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Integrating Finite Element Analysis Into An Undergraduate Biomechanics Course

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Grad. and Upper Level Undergrad. BME Courses

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.691.1 - 7.691.5



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Paper Authors

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Renee Rogge

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

Main Menu Session 1309

Integrating Finite Element Analysis into an Undergraduate Biomechanics Course Renee D. Rogge, Ph.D. Mercer University


A course in finite element (FE) analysis is offered occasionally to biomedical engineering (BME) students at Mercer University as a technical elective through the mechanical engineering department. However, few BME students take this course. Since FE techniques in industry and academia has become widespread, particularly in the field of biomechanics, it was determined that some discussion of FE techniques was warranted in the senior-level biomechanics course. The FE module was designed to meet the course objectives stating that the students must be able to (1) describe the current uses of FE techniques in biomechanics, (2) apply the FE technique to a biomechanics problem in two-dimensions incorporating appropriate mesh parameters, material properties, boundary conditions and loading conditions, and (3) discuss the problems and limitations of the FE approach in biomechanics research. The integration of a FE module into the biomechanics course also served to reinforce several other course objectives. Through application of the FE technique, basic concepts of stress and strain were reinforced and students gained experience in the prediction of results and in the use of “sanity checks” when evaluating their results.

Student achievement was assessed using in-class assignments, homework assignments, a design project, and final exam questions. Student and instructor satisfaction with the FE module was high and student performance on the homework assignments, design project, and final exam questions was excellent.

Module Contents

Instructional Component The instructional portion of the module presented the basic concepts of the FE method, including the benefits and drawbacks of the approach. An in-class "pencil and paper" calculation of the displacement of nodes for a three-noded triangle was completed. The stiffness, load, and displacement matrices were developed, requiring discussions of material property specifications, loading conditions, and boundary conditions, respectively. Following the calculation of nodal displacement, other element types and node configurations were discussed.

Commercially available FE codes were discussed and the class went through the steps that would be common to each software package. These steps included implementing an accurate geometry, applying appropriate material properties, determining boundary and loading conditions, understanding mesh requirements, performing convergence tests, and validating model results.

“Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright Ó 2002, American Society for Engineering Education”

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Rogge, R. (2002, June), Integrating Finite Element Analysis Into An Undergraduate Biomechanics Course Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10160

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