Introduction to Engineering Simulation for Non-Specialists

Introduction to Engineering Simulation for Non-Specialists

Four-Session Live Online Training Course - 2 hours per session


Attend the live sessions, or view the recordings at your convenience



  • What is engineering simulation and what does it tell us?
  • What do I need to know before performing a structural simulation?
  • What is the general workflow for building and solving structural simulation models and how do we know if it’s valid?

Get the answers to these questions and more with this industry-leading, code-independent course.


This is the course that design, project, and test engineers, and even managers should attend as a first step toward engineering simulation democratisation. This course will empower the non-specialist to understand the value and purpose of up-front engineering simulation and optimise its implementation in analysis-driven design.

More and more, engineering simulation is being geared toward design engineers for initial sizing, configuration, and other decisions at the concept stage. The idea is to minimise the cost of design and development by avoiding costly corrections later in the development process as well as time-consuming back and forth between the design engineer and engineering analyst.

However, engineering simulation is only as good as the user’s understanding of it. In this course, the non-specialist will learn the fundamentals necessary for understanding simulation's role in the design process.

This is the intro before the intro!

Vital information includes:

  • Overview of engineering simulation, including its value, types of simulation, and its challenges
  • Qualitative overview of simulation technology and basic modelling workflow
  • Detailed breakdown of each of the steps in simulation modelling workflow along with recommendations and tips
  • Results interpretation and sources of error
  • Verification and validation

Throughout the course, the students will be engaged and challenged through a number of in-session exercises. This interaction between the students and instructor will solidify the students’ understanding of the material and accelerate their adoption of an engineering analysis mindset.

You can either attend the live sessions or take the course on-demand at your leisure.

NAFEMS e-learning gives you the best of both worlds, giving you real, practical knowledge that you can use day-to-day to improve your analyses.

What will you learn?

  • The purpose and value of engineering simulation
  • The fundamentals of structural stress analysis and simulation
  • The general simulation workflow, along with best practices and limitations
  • Results interpretation and methods for verifying and validating results

Who should attend?

The course aims to provide design engineers, project engineers, and other non-specialists with the fundamentals necessary for the optimal implementation of engineering simulation in the analysis-driven design process.

Mechanical design changes and corrections are easiest and cheapest when engineering simulation is incorporated early in the design process. Unfortunately, the lack of fundamental understanding of simulation among non-specialists presents a hurdle to the effective adoption and implementation of up-front simulation tools at the concept stage.

This course will help you and your organization clear those hurdles and help you optimize your analysis-driven design process.



The course is completely code-independent.

A full set of notes in PDF format will be available for download for each class. Each session is presented live and is available for review via a streamable recording.

Students are given access to a course discussion forum, which provides access e-learning backup material including reading lists, homework submissions, and other supplementary data. This is also where you can ask your tutor questions at any time.

Interaction via the forum is strongly encouraged to obtain the most from the e-learning class. Typically the forum stays open for 4 weeks after the last live class session, giving you plenty of time to catch up with homework, review and ask questions.

Note: homework is purely voluntary!


Course Process and Details

Students will join the audio portion of the meetings by utilizing the VoIP (i.e. headset connected to the computer via headphone and microphone jacks) or by calling into a standard toll line. If you are interested in additional pricing to call-in using a toll-free line, please send an email to: e-learning @ .

Course Program

Note: This is a four-week course. Each session represents one 2-hour session each week.

Session 1: Overview of Simulation

  • Introduction
  • Overview of Simulation
  • History of Simulation
  • Types of Simulation
  • Exercise: Simulation Applications
  • Challenges of Simulation
  • Types of Structural Simulation
  • Q & A

Session 2: Fundamentals of Simulation

  • What Parameters are Used for Simulation?
  • Application of Simulation Parameters
  • Sources of Material Properties
  • Exercise: Stress Analysis Problems
  • How Simulation Works
  • Learning Simulation: Crawl, Walk, Run
  • Q & A

Session 3: General Simulation Procedure and Preprocessing

  • General Simulation Procedure
  • Overview of Model Preparation and Setup
  • Exercise: Geometry
  • Exercise: Meshing

Session 4: Solving, Postprocessing, and Verifying the Model

  • Solution Processing Overview
  • Boundary Conditions
  • Settings
  • Solver
  • Exercise: Solution
  • Postprocessing Overview
  • Results Quantities
  • Results Formats
  • Exercise: Postprocessing
  • Methods of Verification and Validation
  • Sources of Error
  • Exercise: Verification and Validation
  • Final Q&A and conclusion


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) 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 ( ) 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 in advance for group discounts.

For NAFEMS cancellation and transfer policy, click here.


Interested in this Course?

Please complete this form if you are interested in scheduling an on-site training session, or if you would like to be notified of the next public course session.


PSE Competencies addressed by this training course


IDCompetence Statement
FEAkn1List the various steps in the analysis/simulation process.
FEAkn2Define the meaning of degree of freedom.
FEAkn3List 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.
FEAkn4Define the meaning of adaptive mesh refinement
FEAkn8List the requirements for an axisymmetric analysis to be valid.
FEAkn9List the degrees of freedom to be constrained on a symmetric boundary.
FEAkn12List the advantages of using symmetry.
FEAkn16List the various forms of element distortion.
FEAkn17List the various element types commonly used in the analysis of components within your organisation.
FEAco1Describe the sources of error inherent in finite element analysis, in general terms.
FEAco2Discuss checks that may be used post-solution to check for the presence of inaccuracy.
FEAco5Discuss the difficulties that can arise in using a CAD model as the basis for carrying out analysis and simulation.
FEAco6Discuss the need for a consistent set of units in any analysis and illustrate possible pitfalls.
FEAco7Explain why strains and stresses are generally less accurate than displacements for any given mesh of elements, using the Displacement FEM.
FEAco11Discuss the finite element / spring analogy.
FEAco14Discuss the nature of the structural stiffness matrix.
FEAco15Discuss the integral equation for element stiffness, highlighting the variables which it is dependent upon.
FEAco24Discuss the relationship between shape function and strain/stress prediction for simple 2D linear and parabolic elements.
FEAco26Discuss the significance of computer memory to solution elapse time for large models.
FEAco29Discuss the term Flying Structure or Insufficiently Constrained Structure.
FEAco31Explain why most finite elements do not represent a circular boundary exactly and highlight how this approximation manifests itself.
FEAco35Discuss the terms Validation and Verification and highlight their importance.
FEAco40Explain the rationale behind the use of 1-D, 2-D and 3-D elements used in the analysis of components within your organisation.
FEAap2Demonstrate effective use of available results presentation facilities.
FEAap3Illustrate the approximate nature of finite element analysis, through examples chosen from your industry sector.
FEAap5Illustrate possible applications of 0D, 1D, 2D and 3D elements in your industry sector.
FEAap6Illustrate how you might apply a moment to a model consisting of 2D or 3D solids.
FEAap7Employ symmetric boundary conditions effectively.
FEAap10Illustrate various physical situations which will result in a Stress Singularity and explain why it is not appropriate to use finite element results at such locations directly.
FEAap12Employ a range of post-solution checks to determine the integrity of FEA results.
FEAap13Conduct validation studies in support of FEA.
FEAan1Analyse the results from small displacement, linear static analyses and determine whether they satisfy inherent assumption
FEAan2Compare the results from small displacement, linear elastic analyses with allowable values and comment on findings.