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Mechanical

Uploaded on

12 Sep 2022

What does it take to become an FEA Engineer?

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Skill-Lync

What does it take to become an FEA Engineer?

 

We are in a world where Finite Element Analysis (FEA) is a popular field of discussion in Engineering. FEA engineers are in great demand all across automobile and construction industries. Organizations are increasingly looking out for FEA engineers as they can save time and effort involved in prototyping and eliminate wrong designs in the initial design stages itself. FEA is inseparable from CAE (Computer-Aided Engineering). CAE refers to software used for designing and analysis of CAD models. FEA involves a lot of calculations using Partial Differential Equations (PDEs). Hence, without CAE it is hard to perform the analysis.

 

Becoming an FEA engineer requires a thorough understanding of the Fundamentals of Strength of Materials (SOM) and Design of Machine Elements(DME). Broadly, we can divide the CAE/FEA processes into three levels.

 

  1. Meshing & preprocessing
  2. Solving
  3. Automating


Meshing & Preprocessing

Meshing is a process of discretizing a large component into small known elements and analyzing the impact of any external force on that element. The impact analysis is then extrapolated to the entire component to arrive at a global solution.

 

The initial roles and responsibilities here are to perform meshing and do connections. “Connections” here means, to connect the component which is meshed to the larger assembly. For example, a door is connected by a hinge to the chassis. 

 

Progress based on projects undertaken and experience leads to the next phase here, which is vehicle integration and morphing. Vehicle integration is to combine all individual components and assemblies into the whole vehicle. And, in cases where a few design changes are morphing helps to adapt to the new form. A good 1-2 years trains you to learn all the basics and also lets you see the entire machine in toto and parts.

 

ANSA and Hypermesh are a few tools that you need to get hands-on experience with. Projects like meshing the seat of a car or the tire of a motorcycle will help you gain experience. This is just the first step.

 

Solving

 

The next phase of growth is to find solutions to the already meshed components prepared in the preprocessing stage. You need to develop an understanding of static and dynamic simulation. Static is that type of simulation where time is not a factor, and dynamic is one where time is considered as a factor.

 

Then, you need to learn explicit solving. These are some rare scenarios like a vehicle crash. This is to put the simulation to the test in various unknown situations.

 

Next is to solve for materials and take decisions on what material to use for the component. Each material has its unique properties like malleability, ductility, etc. Simulations will help to take decisions on the type of material to choose.

 

Next is to solve for Noise, Vibration & Harshness (NVH), and durability of the component. Energy is neither created nor destroyed, it is just transformed from one form to another. NVH is one of those ways where energy produced goes unutilized. Hence, an FEA engineer needs to keep it as low as possible. Not just that, consider a car and passengers inside. It is extremely irritating for the user to experience NVH inside the vehicle.

 

The final analysis is to check for the durability of the component. Fatigue analysis helps in material selection, choosing the manufacturing process, etc.  This with also keeping in mind the overall cost and resources available.

 

Ansys workbench and LS Dyna are used for simulation, as discussed above. Radioss is effective for dynamic simulation. LS Dyna & Radioss also has a good amount of material library for material selection. Nastran is the tool used to solve durability exercises. It takes a good amount of 3-5 years for one to claim expertise here. Some of the projects like calculating vehicle crashworthiness can help you gain experience in this area. You can choose to be a solver or an automation analyst. Here, it is more to go in-depth on the material, its properties, its durability, etc. But “automation” is more to do with programming to automate results basis changes in the input.

 

Automating

 

This could be a good career option if you are good at coding & debugging. This is the right path for you. Your ability to automate the process is the primary requirement here. TCL/TK is the tool for Hypermesh. Python is also used frequently.

 

Conclusion

 

Now, you know what the different career options are for an FEA engineer. Let’s discuss now where and how to start.

 

The best way to Fastrack your career as an FEA engineer is to work on industry-relevant projects. Here are some pro tips that you can follow.

 

  1. Learn to use Hypermesh and undertake a project like meshing the dashboard of a vehicle. This can help you gain experience while learning.
  2. Learn to use ANSA for structural mesh. Projects like modeling a suspension for a vehicle can be effective.
  3. Learn to use Ansys Workbench for structural analysis. Fatigue analysis of suspension systems is one such project in this area.
  4. Learn Radioss and perform the exercise of vehicle crashworthiness with it.
  5. Learn to use LS Dyna for material modeling. Take the same case of suspension and perform material modeling on it.
  6. Learn automation using TCL/TK for Hypermesh. And, try to automate the meshing part.
  7. Scout for real-world projects to get hands-on knowledge on this.

 

These are some of the ways you can plan your journey of becoming an FEA engineer. The path is not easy. It has its ups and downs, but no doubt it is interesting and has a huge demand.


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Anup KumarH S


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