Finite Element Analysis Fundamentals


This course is meant for engineers with little background or experience in engineering analysis using finite elements. These could include recently hired engineers, test engineers, or project engineers who want to gain an understanding of FEA.


The goal of this one-day course is to give students a general flavor of what finite elements are all about; their advantages, disadvantages, what constitutes a simple vs. a difficult problem, and some questions to ask when reviewing a FE model and results.

The course will introduce and define the nomenclature used by finite element analysts. Basic concepts such as equilibrium, stiffness matrix, mesh density, importing CAD solid geometry, boundary conditions, and shape function will be defined. It is not intended to teach the specifics of the theory nor how to perform a finite element analysis.

The course will present material in five main parts. The attendees will first be given a broad introduction to finite element analysis: what it is, what it can and cannot do, and what information is required to perform an analysis and evaluate results. The second section will describe the theoretical background and introduce how finite element theory is used to simulate the behavior of real physical structures. In part three, a review of the fundamental types of finite elements will be presented, so that attendees will understand the difference between beam, shell, and continuum elements.

In part four, an overview of how finite element analysis is performed in practice and the steps an analyst takes in using a computer to predict structural behavior is presented. This section will discuss the importing of CAD geometry to use as basis of the finite element model, meshing the geometry to create the finite elements in the geometry, defining material properties, applying boundary conditions, and solving the governing equations to obtain the solution. Additional information on reviewing the results and checking for accuracy and errors is included. Experienced-based insights will be presented throughout, such as what steps are typically the most difficult or time-consuming, and a description of common errors that can arise.

The course closes with a discussion of some more advanced topics, such as the difference between linear and nonlinear analysis, and static versus dynamic analysis.

The course will consist of lecture and discussion only; students will not run any code on a computer.

General Information

Seminars begin promptly at 9 a.m. and finish at approximately 5 p.m. each day. Please arrive by 8:45 a.m. The seminar fee includes: course manuals, full color workshop manuals, & instruction. Coffee & donuts in the morning & lunch are provided for each student.  Students must make their own travel arrangements. CAE Associates recommends against purchasing non-refundable airline tickets. Please see our course cancellation policy for more details.