A numerical method is presented to implement structural design sensitivity analysis theory, using the versatility and convenience of existing finite element structural analysis programs. Design variables such as thickness and cross-sectional areas of components of individual members and built-up structures are considered. Structural performance functionals considered include displacement and stress. The method is also applicable for eigenvalue problem design sensitivity analysis. It is shown that calculations can be carried out outside existing finite element codes, using postprocessing data only. Thus design sensitivity analysis software does not have to be imbedded in an existing finite element code. Feasibility of the method is shown through analysis of several problems, including a built-up structure. Accurate design sensitivity results are obtained without the uncertainty of numerical accuracy associated with selection of finite difference perturbations.

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