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Module XUE-4022:
CAD Finite Element Analysis

Module Facts

Run by School of Education and Human Development

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Mr Aled Williams

Overall aims and purpose

The aim of the module is to develop and validate students’ practical capability in CAD Stress Analysis and Finite Element Analysis to a commercial / professional standard. The use of FEA is growing in today´s manufacturing world. It enables designers and engineers to significantly reduce product development cost and time while improving product safety, comfort, and durability. The module gives students the opportunity to collaborate with industrial partners to develop, refine and test real world engineering solutions via a live brief. The industrial partner will be an engineering / manufacturing company who will provide new or existing product CAD design data for the purpose of re-modelling and undertaking the FEA analysis. The module focuses on mathematically and virtually modelling mechanical behaviour to generate results which can be used to inform the analysis and evaluation of a part intended for manufacture. Test data may then be compared to real world / actual test data for process validation purposes. The module progresses onto advanced FEA techniques including frequency and thermal studies. The module prepares students for SolidWorks CSWA – Simulation and CSWP – Simulation certification.

Course content

  1. Static studies – Understanding axial forces, sheer forces, bending moments, factor of safety
  2. Mechanics – Simple Stress 1 & the structure of materials
  3. Mechanics – Simple Stress 2 & the strength of materials
  4. Mechanics – Strain and Elasticity & Finite Element Analysis Theory
  5. Defining Solid and Shell elements – connections, fixtures and loads
  6. Defining Truss and Beam elements – loads and restraints
  7. Solvers and the analysis and validity of results
  8. Symmetry, Non-uniform loads, buckling and drop testing
  9. Frequency studies
  10. Thermal studies
  11. Configurations and scope
  12. Live study task results

Assessment Criteria


60 -69%: Knowledge base covers all essential aspects of subject matter dealt with in the assignment and shows good evidence of enquiry beyond this. Conceptual understanding is good. Experimental work is carried out in a reliable and efficient manner, with a good appreciation of data analysis shown during validation. Problems of a familiar and unfamiliar nature are solved in a logical manner; solutions are generally correct and acceptable. Performance in transferable skills is sound and shows no significant deficiencies.


50-59%: Knowledge base covers all essential aspects of subject matter dealt with in the assignment; conceptual understanding is acceptable. Experimental work is carried out in a reliable manner, with an appreciation of data analysis shown during validation. Problems of a familiar and unfamiliar nature are solved and solutions are acceptable. Performance in transferable skills is sound.


70% and above: Knowledge base is extensive and extends well beyond the work covered in the assignment; conceptual understanding is outstanding. Experimental work is exemplary and shows a thorough analysis and appraisal of experimental results, with appropriate and justified validation. Problems of a familiar and unfamiliar nature are solved with efficiency and accuracy; problem-solving procedures are adjusted to the nature of the problem. Performance in transferable skills is generally very good.

Learning outcomes

  1. Operate in complex and specialised contexts, requiring selection and application from a wide range of advanced techniques.

  2. Work with an industrial partner to test, analyse and improve current product on the market, or alternatively validate the new concept generation process with analysis data and results.

  3. Demonstrate pragmatism in taking a systematic approach and the logical and practical steps necessary for, often complex, concepts to become reality.

  4. Be professional in their outlook, be capable of team working, be effective communicators, and be able to exercise responsibility and sound management approaches.

  5. Undertake analysis of complex data and judge the appropriateness of the enquiry methodology used.

  6. Demonstrate a familiarity with a range of mathematical and computational methods for formulating and solving problems.

  7. Demonstrate a fluency for experimental design and for assessing and presenting experimental data results.

  8. Analyse Finite Element Analysis results and suggest improvements, new concepts or alternate approaches to solutions.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Finite Element Analysis 50
Client based FEA report 50

Teaching and Learning Strategy


Teaching Strategy: Seminar 6x2hrs

Review of effective analysis strategies and justification of outcomes against mathematical and computational outcomes.

Private study

25hrs assessment + Private study and research

Guided FEA technique research and implementation, skills refinement, exam preparation, and report preparation / generation.


Teaching Strategy: Lectures 12x2hrs

Taught through a combination of lectures and workshops to cover FEA analysis skills, including mathematical and computational problem solving approaches.


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Management - Able to utilise, coordinate and control resources (human, physical and/or financial)
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others
  • Leadership - Able to lead and manage, develop action plans and objectives, offer guidance and direction to others, and cope with the related pressures such authority can result in


Resource implications for students

A laptop of PC suitable for running CAD software – see following spec. • Ensuring the amount of RAM in the machine is sufficient for the typical size of datasets is important. Running regular, data-heavy Simulations increases the need for RAM, because large amounts of data typically needs to be loaded during calculations. Minimum amount of RAM: 16GB. If running Simulations, 32GB is recommend. • Graphics: SOLIDWORKS requires a professional, fully-certified graphics card which runs the OpenGL engine in order to function correctly (e.g. Nvidia Quadro and the AMD FirePro). SOLIDWORKS has been known to run on “gaming” graphics cards which use DirectX (e.g. AMD Radeon and the Nvidia Geforce cards), however users may experience graphical glitches. • Processor: CAD is predominantly a single core application. It is more effective to buy faster processors with fewer cores. Some processes in CAD do use multiple cores, e.g. opening and rebuilding drawings with multiple views. Rendering also uses multiple cores and will run effectively with eight or twelve. Simulations run efficiently with two or four cores. Recommendation: Intel i7 or Xeon processors • Storage: A fast mechanical HDD (spinning at 7200RPM or above), or a Solid-State Drive (SSD)

Reading list

• V. Adams & A. Askenazi (1999) Building Better Products with Finite Element Analysis. Santa Fe, USA:OnWord Press. • J. Akin (2009) Finite Element Analysis Concepts via SolidWorks. Houston, Texas: Rice University • Solidworks (2018) Introduction to Simulation (software manual available from within the software application via the Help menu) • Solidworks (2018) Theoretical manual (software manual available from within the software application via the Help menu) • H. Lee (2014) Mechanics of Materials Labs with SOLIDWORKS Simulation 2015. Mission, KS:SDC Publications • H. Lee (2014) Engineering Statics Labs with SOLIDWORKS Motion 2015. Mission, KS:SDC Publications • CADArtifex (2017) Exploring Finite Element Analysis with SOLIDWORKS Simulation 2017. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform • Dr. J. Xin & Dr. L. Cai (2010) A Module-Based Approach to Finite Element Methods (Available Online:

Courses including this module

Optional in courses: