The purpose of this paper is to develop Graphical User Interfaces (GUI) in MATLAB’s1 Finite Element educational program and describe how MATLAB GUI programs have been used as educational tools to train Engineering Technology students and improve the success of the students in the Finite Element course.
The complexity of FE analysis forces most of the course to focus on the theoretical aspects of generating FEA models, rather than the application of this analysis tool to solve real world problems. New tools are needed to improve the teaching of Finite Element due to the complexity of FE analysis. FEA can be performed by many commercial difficult FEA software with very specific data entry requirements available in the market. Engineering Technology students improve their learning when the coursework is less theoretical, and more application. Hence, a graphical user interface (GUI) application can provide an additional tool to help teach Engineering technology students. The Finite Element Educational Program has been developed to make the course more challenging to increase the interest in the finite element course of the students and overcome the difficulties of complex software.
I have developed a Finite Element Educational Program using a MATLAB GUI for spring, bar, truss and beam elements to improve student learning of difficult engineering concepts, along with gaining essential knowledge of finite element analysis and design content knowledge. For example, the total stiffness matrix and reduced matrix for the given problem are calculated in the designed program, and these calculated values are not available in any commercial FEA software because these programs are not aimed at education. For over five years, The Finite Element Educational Program results show improvement in student knowledge of difficult engineering concepts and has made finite element lessons easier for students to learn and understand.