Finite element software and spreadsheet software are two essential tools for structural engineers. This course combines the two into a FE spreadsheet that puts the power of FE method into the versatility of a spreadsheet.
The user is provided with a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that solves FE two dimensional (2D) frame-type structural engineering problems. This spreadsheet is simplistic in comparison to commercial software and much more limited in capabilities, but is completely adequate for many structural building frame-type problems. Most of the course is about how to use the spreadsheet, with a one-chapter overview of underlying theory. I have used the FE spreadsheet for years and it has been invaluable. It is easy to learn if the user is already familiar with spreadsheets and it is much less expensive than commercial FE software.
This course includes:
- Finite Element (FE) Spreadsheet
- Instruction on and examples of spreadsheet use
- A cursory review of underlying theory
- Discussion of applications, advantages, and limitations of the FE spreadsheet
- A multiple-choice 20-question quiz to obtain PDH credits
A typical user would be a structural design engineer working with a beam, truss, frame or elastic foundation problems. The user should:
- Have Excel 5.0 or higher software
- Have a working understanding of spreadsheet formulas (Visual Basic [VBA] programming and macro skills are not necessary)
- Be able to create a structural 2D frame model with nodes and members
- Be aware of matrix mathematics (addition, multiplication and inversion of matrices), although detailed knowledge of matrices is not needed
Specific Knowledge or Skill Obtained
This course teaches the following specific knowledge and skills:
- Ability to solve structural frame problems using the provided FE spreadsheet
- Difference between truss, beam and frame-type members
- Node vs. member data
- Local vs. global coordinates
- Boundary conditions (supports) for stability
- Methods to check calculated results
- Basic theory used to solve a FE problem, especially use of matrices
- Linking spreadsheets for progressive analyses
- Benefits, uses and limitations of the provided FE software spreadsheet
Click on the following link to the PDF document to review the course material before taking the quiz for credit.
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