Applied Mechanics News

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Simple FEA Program for Students

I developed (with NSF support) a freely available, one-screen, web-based FEA program. It solves very simple mechanics problems, and more importantly, demonstrates FEA use to students and other beginners. The program is also particularly suited to helping students visualize deformations. Besides the program itself, I created prototype homework assignments that guide students through solving particular problems and viewing the solutions in light of strength of materials.

However, I need user input, from professors and instructors like you, or from your students. I am most interested in ideas on how students can benefit from using the program. For example, your input might include comments on how to improve the assignments that we have posted on the site. Or you might have completely new ideas for assignments or activities. While I'm not anxious to make the program more complicated by adding capabilities to solve additional types of problems, I'm open to suggestions on how to improve the program or interface, particular if it would help students learn.

For access to the program, the assignments, and additional materials, including papers on the educational philosophy behind the program, go to: At this point, the program only works on computers running Windows, and it requires the free Java browser plug-in.

Your input would be really appreciated. Send me email at or leave your comments below.


  • Paul: Excellent idea and very helpful tool. Standard finite element package such as ABAQUS is too complicated to be comfortably used in the introductory mechanics course. You have given a lot of thoughts about how to introduce new tools to mechanics education. It would be great if you can write about them.

    By Blogger Zhigang Suo, at 3/07/2006 5:44 AM  

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