Finite Element Analysis of Structures

Finite Element Analysis is one of the most widely used engineering analysis software tools for mechanical engineers. This course will equip you with skills and experience for your engineering career.

Finite Element Analysis of Structures

Course Outlines

See the course outlines on the University of Adelaide web site.

Undergraduate: MECH ENG 4118 - Finite Element Analysis of Structures

Masters by coursework: MECH ENG 7059 - Finite Element Analysis of Structures

Why you should take this course

This course is unlike most FEA courses that involve lengthy derivations and mathematics of finite elements, solvers, and some courses get you to write you own basic FEA software! Whilst that type of course might appeal to some, this course takes a pragmatic approach. Although it is important that students understand the basics of finite element analysis, as a professional engineer, it is very unlikely you'd ever write your own FE software. Instead, you are more likely to use a commercial package that has extensive capabilities, has been thoroughly validated, and can handle multi-physics.

In this course, you'll use the FEA software package ANSYS to solve numerous types of problems that you are likely to face as a mechanical engineer. The format of the course is usually one module per week covering an analysis type that involves a double lecture on the theoretical aspects, and then a double tutorial session using the ANSYS software in a computer laboratory. By the end of the course, you should have a good understanding of many of the important aspects of conducting an FEA, and be able to spot errors.

As a professional engineer, it is very likely that you will come across FEA in your career. You might be doing the FEA, or you might have to review a report, or arrange for a sub-contractor to do a FEA. You should be able to determine that the analysis has been formulated correctly and that the results are accurate.

Analysis Types

The 12-week course covers:

  • Design Modeller
  • Meshing
  • Static analyses
  • Non-linear, large deflections, pre-stressed and stress stiffening
  • Contact elements
  • Buckling, linear and non-linear
  • Modal analysis, including pre-stressed
  • Harmonic analysis
  • Rigid body dynamics
  • Introduction to explicit dynamics
  • Thermal, linear
  • Acoustic modal and harmonic analyses

FEA Project

Each week there are workshops that cover analysis types, and a companion lecture that covers the associated theory.

A large portion of the course, and assessment, involves students doing their own finite element analysis project, where a detailed engineering investigation is done to answer a specific question -- It is emphasised throughout the course that FEA is a "tool" to answer a question, and you need to choose the right tool, used in the right way, for a particular problem.

Students select challenging problems that stretch their engineering skills. Examples include:

  • Acoustic cloaking of a cylinder subjected to an incoming plane wave
  • Explicit dynamics of an object striking a plate
  • Transient thermal analysis of a piston
  • Crushing of a container filled with water
  • Acoustic meta-materials
  • Dynamic analysis of a vibration damper attached to the mesh of strings on a tennis racket
  • Pressure of a heart stent on the walls of an artery