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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 e-learning course.

This is the course that design, project, and test engineers, and even managers should attend as a first step toward engineering simulation democratization. This course will empower the non-specialist to understand the value and purpose of up-front engineering simulation and optimize 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 minimize 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 (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


PSE Competencies addressed by this training course

IDCompetence 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
FEAkn8 List the requirements for an axisymmetric analysis to be valid.
FEAkn9 List the degrees of freedom to be constrained on a symmetric boundary.
FEAkn12 List the advantages of using symmetry.
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.
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.
FEAco11 Discuss the finite element / spring analogy.
FEAco14 Discuss the nature of the structural stiffness matrix.
FEAco15 Discuss the integral equation for element stiffness, highlighting the variables which it is dependent upon.
FEAco24 Discuss the relationship between shape function and strain/stress prediction for simple 2D linear and parabolic elements.
FEAco26 Discuss the significance of computer memory to solution elapse time for large models.
FEAco29 Discuss the term Flying Structure or Insufficiently Constrained Structure.
FEAco31 Explain why most finite elements do not represent a circular boundary exactly and highlight how this approximation manifests itself.
FEAco35 Discuss the terms Validation and Verification and highlight their importance.
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.
FEAap2 Demonstrate effective use of available results presentation facilities.
FEAap3 Illustrate the approximate nature of finite element analysis, through examples chosen from your industry sector.
FEAap5 Illustrate possible applications of 0D, 1D, 2D and 3D elements in your industry sector.
FEAap6 Illustrate how you might apply a moment to a model consisting of 2D or 3D solids.
FEAap7 Employ symmetric boundary conditions effectively.
FEAap10 Illustrate 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.
FEAap12 Employ a range of post-solution checks to determine the integrity of FEA results.
FEAap13 Conduct validation studies in support of FEA.
FEAan1 Analyse the results from small displacement, linear static analyses and determine whether they satisfy inherent assumption
FEAan2 Compare the results from small displacement, linear elastic analyses with allowable values and comment on findings.

Upcoming Session:

Course Tutor:

Jeff Strain

Jeff Strain is the founder and principal engineering consultant at Stress & Strain Technologies. Prior to starting his own company, he worked at Autodesk as a Subject Matter Expert on the simulation sales team. Jeff also worked at PADT, an ANSYS channel partner in Tempe, Arizona, for fourteen years providing tech support, training, sales support, and consulting. He also has eight years of experience in the aerospace industry as a structural analysis engineer. Jeff graduated from Georgia Tech where he majored in aerospace engineering

Not Available to Attend this Time? 

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Please click here to view the FAQ section, or if you need to contact NAFEMS about this course.

Engineering Board PDH Credits

*It is your individual responsibility to check whether these e-learning courses satisfy the criteria set-out by your state engineering board. NAFEMS does not guarantee that your individual board will accept these courses for PDH credit, but we believe that the courses comply with regulations in most US states (except Florida, North Carolina, Louisiana, and New York, where providors are required to be pre-approved).