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Basic FEA

July 24th - August 28th, 2018
07:00 PDT / 10:00 EDT / 15:00 BST / 16:00 CEST 
Five-Session Live Online Training Course - 2.5/3 hours per session
PDH Credits - 15*
Attend the live sessions, or view the recordings at your convenience

New to FEA and concerned about how to use it in the real world?

This course gives you practical advice with a minimum of theory.

Ideal for design engineers wanting to learn more about the basics of FEA

The course offers excellent guidance on how to assess and plan the task of carrying out structural analysis using FEA.

Finite Element Analysis is a powerful, widely used and universally accepted technique. However, for those new to FEA there is a steep learning curve to overcome, with a bewildering array of:

  • element types
  • solution types
  • meshing methods
  • loading and constraint methods
  • pre-post processing options

This is before we get down to the engineering physics behind the problem, with associated classic traps and errors. What is needed is guidance via a thorough but practical assessment of the method and how to use it in the real world. 

Content includes:

  • Background to FEA
  • Defining your objectives and planning your analysis
  • Making healthy models
  • Real-world constraints and loading
  • Engineering assessment – is your model realistic
  • Integrating with CAD and geometry
  • Checking the answers – guilty until proven innocent!


Why an e-learning class?

Travel and training budgets are always tight! The e-Learning course has been developed to help you meet your training needs.

If your company has a group of engineers, or specific training requirements across any subjects, please contact us to discuss options.

Course Program

This is a five-session online training course, with each session lasting for approximately 2.5/3 hours, depending on homework submissions, questions & discussions.

You can attend the sessions live, and/or by listening to the recordings, which will be made available shortly after the end of each session.

Session 1

  • History and background
  • FEA Process
  • Element Stiffness Matrices
  • Avoiding Free Motion
  • Spreadsheet Bar Solver
  • Degrees of Freedom
  • Homework

Session 2

  • Homework review
  • Displacement shape functions
  • Element Types
  • A sanity check on FEA
  • A simple case study
  • Beam structure example
  • Homework

Session 3 

  • Homework review
  • Controlling DOF
  • Special elements and methods
  • Element stress inaccuracies
  • Convergence checking 
  • Homework

Session 4 

  • Homework Review
  • Local Stress Raisers
  • Real World Boundary Conditions
  • Real World Loading
  • Summary of FEA Model Checks
  • Checks prior to analysis
  • Pre Processor and Meshing Checks
  • Auxiliary Analysis Checks
  • Solver Checks
  • Post Processor Checks
  • Reporting
  • Homework

Session 5 

  • Making Life Simpler
  • Cylinder Example
  • Understanding the Objective of an FEA analysis
  • Looking Critically at CAD Geometry
  • Why Not Use 20 Million Elements
  • Homework

Session 6 

  • Free Body Diagrams
  • Types of stresses
  • Assessing Stresses
  • Checking Results
  • Load Paths
  • Other Solution Types
  • Conclusions
  • Homework

Feedback from former e-Learning students:

"This course did everything right. From organization to presentation to interaction, this is a good model for what online training should be."


"Tony's command over the subject and excellent teaching skills made this course worthwhile."


"Super! Doesn't get better than this. Good idea to start having e-Learning courses."


"I'm really happy not to pay a big fraction of my annual training budget to airlines and hotels. A BIG plus to e-learning."



