: Carey Rappaport

Degree Sought

University Department and/or Lab
Department of Electrical Engineering, CenSISS

Research Focus
My research focuses on computational electromagnetics for subsurface imaging.

Description of Research
For electromagnetics problems involving complicated source patterns, scattering objects, and inhomogeneous background media, analytical solutions to electromagnetic field solutions are usually not available. For these cases, numerical solutions are desired. Of the various numerical techniques available, the finite difference time domain (FDTD) method is emerging as the most popular technique due to its conceptual elegance and the completeness of the results it produces. Though FDTD has existed since 1966, it has only risen to prominence in recent years as the computer industry has made it possible and cost-effective to handle FDTD's significant memory requirements.

Several members of our group use a particular FDTD code to solve various electromagnetics problems and work on various improvements to the underlying computational technique. However, the code's use and extension has been restricted by its steep learning curve which forces users to learn the Fortran programming language, the FDTD technique, and the inner workings of the code itself, and its use was restricted to a limited set of predefined cases. I have been working on an enhancement of this code making it user- and developer- friendly.

Example of how my research is integrated into my GK-12 experience
I lead several lectures and class activities during the unit on optics of the AP Physics class I'm working with. During this time, students learned the basics of refraction, which is the bending of waves as they change speeds due to changing materials. While we solved very simple cases of refraction in class, I was able to explain to them how computer modeling techniques such as FDTD can be used to solve more complex cases.

Profile date: August 2007
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