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An Approach to Teaching the Finite Element Method That Uses Best Practice Techniques From Industry

[+] Author Affiliations
Michael W. Sracic

Milwaukee School of Engineering, Milwaukee, WI

Paper No. IMECE2016-65378, pp. V005T06A002; 10 pages
  • ASME 2016 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 5: Education and Globalization
  • Phoenix, Arizona, USA, November 11–17, 2016
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5057-2
  • Copyright © 2016 by ASME


Finite element analysis has become an essential part of the formal design process since it can be used to verify the functionality and life of design components in their loading environments. For large engineering firms with numerous analysts that have varying years of experience, it can be challenging to ensure that analysis results are accurate and free of modeling errors. A finite element analysis checklist (FEA Checklist) can be used as a desktop tool to provide an auditing procedure that each analyst has to follow to prove to both supervisors and, more importantly, customers that the finite element models were created and solved correctly such that the results can be trusted.

In this work, an approach to teaching an introduction to the finite element method for undergraduates is proposed. The proposed course structure includes lectures for theoretical development, where the theory is developed using familiar undergraduate mechanics and mathematics concepts, and a computational practicum, where the practicum uses approaches based on industry finite element analysis techniques.

In the computational practicum, students are tasked with using a finite element analysis checklist to complete all of their analysis projects. During a recent offering of the course, the students were anonymously surveyed regarding the utility of the finite element analysis checklist. 100% of the students agreed that the checklist provided a useful tool to help them understand and execute the finite element method, and nearly half of them agreed strongly.

Copyright © 2016 by ASME



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