PSE Competencies addressed by this training course


ID Competence Statement
FEAkn1 List the various steps in the analysis/simulation process.
FEAkn2 Define the meaning of degree of freedom.
FEAkn3 List the nodal degrees of freedom and the associated force actions for common beam, 2D solid, 2D axisymmetric, 3D solid and shell elements, for the Displacement FEM.
FEAkn4 Define the meaning of adaptive mesh refinement
FEAkn7 Name other finite element methods.
FEAkn8 List the requirements for an axisymmetric analysis to be valid.
FEAkn9 List the degrees of freedom to be constrained on a symmetric boundary.
FEAkn11 Sketch problems showing the various form of symmetry.
FEAkn12 List the advantages of using symmetry.
FEAkn14 List the possible advantages of applying material properties, loads and boundary conditions to underlying geometry rather than to finite element entities.
FEAkn15 List 2 common solvers for large sets of simultaneous equations.
FEAkn16 List the various forms of element distortion.
FEAkn17 List the various element types commonly used in the analysis of components within your organisation.
FEAco1 Describe the sources of error inherent in finite element analysis, in general terms.
FEAco2 Discuss checks that may be used post-solution to check for the presence of inaccuracy.
FEAco3 Explain the term solution residual.
FEAco4 Explain the meaning of convergence, including h and p types.
FEAco5 Discuss the difficulties that can arise in using a CAD model as the basis for carrying out analysis and simulation.
FEAco6 Discuss the need for a consistent set of units in any analysis and illustrate possible pitfalls.
FEAco7 Explain why strains and stresses are generally less accurate than displacements for any given mesh of elements, using the Displacement FEM.
FEAco8 Discuss the validity of using symmetry techniques to model non-symmetric problems.
FEAco9 Explain the meaning of the term ill-conditioned when used in the context of a set of solution equations and illustrate physical situations where this might reflect reality.
FEAco11 Discuss the finite element / spring analogy.
FEAco13 Explain how the structural stiffness matrix is assembled from the individual element matrices.
FEAco14 Discuss the nature of the structural stiffness matrix.
FEAco16 Discuss the salient features of the integral equation for Consistent Nodal Loading.
FEAco17 Explain the process of Gaussian Quadrature and the terms Reduced Integration, Shear Locking and Mechanisms.
FEAco19 Discuss the general requirements for suitable Displacement Functions.
FEAco20 Discuss the terms C0 and C1 Continuity.
FEAco23 Explain the Equilibrium and Compatibility conditions, normally found within and between displacement elements.
FEAco28 Explain why element distortion generally results in poorer results.
FEAco32 Explain the concept of substructuring, where applicable and highlight common limitations of use.
FEAco33 Describe the process of nested or submodelling.
FEAco36 Discuss how developments in computing power and system functionality are affecting modelling strategies, highlighting techniques that are falling into disuse.
FEAco37 Discuss modelling issues related to wind, sea, and other relevant forms of stochastic loading.
FEAco40 Explain the rationale behind the use of 1-D, 2-D and 3-D elements used in the analysis of components within your organisation.
FEAap1 Employ an analysis system for the determination of stresses and strains in small displacement, linear elastic problems.
FEAap4 Illustrate the various steps in the Displacement Finite Element Method from assumed displacement polynomial to determination of stresses.
FEAap9 Employ cyclic symmetric boundary conditions effectively, where appropriate.
FEAap11 Illustrate consistent nodal loadings for uniform loading on a range of common linear and quadratic shell, 2D and 3D solid elements and note any unusual features.
FEAap12 Employ a range of post-solution checks to determine the integrity of FEA results.
FEAap13 Conduct validation studies in support of FEA.
FEAap14 Carry out sensitivity studies.
FEAan1 Analyse the results from small displacement, linear static analyses and determine whether they satisfy inherent assumptions.
FEAan2 Compare the results from small displacement, linear  elastic analyses with allowable values and comment on findings.
FEAan3 Analyse the results from sensitivity studies and draw  conclusions from trends.
FEAsy1 Prepare an analysis specification, including modelling strategy, highlighting any assumptions relating to geometry, loads, boundary conditions and material properties.
FEAsy2 Develop an analysis strategy that enables the relative significance of individual model parameters and their interactions to be evaluated.
FEAsy3 Plan an analysis, specifying necessary resources and timescale.
FEAsy4 Prepare quality assurance procedures for finite element analysis activities within an organisation.
FEAsy8 Prepare a validation plan in support of a FEA study.
FEAev2 Assess the significance of neglecting any feature or detail in any idealisation.
FEAev3 Assess the significance of simplifying geometry, material models, loads or boundary conditions.
FEAev5 Manage verification and validation procedures in support of FEA.
MESMkn6 Sketch the graph of force versus deflection for a linear elastic spring and identify the potential energy and the complementary energy.
MESMkn9 Sketch a general 3D stress element showing all stress components.
MESMkn10 Sketch Mohr Circle for a simple tensile test specimen, illustrating the plane of maximum shear.
MESMkn11 Define Hooke's Law.
MESMkn12 Define Poisson's Ratio.
MESMkn13 Define the relationship between Young's Modulus, Poisson's Ratio and Shear Modulus.
MESMkn14 Sketch the through-thickness shear stress distribution in a rectangular beam subjected to a shearing load.
MESMkn15 List the equations for the hoop and longitudinal stresses in an internally pressurised thin sphere and a thin cylinder with remote end closures.
MESMkn16 Sketch the contact normal stress distribution for a circular pin in lug with a circular hole.
MESMkn17 List the section properties for a range of common shapes, including hollow circular.
MESMkn18 List various Failure Hypotheses / Criteria.
MESMkn19 State an appropriate failure criteria for brittle materials.
MESMkn20 Define Tresca and von Mises Stress for a 3D stress state.
MESMkn21 State the elastic Constitutive Relations in 2D, for a homogeneous, isotropic material.
MESMco1 Discuss the term Rigid Body and explain its significance in relation to any analysis.
MESMco2 Explain the terms Uniaxial, Biaxial and Triaxial Stress.
MESMco3 Explain the significance of the terms Equilibrium, Compatibility and Constitutive Relations.
MESMco4 Discuss the terms True Stress and Natural Strain.
MESMco5 Describe the stress distribution around a hole in an infinite plate subjected to uniaxial tension.
MESMco6 Sketch deformed shapes, shear force, bending moment and torque diagrams, for simple structures.
MESMco9 Discuss the uncertainties typically present in analyses and explain how these are handled.
MESMco10 Explain the term Statically Indeterminate and illustrate with a few examples.
MESMco11 Explain the significance of the assumption plane sections remain plane in relation to beam bending.
MESMco12 Explain when deflection due to shear starts to become significant with beams, plates and shells.
