A Practical Understanding of Finite Element Modeling and Analysis

Course Description: There are many classes available to today’s engineers that teach the mathematical framework for finite element analysis or the details on how to use a commercially available software code to build, process and post process a finite element model.   However, there are very few courses that focus on the practical understanding of finite element analysis (FEA) beyond basic quality, verification and validation checks of the model itself.  MTech’s Practical Understanding of Finite Element Modeling and Analysis course is meant to bridge the gap between the underlying mathematics taught in academia and details of specific software taught by the commercially available training. Our training places emphasis on the “modeling” aspect of FEA over the “meshing” aspect.  In order to give the students a higher level understanding of FEA principles, the course focuses on the what, where and why aspect of finite element modeling and analysis with a lesser emphasis on the underlying mathematics.  The course also provides insight into FEA requirements and deliverables best practices to help ensure analysis products are robust and meet the analysis intent.

Through lecture, examples and a class driven project, students will leave this class with an understanding of what to model and why. The goal is to eliminate blind acceptance of the interpretation of FEM results and replace it with discussions about why a certain area was chosen to be idealized in a specific way, does it adequately simulate the problem (failure mode) and are the results being used correctly for structural analysis.

Intended Audience:  Entry to mid-level design and stress engineers with an interest in FEA requirements and best practices as it relates to structural analysis.

Course Duration:  24 hours of instruction

Instructional Materials:  Each student will be provided a bound notebook containing all course materials with a thumb drive containing a digital copy of the course material and all example problem databases.


Schedule onsite training today
Let your team of engineers learn from our team of subject matter experts Contact MTECH


Course Outline


  • + -

    Section 1 - Brief introduction to the basics of the finite element method for structural analysis


    Basic definitions

    Degrees of freedom (DOF)

    Nodal stiffness

    Shape function and results

  • + -

    Section 2 - Idealization

    1D, 2D and 3D elements

    Elements designed for specific behaviors


    Fastener Idealization

    Mesh density and convergence

    – H Type Refinement

    – P Type Refinement

    Mesh placements and offsets

    Different levels of idealization

    Global/local modeling

  • + -

    Section 3 - Loading

    Applied forces or enforced displacement

    Embedding into the AVFEM

    Applying fastener loads to holes

    Thermal and Inertia loading

  • + -

    Section 4 - Constraining

    Trivial constraints

    Boundary representation

    – Using single point constraints (SPCs)

    Inertia Relief


    – Reducing the model to boundary matrices (K, P, M)

  • + -

    Section 5 - Linear vs. Nonlinear Analysis

    Elastic and differential stiffness

    Small versus large displacement

    Material models

    Linear Analysis

    Nonlinear Analysis

    Discussion of linear vs nonlinear analysis

  • + -

    Section 6 - Developing a plan to model



    – Idealization used

    – Element selection reasoning

    – Mesh density

    Applied loads and boundary conditions

    Type(s) of analysis to perform

  • + -

    Section 7 - Pre-processing the FEM model

    FEM level geometry

    Nodes, elements, materials and properties

    Loads and constraints

  • + -

    Section 8 - Processing in NASTRAN

    Setting up the modeling plan in NX Nastran

    Discussion on commonly used parameters for solving/debugging an analysis

    – Bailout

    – K6rot

    – AutoSPC

    – AutoMPC

    – WTMASS

  • + -

    Section 9 - Post processing results

    Validation and verification

    Extraction of results and description

    – Nodal results

    – Element results

    – Effects of data averaging

  • + -

    Section 10 – FEA Requirements and Deliverables

    What to include in a CDRL deliverable

    Checkout of the delivered data

    Storage of the FE Data

    Future uses of the FE Data

    Discussion on the benefits, limitations and considerations of finite element modeling and analysis