Math in Engineering

Basics of Engineering

What is a finite element analysis?

A finite element analysis (also known as FEA or finite element method) is a powerful tool to solve problems in engineering, especially for heat transfer, fluid mechanics, and mechanical system problems. The FEA consists of a computer model of a material or design that is stressed; the outcome is then analyzed for specific results. In reality, the computer is conducting a numerical analysis technique used for solving differential equations, and relating it to stress in the engineering problem.

This technique was first developed in 1943 by Richard Courant (1888–1972), who used a form of FEA to find approximate solutions to vibrational systems. Early in the 1970s, only companies that owned expensive mainframe computers were using FEA, including the aeronautic, automotive, defense, and nuclear industries. Since the mid-1990s, however, use of FEA has grown with the advent of faster and cheaper computers with more memory. The results are more accurate, too, allowing various industries to analyze new product designs and refine existing products.


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