MESMco14 Provide examples of Plane Stress and Plane Strain.
MESMco15 Explain the Tresca and von Mises Failure Criteria in 2D, sketching the failure surface.
MESMco16 Discuss the stress states that give rise to maximum differences between the Tresca and von Mises criteria.
MESMco17 Discuss the Principle of Superposition and its limitations.
MESMco18 Explain how St. Venant's Principle may be of use in FEA.
MESMco19 Explain how the interaction of stress concentrations may be handled.
MESMap1 Employ Free Body Diagrams effectively.
MESMap2 Use tables to retrieve stress concentration data for common configurations.
MESMap8 Evaluate deformed shapes, shear force, bending moment and torque diagrams for simple structures.
MESMan1 Use tabulated formulae or first principles to determine deflections and stresses for simple, beam, plate and shell problems, as a check on values from FEA.
MESMsy1 Plan analysis strategies.
BMPSkn2 Sketch typical beam, membrane, plate and shell elements showing degrees of freedom and corresponding force actions.
BMPSco1 Describe the basic differences between a membrane, a plate and a shell.
BMPSco2 Explain the term and significance of a drilling degree of freedom for a shell element (rotational freedom normal to the shell surface).
BMPSco3 Discuss, in general terms, the assumptions inherent in beam, plate or shell theory forming the basis of any element being used.
BMPSco9 Discuss the significance of a facetted representation of a curved shell, where relevant and explain why use of this type of element is no longer necessary.
BMPSco14 Describe any inherent dangers in using a membrane or a plate idealisation rather than a shell one. 
BMPSco15  Discuss the use of beam and shell elements to model stiffeners and highlight limitations.
BMPSco22 Describe the terms Neutral Axis and Centroidal Axis in relation to beam elements.
BMPSco23 Describe the terms Shear Centre, Shear Coefficients, Torsional Constant and Warping in relation to beam elements.
BMPSco25 Explain why the through-thickness stress is commonly neglected in thin shells.
BMPSco26 Describe the boundary conditions appropriate to fully-fixed and simply supported beams and shells and explain the link to bending stress.
BMPSco29 Discuss the effect of an offset in shell mid-surface on local and global result quantities.
BMPSco31 Explain the challenges in connecting beam and shell elements to solids.
BMPSap3 Determine positive plate/shell normal directions and use this effectively in the application of pressure and the correct display of surface stress plots.
BMPSap4 Use beam elements effectively for appropriate idealisations of components and structures.
BMPSap5 Use membrane elements effectively for appropriate idealisations of components and structures.
BMPSap6 Use plate elements effectively for appropriate idealisations of components and structures.
BMPSap7 Use shell elements effectively for appropriate idealisations of components and structures.
BMPSan1 Analyse requirements for finite element models of industrial components using beam, membrane, plate and shell elements and determine whether the basic assumptions inherent in the element formulations are valid.
BMPSsy1 Plan modelling strategies for stiffened plate/shell structures.
BMPSev1 Justify the appropriateness of a beam, membrane, plate or shell idealisation for any analysis.
MASco1 Describe the salient features of a stress strain curve  from a uniaxial tensile test on a typical steel and aluminium alloy.
MASco4 Describe the characteristics of ductile and brittle failures.
MASco15 If relevant to your industry sector, explain how use  of a modulus and allowable stress can be used in a small displacement linear elastic analysis of a plastic component.
MASap1 Employ material constitutive data appropriately in  analysis and simulation.
SIMMkn17 SPDM - State applicable simulation process for the relevant project in your organization.
SIMMkn18 SPDM - State input data from other disciplines and domains (e.g. design, loads, materials, tests...).
SIMMkn19 SPDM - State output of simulation & analysis processes, including design substantiation, test requirements...
SIMMkn20 SPDM - State the different phases and control actions of an efficient simulation and analysis process
SIMMkn26 SPDM - Identify model/simulation data to be managed.
SIMMkn27 SPDM - List the import and eIntro to FEAport formats available in your application software.
SIMMco27 SPDM- Understand the process to import and select  loads for the relevant project(*).
SIMMco28 SPDM- Understand loads selection and combination  rules applicable to the relevant project(*).
SIMMco29 SPDM- Understand different load characteristics and variability(*).
SIMMco36 SPDM - Understand successive phases of the applicable simulation process including preparatory phase, modelling and simulation phase, validation and assessment phase.
SIMMco47 SPDM - Describe the limitations of the import and export formats available in your application software.
SIMMap14 SPDM - Use applicable capability to eIntro to FEAtract/import applicable material data for simulation(*).
SIMMap15 SPDM - Use applicable capability to import applicable loads and environmental data(*).
SIMMan16 SPDM - Analyze the impact of input data changes ( e.g.loads..) in support of a decision to launch a new simulation loop.
SIMMan17 SPDM - Analyze the impact of material changes in support of a decision to launch a new simulation loop(*).
SIMMco7 - V&V Explain the term solution verification.
SIMMap4 - V&V Perform basic model checks
SIMMap6 - V&V Perform test /analysis correlation studies
SIMMan6 - V&V Analyze simulation results to support validation activities.
SIMMsy7 - V&V Prepare a validation plan in support of a FEA study.
SIMMkn9  List the various CAD, and CAE systems your company uses and has a need to transfer data to/from.
SIMMkn10  State whether the CAD CAE interfaces amongst your analysis and simulations applications are uni directional or bi directional
SIMMco15  Understand fundamentals of the mechanical design process
SIMMco16  Explain how a CAD model can support different CAE models.
SIMMco18  Understand procedures to extract and import applicable CAD geometrical data, and/or drawings for the relevant analysis.
SIMMco20  Understand the tracking of changes in CAD and simulation models
SIMMco23  Review the functionality of STEP in relation to your analysis and simulation needs.
SIMMco25  Review whether features are retained across the import and export filters available in your application software.
SIMMap8  Apply any model clean up facilities available in your application software, for use on imported data.
SIMMap9  Use facilities in your application software to solidify imported geometry where necessary.
SIMMap10  Use your application software to extract mid surfaces from solid geometry
SIMMap11  Employ any feature-recognition facilities on imported geometry, to allow suppression or modification.
SIMMap12  Apply appropriate tolerances and other settings when importing and exporting model data.
SIMMan8  Appraise whether any geometrical entities have been approximated on importation into your analysis and simulation systems.
SIMMan18  Analyze the impact of design changes in support of a decision to launch a new simulation loop.
SIMMan19  Assess the justification of design changes coming from simulation results.

