Instructor Insights

Course Overview

This page focuses on the course 6.685 Electric Machines as it was taught by Prof. James L. Kirtley Jr. in Fall 2013.

This course is taught with a classical approach to electromechanics. The course is motivated by understanding phenomena and addressing design-oriented problems through a rigorous approach. Examples incorporate current research and emphasize applicability of concepts.

Course Outcomes

Course Goals for Students

  • Understanding of principles and analysis of electromechanical systems
  • Mastery of electromechanical design of the major classes of rotating and linear electric machines
  • Ability to estimate the dynamic parameters of electric machines

Possibilities for Further Study/Careers

This course is pretty much a terminal subject, as there is no more advanced material in this area taught at MIT. Students might also take 6.641 Electromagnetic Fields, Forces, and Motion , or courses in heat transfer and structures. Many students who take this course do graduate work in machines, and some pursue PhD’s in the topic. There is a very strong demand for people with a background in this area, so industrial jobs are plentiful for students as well.

Curriculum Information


6.061/6.690 Introduction to Electric Power Systems ; or permission of the instructor.

Requirements Satisfied

H-Level Graduate Credit


Every other fall semester

Student Information


Fewer than 10 students took this course in Fall 2013.

Breakdown by Year

The class for Fall 2013 was fairly small, and mainly comprised of Prof. Kirtley’s own graduate students. Prof. Kirtley shares some thoughts about the class composition: “This course has evolved into something of an apprenticeship for my own graduate students, and I would like to see more students enrolled in the subject. I would like it if MIT were to produce more graduates who know and understand electric machines and electromechanics.”

Breakdown by Major

Most of the students were PhD candidates in electrical engineering, and a small percentage were PhD candidates in mechanical engineering.

Typical Student Background

Typically, a student should have some background in electromechanics ( 6.061 Introduction to Electric Power Systems ) and circuits ( 6.002 Circuits and Electronics and 6.003 Signals and Systems ).

How Student Time Was Spent

During an average week, students were expected to spend 12 hours on the course, roughly divided as follows:


  • Met 2 times per week for 1.5 hours per session; 26 sessions total
  • 2 quizzes were administered during class sessions in lieu of lecture
  • Prof. Kirtley shares some thoughts about the course format: “I teach the subject in a very classical (lecture/problem set/quiz) fashion, but with a lot of personal contact: I am available to talk with, and argue with, students in the class. I really enjoy, and I think the students do too, the give and take that comes from arguing about advanced (‘hard’) problems.”

Out of Class

  • Readings from the course notes , which are recommended before attempting the assignments.
  • 11 problem sets , which are essential to students for mastering the material. Some of the problem sets may also involve the use of a program such as MATLAB® to help with the calculations.

Course Info

Learning Resource Types

assignment_turned_in Problem Sets with Solutions
notes Lecture Notes
grading Exams with Solutions
co_present Instructor Insights