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MATLAB-Based Finite Element Analysis in a Vibrations Class

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Computer Programming and Simulation

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.889.1 - 24.889.26



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Paper Authors


John R. Baker University of Kentucky

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John R. Baker is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Kentucky Extended Campus Program in Paducah, KY. He received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Kentucky in Lexington, KY. After obtaining his B.S., he spent three years working in the Plastics Division of Eastman Chemical Products, Inc. He entered his current position in July 2000.

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MATLAB-Based Finite Element Analysis in a Vibrations ClassThis paper overviews MATLAB-based assignments developed and implemented in a mechanicalvibrations class which utilize finite element analysis (FEA) for structural vibration calculations.The course is dual level and includes upper-level undergraduates taking it as a technical elective,and graduate students taking it for graduate credit. In dual level courses, there are additionalrequirements for graduate credit as compared to the work required for undergraduate credit. Thecourse is offered via ITV (Interactive Television).A primary component of the paper is an overview of a graduate student project that requires thestudents to produce a flexible FEA program to analyze beam vibration using a MATLAB script.This work is intended to solidify for the students the basics of structural vibration analysis,including calculation of natural frequencies and mode shapes, and also forced harmonic responseanalysis. It also provides an introduction to some students on FEA. Those who already haveFEA experience gain more insight into development of a structural model, including mass,stiffness, and damping matrices, than they may obtain from use of standard FEA software, suchas ANSYS. Also, the students gain valuable programming experience, and better knowledge ofthe widely-used mathematical software tool, MATLAB.While undergraduates are not required to develop an FEA program, they utilize the finiteelement method through MATLAB scripts provided to them, and the programming approach isoutlined in lecture material.In the assignments, students compare finite element results to results based on other analysismethods to verify for them that the finite element analysis method is reliable. They also compareresults from FEA implemented using MATLAB scripts to results from the commercial FEAsoftware, ANSYS. The assignments provide some insight into important issues such as howresults can be impacted by mesh density. This computational work complements a moretraditional coverage of vibrations topics, which is the main basis of the course. 

Baker, J. R. (2014, June), MATLAB-Based Finite Element Analysis in a Vibrations Class Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--22822

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