The Clemson University Vehicular Electronics Laboratory

Essential Grounding and Shielding Concepts for System Design


Well designed electronic systems operate reliably in their intended electromagnetic environment. They are not affected by voltage spikes on their power or signal lines; they function normally in the presence of strong electric or magnetic fields; and the systems’ own fields do not interfere with other systems nearby. In a well designed system, the cost of grounding, shielding and filtering is usually a negligible percentage of the overall system component costs. Unfortunately, many electronic systems are not well designed. It is not unusual for a company to spend millions of dollars and thousands of man-hours attempting to track down and correct system malfunctions that are the direct result of improper grounding and shielding. This course reviews the fundamental grounding, filtering and shielding concepts that all engineers need to be familiar with in order to ensure the safety and reliability of their products at the lowest possible cost.

A380 cockpit electronics


Cables in a rack of electronic equipment
Course Outline
  1. Introduction
    • Overview of Electromagnetic Compatibility Failure Mechanisms
    • Examples of Good and Bad System Designs
  2. Current Flow in Systems
    • Tracing Current Paths
    • Concept of Least Impedance
  3. Coupling Mechanisms
    • Common-Impedance Coupling
    • Electric Field Coupling
    • Magnetic Field Coupling
    • Radiated Coupling
  4. Grounding
    • Ground vs. Signal Return
    • Isolated Grounds
    • Grounding Strategies for Large Systems
    • Grounding Strategies for Black Boxes
  5. Shielding
    • Shielding Theory
    • Electric Field Shielding
    • Magnetic Field Shielding
    • Shielded Enclosures
    • Cable Shields
  6. Filtering
    • High-Frequency Behavior of Components
    • Power Line Filtering
    • High-Frequency Filtering
  7. Troubleshooting System-Level EMC Problems
    • Identifying the Source
    • Identifying the Coupling Mechanism
    • EMC Troubleshooting Tools and Techniques
Course Instructor
Prof. Todd Hubing

Prof. Todd H. Hubing

Phone: (864) 656-7219


To schedule an offering of this course in your city or at your company, contact the Clemson Vehicular Electronics Laboratory at Questions concerning the course content can be addressed directly to the instructor listed above.