101-0158-01L  Method of Finite Elements I

SemesterSpring Semester 2020
LecturersE. Chatzi, P. Steffen
Periodicityyearly recurring course
Language of instructionEnglish


101-0158-01 GMethod of Finite Elements I2 hrs
Mon12:45-14:30HIL E 10.1 »
12:45-14:30HIL E 15.2 »
13:00-15:00ER SA TZ »
E. Chatzi, P. Steffen

Catalogue data

AbstractThis course will introduce students to the fundamental concepts of the widely established Method of Finite Elements including element formulations, numerical solution procedures and modelling details. The course will also equip students with the ability to code algorithms (largely based on MATLAB) for the solution of practical problems in Infrastructure and Civil engineering.
ObjectiveThe Direct Stiffness Method is revisited and the basic principles of Matrix Structural Analysis are overviewed.
The basic theoretical concepts of the Method of Finite Elements are imparted and perspectives for problem solving procedures are provided.
Linear finite element models for truss and continuum elements are introduced and their application for structural elements is demonstrated.
The Method of Finite Elements is implemented on practical problems through accompanying demonstrations and assignments.
Content1) Introductory Concepts
Matrices and linear algebra - short review.

2) The Direct Stiffness Method
Demos and exercises in MATLAB & Commercial FE software

3) Formulation of the Method of Finite Elements.
- The Principle of Virtual Work
- Isoparametric formulations
- 1D Elements (truss, beam)
- 2D Elements (plane stress/strain)
Demos and exercises in MATLAB & Commercial FE software

4) Practical application of the Method of Finite Elements.
- Practical Considerations
- Results Interpretation
- Final Project where a Real Test Case is modelled and analyzed
Lecture notesThe lecture notes are in the form of slides, available online from the course webpage
LiteratureStructural Analysis with the Finite Element Method: Linear Statics, Vol. 1 & Vol. 2 by Eugenio Onate (available online via the ETH Library)

Supplemental Reading
Bathe, K.J., Finite Element Procedures, Prentice Hall, 1996.
Prerequisites / NoticePrior basic knowledge of MATLAB is necessary.

Performance assessment

Performance assessment information (valid until the course unit is held again)
Performance assessment as a semester course
ECTS credits4 credits
ExaminersE. Chatzi, P. Steffen
Typegraded semester performance
Language of examinationEnglish
RepetitionRepetition only possible after re-enrolling for the course unit.
Additional information on mode of examinationThe final grade comes by 45% from 3 graded Homeworks (15% each) and by 55% by a written examination, which will be on the last day of the course.

Learning materials

No public learning materials available.
Only public learning materials are listed.


No information on groups available.


There are no additional restrictions for the registration.

Offered in

Civil Engineering MasterMajor in Structural EngineeringWInformation
Civil Engineering MasterMajor in Materials and MechanicsWInformation