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Finite Element Method as a Useful Modern Engineering Tool to Enhance Learning of Deformation Concepts

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Statics and Finite Element Analysis

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.776.1 - 26.776.18



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Paper Authors


Qin Ma Walla Walla University

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Dr. Qin Ma is a tenured professor at Edward F. Cross School of Engineering, Walla Walla University, WA, USA. He has been active in using finite element methods in his research and teaching for more than fifteen years.

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Louie L. Yaw Walla Walla University

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Currently Professor of Civil Engineering at Walla Walla University. Undergraduate degree in Civil engineering Walla Walla College in 1992. Masters in structural engineering from UC Davis 1996 and PhD from UC Davis in 2008. Licensed as a professional civil and structural engineer in California and Washington. Seven plus years of industry experience in the field of structural engineering. Approximately 13 years of teaching experience in undergraduate engineering.

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Finite Element Method as a Useful Modern Engineering Tool to Enhance Learning of Deformation Concepts Qin Ma Edward F. Cross School of Engineering Walla Walla University College Place, WA 99324, USA AbstractAs an advanced modern engineering tool, Finite Element Method (FEM) has been widelyadopted in current undergraduate engineering curricula, especially in the sector ofmechanical engineering. However, the usage of FEM as a tool integrated into otherfundamental engineering classes, such as statics and dynamics, fluid and thermal, andmechanics of solids, is not as common as one might suppose. In this paper, my attempt isto integrate this present-day very popular engineering tool to assist the teaching ofdeformation concepts in the mechanics of materials. The assessment results of teachingstrategies are presented. Due to the inherent complexity of FEM, a small finite elementanalysis (FEA) program, mini-FEA, developed by Professor Paul S. Steif at CarnegieMellon University about fifteen years ago, was used to illustrate the concepts and showquickly about how it works. For complex geometry, ANSYS Mechanical APDLprograms were created by the instructor so that the requirements of student interactionwith the program are minimal, so that their focus is on deformation concepts. The mini-FEA allows the instructor to provide a quick illustration of deformation concepts as wellas the basic steps in implementing FEM. The concepts of deformation mechanics aredemonstrated by graphical illustrations from both FEM and the traditional photoelasticitymethod used in the class. From the survey results, the advantage of using FEA to enhancestudent learning is clearly seen.

Ma, Q., & Yaw, L. L. (2015, June), Finite Element Method as a Useful Modern Engineering Tool to Enhance Learning of Deformation Concepts Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24113

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