Course Title: Aerospace Finite Element Methods

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Aerospace Finite Element Methods

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


Bundoora Campus


115H Aerospace, Mechanical & Manufacturing Engineering


Sem 1 2006,
Sem 1 2007,
Sem 1 2009,
Sem 1 2010,
Sem 1 2011,
Sem 1 2012,
Sem 1 2013,
Sem 2 2014,
Sem 2 2015,
Sem 2 2016


Bundoora Campus


172H School of Engineering


Sem 2 2017,
Sem 1 2019

Course Coordinator: Dr Raj Das

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 6123

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: 251.03.060

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

MIET2115 Mechanics and Materials 2, or equivalent

Course Description

This course provides an introduction to computational simulation via finite element analysis for engineers. In this course you will study the theory and application of finite element method for structural analysis. Covered element types include truss, beam, plane stress, plane strain, plate, shell and solid elements. Linear static analysis is covered in detail. An introduction to nonlinear and frequency (vibration) analysis is given. The knowledge and skills developed in this course are essential for all engineers involved with the design and analysis of aerospace vehicles.  Learning is achieved through lectures, computer-based and problem-solving classes. Elementary engineering analysis as well as more extensive applications will be conducted using the programming software package. Solutions to a variety of engineering problems will be obtained using an industry-standard finite element software. 

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

This course contributes to the following Program Learning Outcomes of the Bachelor of Engineering (Honours):

1. Knowledge and Skill Base 
1.2 Conceptual understanding of the mathematics, numerical analysis, statistics, and computer and information sciences which underpin the engineering discipline

2. Engineering Application Ability 
2.1 Application of established engineering methods to complex engineering problem solving
2.2 Fluent application of engineering techniques, tools and resources

3. Professional and Personal Attributes 
3.2 Effective oral and written communication in professional and lay domains
3.3 Creative, innovative and pro-active demeanour
3.4 Professional use and management of information
3.5 Orderly management of self, and professional conduct
3.6 Effective team membership and team leadership

On completion of this course you should be able to:

  1. Understand the basic concepts and underlying principles of the finite element method in the context of structural analysis.
  2. Classify truss, beam, 2D plane stress, plate, shell and 3D solid elements in terms of the element characteristics and limitations.
  3. Formulate the stiffness matrix for a range of element types, structures, loading and boundary conditions using the unit displacement, virtual work, and assembly methods.
  4. Develop linear static and vibration (frequency) finite element models using a commercial finite element program (ABAQUS CAE). This will involve error-checking and analysis of the model results.
  5. Develop a finite element model of a structure using appropriate elements types, meshing strategies, boundary conditions, material properties, and analysis type.
  6. Communicate and interpret analysis models and results in a clear manner to derive meaningful inputs for design of aerospace components and structures, as appropriate to professional practice

Overview of Learning Activities

This course utilises lectures, online resources and teaching spaces to deliver an immersive blended approach to learning. Course content is primarily delivered and aligned to topic-level learning outcomes that complement the course learning outcomes. Contact hours are devoted to lectures, computer-based practical tutorial and problem solving sessions. Course material and assessments are provided via the University Learning Management System and in class sessions.

Key employability skills are developed during this course through the fostering of communication, critical thinking and problem solving. These are cultivated through individual and group assignments and problem-solving class sessions where real engineering examples in the context of finite element methods are discussed and solved.

Overview of Learning Resources

Course-related resources will be provided on the University Learning Management System, which is accessed through myRMIT. This can include lecture material, supplementary course notes, assessments and references. Practical sessions will use the ABAQUS finite element software package.

Overview of Assessment

X This course has no hurdle requirements.

☐ All hurdle requirements for this course are indicated clearly in the assessment regime that follows, against the relevant assessment task(s) and all have been approved by the College Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor (Learning & Teaching).

Assessment tasks

Early Assessment Tasks are provided via weekly online quizzes based on course material, in-class summative assessments, and a weekly student self-reflection survey aligned to the learning outcomes.

Assessment Task 1: Class Test
Weighting 25%
This assessment task supports all CLOs

Assessment Task 2: Individual Assignment
Weighting 15%
This assessment task supports CLOs 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6

Assessment 3: Group Assignment
Weighting 20%
This assessment supports CLOs 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6

Assessment 4: Exam
Weighting 40%
This assessment supports all CLOs