Advanced Structural Analysis module (CE50005)

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Module code


There are two key aspects of the module. The first is finite element analysis (FEA), perhaps the most important computational method in engineering analysis. The module covers the fundamentals of FEA, but from the viewpoint that the way most people will encounter FEA is through the use of commercial FEA software. The course involves the use of commercial FEA software in a number of workshops.

The second aspect is aspects of bridge engineering. This actually builds upon the first part of the coursework,  using FEA in a practical context. The two  parts of bridge engineering that you focus on are bridge deck analysis, and modelling cable stayed bridges.

The topics covered are:

Finite Element Analysis:

  • Mesh design – this covers both geometric aspects, and the types of elements that are available.
  • Shape Functions – the use of shape functions is fundamental to the implementation of the finite element method.
  • Stiffness Matrices and Load Vectors – looks at how stiffness matrices and load vectors are formulated.
  • Computational aspects – FEA involves the solution of very large sets of equations, and you look at the methods used, and their relevant advantages. Numerical integration is used in FEA and can have a profound effect on the behaviour of elements.
  • Iso-parametric elements – One of the strengths of FEA is its ability to model complicated geometries. This flexibility is achieved using iso-parametric elements.
  • Structural elements – Beam, plate and shell elements are very important in practical FEA, and there are many variations of them that aspect.
  • Dynamic analysis – you look at the use of FEA in dynamic analysis of structures, covering both modal and transient analysis.
  • Non-linear analysis – this is an introduction to both material and geometric non-linearity.

Bridge Engineering:

  • Structural forms – bridges come and a multitude of shapes and forms.
  • Loading – the focus is on traffic loading under Eurocode rules.
  • Bridge deck analysis – you  look at the use of grillage analysis, and the use of finite element analysis of bridge decks - there is also an outline design of a composite bridge deck.
  • Plate Girders – the beams used in bridges are generally much larger than the common universal beams. They are referred to as plate girders and you look at the design of plate girders according to Eurocodes.
  • Cable stayed bridges – you look at the behaviour of cable stayed bridges, and the construction of finite element models of cable stayed bridges.