Adam Miller


Design of Engineering Analysis Software

As part of an introductory engineering class freshman students are required to design, build, and test a simple support bracket with the objective of optimizing strength to weight ratio.  However, freshman students do not yet have the capability to predict the mechanical behavior of their designs. To prevent the students from taking a guess and check approach to the design process software was written that predicts the mechanical behavior of the part.  A program was written in MATLAB, a common mathematical software, which uses Finite Element Analysis (FEA) to show the students areas of high stress in their designs.  The program accepts an IGES file, a type of universal graphics file, that is generated using a Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) software.  The software then automatically meshes the part using linear triangular elements and boundary conditions are applied.  The program's output is a plot of Von Mises stress distribution as well as an animation of the deflection of the part as it is loaded.  To verify the accuracy of the program several sample parts were designed, built, and tested.  The location of the failure in each part was then compared to the plot of the stress distribution as predicted by the software.  Each part failed in a manner that would be expected given the results of the software.  In addition, the results of the software were compared against the results of a commercial FEA software package called ANSYS.  Both sets of results were identical. 

Faculty Mentor: John Oliva


Adam presented at the 2007 Frontiers in Education (FIE) Conference October 10-13, 2007 in Milwaukee, WI.

Page last modified May 13, 2011