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Assessment Of A Common Finite Element Analysis Course

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Student Learning and Assessment

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.212.1 - 15.212.16



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Paper Authors

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Raghu Echempati Kettering University

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Enayat Mahajerin Saginaw Valley State University

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Anca Sala Baker College Of Flint

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract



This paper discusses the outcome of the common assessment of a sample introductory undergraduate/graduate level course on finite element analysis (FEA) taught at three different local four-year engineering colleges, namely, Baker College and Kettering University (Flint, MI), and Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU, Saginaw, MI). The assessment is based on the commonly used course topics and based on identifying the common course learning objectives (CLOs). CLOs are then mapped with ABET’s program outcomes (POs). Assessment tools such as class work, home work, quizzes, tests, as well as the final exam and/or final project work with presentations are used to assess the performance of the students. The rationale for writing this paper is to understand the variation if any in students’ understanding of the material on their overall performance in the class. Variation is to be expected since the student population is different (full time versus part time, graduate versus undergraduate) and the course is taught by different instructors. However, usage of common CLOs, course topics, and assessment tools used reveal that the students lack knowledge in pre-requisites and also had problems using CAE tools compared to using math tools for FEA. Finite element analysis (FEA) course typically requires pre-requisites knowledge in Statics, Mechanics of Materials and to some extent Engineering Materials, Computer Aided Modeling and Machine Design. Although many students at these colleges usually take FEA as seniors, there are a few graduate students at Kettering who take this class. Some of whom are on-campus while few others are off campus (distance learning) students. Both math and CAE tools are typically used for this course with more emphasis on finite element methods rather than finite element modeling using a CAE tool. The math tools such as MatLAB involve using matrix algebra for most part to solve the equations obtained by either direct stiffness method or by energy methods for 1D and 2D problems. CAE tools involve modeling components that involve simple or complex geometry, and solving those using SOLID EDGE/UG/ANSYS/IDEAS software. Results of assessment will be presented in the form of charts and tables and discussed in detail. A sample assessment and evaluation form will also be included in the paper.


More and more universities are teaching basics of finite element analysis at the undergraduate level with more emphasis on theory at the graduate level. For the undergraduates though, there should be a balanced approach between basic theory coverage and more simulations using numerical computation. In this paper the experiences gained in teaching this course at three different schools under three different students and class settings is discussed. For most part, common CLOs have been identified and the assessment based on those is discussed using charts and tables. Numerous papers on this subject are available in the literature which is briefly included in the next section. Sample feedback from students is also included at the end of this paper.

Echempati, R., & Mahajerin, E., & Sala, A. (2010, June), Assessment Of A Common Finite Element Analysis Course Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16259

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