Assessment of a Common Finite Element Analysis Course

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Publication Title

ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition Conference Proceedings

Conference Name

ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition


This paper discusses the outcome of the common assessment of a sample introductory undergraduate/graduate level course on finite element analysis (FEA) taught at three different local four-year engineering colleges, namely, Baker College and Kettering University (Flint, MI), and Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU, Saginaw, MI). The assessment is based on the commonly used course topics and based on identifying the common course learning objectives (CLOs). CLOs are then mapped with ABET's program outcomes (POs). Assessment tools such as class work, home work, quizzes, tests, as well as the final exam and/or final project work with presentations are used to assess the performance of the students. The rationale for writing this paper is to understand the variation if any in students' understanding of the material on their overall performance in the class. Variation is to be expected since the student population is different (full time versus part time, graduate versus undergraduate) and the course is taught by different instructors. However, usage of common CLOs, course topics, and assessment tools used reveal that the students lack knowledge in pre-requisites and also had problems using CAE tools compared to using math tools for FEA. Finite element analysis (FEA) course typically requires pre-requisites knowledge in Statics, Mechanics of Materials and to some extent Engineering Materials, Computer Aided Modeling and Machine Design. Although many students at these colleges usually take FEA as seniors, there are a few graduate students at Kettering who take this class. Some of whom are on-campus while few others are off campus (distance learning) students. Both math and CAE tools are typically used for this course with more emphasis on finite element methods rather than finite element modeling using a CAE tool. The math tools such as MatLAB involve using matrix algebra for most part to solve the equations obtained by either direct stiffness method or by energy methods for 1D and 2D problems. CAE tools involve modeling components that involve simple or complex geometry, and solving those using SOLID EDGE/UG/ANSYS/IDEAS software. Results of assessment will be presented in the form of charts and tables and discussed in detail. A sample assessment and evaluation form will also be included in the paper.


ISSN: 2153-5965

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© American Society for Engineering Education, 2010.