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Development Of An Instructional Tutorial For Teaching Finite Element Analysis Using Ansys Workbench

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Curriculum Development in Mechanical Engineering Technology

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.419.1 - 13.419.8



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Paper Authors

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John Zecher Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis

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

Development of an Instructional Tutorial for teaching Finite Element Analysis using ANSYS® Workbench™ Abstract

During the past several years, use of finite element analysis (FEA) in industry has transitioned from a specialized tool, used primarily by full-time analysts, to one that is used by product engineers as an integral part of the design process. A major reason for this shift is that new FEA software packages, such as ANSYS Workbench, employ user interfaces that are similar to CAD systems. These packages provide automatic meshing capability and allow loads and constraints to be applied directly to the three-dimensional CAD model’s edges or surfaces, rather than requiring the user to work with traditional FEA objects like nodal points and elements.

This paper discusses the implementation of ANSYS Workbench within an MET finite element analysis course. In order to effectively teach finite element concepts and the ANSYS Workbench software, an instructional tutorial book and related multimedia CD-Rom have been developed. The tutorial not only contains material normally included in user’s manuals that cover only “the FEA tool”, but also material covered in traditional FEA textbooks that concentrate on the mathematical development of FEA theory.

The primary objective of the tutorial is to provide instructional material that will help both students and product engineers become responsible users of the finite element analysis program. Because the FEA process used in ANSYS Workbench is so much easier than those employed by previous generation FEA programs, there is a greater possibility of having unqualified users performing analyses and generating incorrect results. In order to avoid this situation, the tutorial focuses on providing a basic understanding of the underlying principles of FEA as well as a step- by-step guide of how to use the Workbench “tool”.


The course discussed in this paper is a junior level course that focuses primarily on using finite element analysis to solve linear stress analysis problems. Prerequisites to the course include Strength of Materials, and Machine Elements. Unlike some MET programs that have chosen to introduce FEA in their Statics or Strength of Materials courses1,2, the course described in this paper centers on FEA as the main focus. This approach allows concepts and equations developed during earlier courses to be reviewed and reinforced by comparing manual calculations with the results produced from the finite element model.

This finite element course differs from a typical engineering FEA course from the standpoint that it emphasizes the process of building finite element models rather than being theoretically based. The course begins by introducing basic FEA terminology and then covers the basic stiffness matrix approach using one-dimensional spring elements. The objective of this portion of the course is to give students a fundamental understanding of how FEA numerical computations are done. However, within the course, this is the only coverage of developing stiffness matrices.

Zecher, J. (2008, June), Development Of An Instructional Tutorial For Teaching Finite Element Analysis Using Ansys Workbench Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3645

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