Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering
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AEM 4502: Computational Structural Analysis

Catalog Description



AEM 4502

Computational Structural Analysis

3 Credits


Catalog Description:


Application of finite element methods to problems in structural analysis. Emphasis on properly posing problems and interpreting calculation results. Use of commercial FEA packages. Introduction to the theory of finite elements.


Course Web Address:


Prerequisites by Topic:


  1. Intermediate structural analysis (AEM 4501)




A First Course in the Finite Element Method, 5th Edition, Logan, CENGAGE Learning, 2012

Lawrence, ANSYS Tutorial, Release 14, 2011, SDC, 9781585034000

Optional: ANSYS Workbench Tutorial, Release 14, Lawrence, SDC, 9781585033973


Format of Course:


3 hours of lecture per week


Computer Usage:


Matlab program files (locally written 3-D truss analysis program)

ANSYS (Commercial FEA package)


Course Objectives:


This course introduces computational analysis of structures and the practice of using programs to solve structural problems. Background in finite element analysis is developed.


Course Outcomes:


Students who successfully complete the course will demonstrate the following outcomes by tests, homework, and written reports.


  1. Ability to formulate a properly posed structural analysis problem.
  2. Ability to solve structural analysis problems using a FEA package.
  3. Basic understanding of finite element analysis.
  4. An understanding of the use of structural analysis as a design tool.
  5. Ability to communicate analysis results effectively.


Relationship of course to program objectives:


This course provides an introduction to structural analysis using finite elements which is important for aerospace engineers interested in structural design.


Relationship of course to program outcomes:


This course provides the following outcomes:


  1. Apply mathematics
  2. System design
  3. Identify engineering problems
  4. Communication skills
  5. Lifelong learning
  6. Engineering tools
  7. Structures


Course Outline:


(Hrs, approx.)

Topics (not in order)


Truss Problems


Frame Problems


Plane and 3-D elasticity, Properly posed problems


Theory of Finite Elements


ANSYS software


Additional topics such as stress concentrations, thermal problems.



Outcome Measurement:


Outcomes are measured through projects and exams.


Student Survey Questions:


This course improved my ability to do the following:


1.      Ability to apply knowledge of math, science, and engineering.

2.      An ability to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems using numerical methods

3.      The textbook was clearly written and appropriate for the course.

4.      The homework helped me to understand the concepts presented in the course.

5.      The tests were appropriate in length and content.

6.      The level of work required in this course was appropriate for the credit given.


In this course I acquired the following:


7.      A knowledge of the principles of finite element analysis

8.      A knowledge of formulation of structural problems.

9.      A knowledge of the role of computational structural analysis in the design of structures.


Last modified:





Last Modified: 2007-07-24 at 10:04:45 -- this is in International Standard Date and Time Notation