Purchasing Details

Members Price
£269 | $346 | €296

Non-Members Price
£403 | $518 | €443
Order Ref: el-238
Event Type: Course
Location: e-Learning Online
Date: July 24, 2018

View the NAFEMS eLearning Schedule

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Course Tutor

Tony Abbey - NAFEMS Tutor

Read Tony's bio on the NAFEMS tutors page

Session 1
Tuesday, July 24th

Session 2
Tuesday, July 31st

Session 3
Tuesday, August 7th

Session 4
Tuesday, August 14th

Session 5
Tuesday, August 21st

Session 6
Tuesday, August 28th

All sessions are recorded and made available to attendees following the end of the live class. It is perfectly acceptable to attend this class using recordings only.

The course is completely code independent, so is applicable to all FEA users

A full set of PDF notes is available for download. Each session is presented live and is available for review via a streamable recording.

Reading lists, homework submissions, supplementary data are all available for download via the special on-line forum. Interaction via the bulletin board is strongly encouraged to obtain the most from the e-learning class. Typically, the board runs for 4 weeks after the last live class sessions, giving you plenty of time to catch up with homework, review and ask questions.

Note: homework participation is purely voluntary!

Special Note(s):

Telephony surcharges may apply for attendees who are located outside of North America, South America and Europe. These surcharges are related to individuals who join the audio portion of the web-meeting by calling in to the provided toll/toll-free teleconferencing lines. We have made a VoIP option available so anyone attending the class can join using a headset (headphones w/ microphone) connected to the computer. There is no associated surcharge to utilize the VoIP option, and is actually encouraged to ensure NAFEMS is able to keep the e-Learning course fees as low as possible. Please send an email to the e-Learning coordinator (e-learning @ ) to determine if these surcharges may apply to your specific case. 

Just as with a live face-to-face training course, each registration only covers one person. If you plan to register a large group (10+), please send an email to e-learning @ in advance for group discounts.

For NAFEMS cancellation and transfer policy, click here