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Development Of Engineering Case Studies For Integrating Finite Element Analysis Into A Mechanical Engineering Curriculum

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Emerging Trends in Engineering Education Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.469.1 - 10.469.11



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Paper Authors

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Stewart Prince

author page

Robert Ryan

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

Development of Engineering Case Studies for Integrating Finite Element Analysis into a Mechanical Engineering Curriculum

Dr. Robert G. Ryan, Dr. Stewart P. Prince

California State University, Northridge


The Mechanical Engineering Department at California State University, Northridge uses SolidWorks and related analysis applications such as CosmosWorks and FloWorks as the computational tools of choice for solid modeling (CAD) and finite element analysis (FEA). Originally the use of these tools was concentrated in the senior design capstone course, but one of the Department’s goals is to integrate the use of this software throughout the curriculum. While the addition of new freshman and sophomore design courses have helped to fulfill this mission, some engineering courses have been slow to adopt the use of FEA for solving practical design problems. Barriers for adopting FEA in traditional engineering courses include time constraints related to covering the necessary breadth of material and the learning curve for faculty who are not especially proficient with creating complex assemblies in SolidWorks. An approach for lowering these barriers is to create SolidWorks model files for a number of engineering case studies in a variety of mechanical engineering disciplines. These files and associated documentation are made available to faculty and students to facilitate the assignment of design problems which require the use of FEA for their solution. Use of a Design Table to vary key geometric dimensions by referencing SolidWorks objects via the Applications Programming Interface allows a student to easily create modified parts and analyze the effect of the changes with the appropriate FEA package. This paper describes models that have been created for courses in fluid mechanics and machine design. Emphasis is placed on a specific assignment created for a fluid mechanics course, including a comparison of the results from FloWorks with one-dimensional flow models. A preliminary assessment of the effectiveness of this assignment for demonstrating the role of FEA in analysis and design is also given.


The use of finite element analysis (FEA) tools is a necessary component of today’s undergraduate mechanical engineering programs. This is obvious from the commonplace use of solid modeling and FEA in industry and is articulated in ABET’s definition of learning outcomes related to the use of modern engineering tools. The use of new tools provides opportunities and challenges for engineering educators. The proper role of mathematical software packages in engineering education was discussed by Whiteman and Nygren1. Among their conclusions was that the use of software can reduce time spent on computations and thus allow students more time to concentrate on problem formulation and implementation of solutions. However, there is a

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Prince, S., & Ryan, R. (2005, June), Development Of Engineering Case Studies For Integrating Finite Element Analysis Into A Mechanical Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14362

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