ME 471: Introduction to Finite Element Analysis

Class Description:

The finite element method and its applications to engineering problems: truss and frame structures, heat conduction, and linear elasticity; use of application software; overview of advanced topics such as structural dynamics, fluid flow, and nonlinear structural analysis. Prerequisite: CS 101 and ME 370, or consent of instructor. 3 undergraduate hours or 4 graduate hours. Credit is not given for more than one of the following courses: CEE 470, and ME 471. Same as AE 420 and CSE 451.


1. Introduction and review matrix methods

2. Fundamentals of finite elements

3. Application to solid mechanics: truss elements, beam elements, plate and shell elements, constant strain triangle, vibration problems

4. Programming commercial packages (e.g., ANSYS, ABAQUS, and/or FIDAP)

5. Application to heat transfer: one-dimensional, two-dimensional, transient problems, thermal stress

6. Advanced topics: numerical integration methods, isoparametric elements, fluid mechanics and nonlinear problems


This course has heavy computational demands with students writing, compiling, running, and extracting results from their own program(s) implementing the finite element method in FORTRAN and in addition, using a commercial finite element package (ANSYS, ABAQUS or FIDAP) to solve a practical problem. This is done in a UNIX environment on graphics terminals attached to an HP9000 minicomputer in the department computer laboratory, the CSO Convex, or other available computer workstations.



ME: MechSE or technical elective.

EM: Possible secondary field, with approval.

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