Ansys macros for illustrating concepts in mechanical engineering courses

John R. Baker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Finite element analysis (FEA) is a widely used tool in structural analysis. Because of advances in graphics and animation capabilities, commercial FEA programs can be of great benefit in aiding students in understanding concepts in many undergraduate engineering courses. However, although software vendors have made great strides in enhancing the user-friendliness of commercial codes, proper use of complex FEA software still requires significant training and experience. There is typically not time to instruct students in use of FEA software, or in FEA theory, in courses which are not specifically FEA courses. This work builds on previously reported work and describes a number of macros that have been developed which automate modeling procedures using the FEA code, ANSYS, to easily produce results, and high-level graphical representations of results, related to a range of topics in structural mechanics. Macros have been developed that illustrate concepts in courses such as statics, dynamics, solid mechanics, machine design, and vibrations, with minimal input from the user. No FEA theoretical background is required to use the macros. They can be used by students in stand-alone assignments or by instructors in in-class demos. Some examples of results that can be generated and graphically depicted are stress contours due to beam bending, stress contours illustrating the stress concentration in the fillet region in a loaded bar with a step diameter change, animated structural vibration mode shapes, and plots of displacement and velocity of a projectile versus time. Inexperienced users can also easily display numerical results in tables generated by the software. Nonlinear solutions can be generated, for instance, in large deflection beam bending problems to illustrate the fact that standard textbook solutions are only valid within some operating range.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6-21
Number of pages16
JournalComputers in Education Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science
  • Education


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