# Test Your Foundation in Finite Elements

March 12, 1999
Running an FEA program may be easier than correctly answering these related FEA questions

Paul Kurowski President ACOM Consulting [email protected]

FEA programs have gotten so easy to use some might think that there’s not much to learn to be effective. But after attending many FEA courses and conferences, and answering questions from people involved with the technology, it’s obvious to me there’s a lot to learn.

This is not an all exclusive list of FEA questions, and in no way can it replace a text book or an FEA course. Nevertheless, get out a sheet of paper and test yourself with these not-soeasy questions. Answers are in the accompanying box.

 DEFINE THE FOLLOWING: 1. What is the purpose of discretizing (meshing) a continuum? 2. What are the major assumptions in the design of a finite element? What are the assumptions on displacements between nodes? 3. How are finite-element equations formulated? 4. What is the primary unknown in FEA using the displacement method? What are the secondary unknowns? 5. What is a nodal degree of freedom or DOF? 6. What is the relation between the total number of degrees of freedom in a model and the total number of unknowns in the FEA model? 7. Is the total number of DOF in the model equal to the total number of elements, or to the total number of nodes? 8. What is special about the state in which the total potential energy of the model is minimized? 9. What are the components of the total potential energy? 10. Write and explain the fundamental equation for FEA. 11. What is the price to pay for replacing a continuum with a set of finite elements?

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