Fundamentals of Finite Element Analysis is intended to be the text for a
senior-level finite element course in engineering programs. The most
appropriate major programs are civil engineering, engineering mechanics,
and mechanical engineering. The finite element method is such a widely used
analysis-and-design technique that it is essential that undergraduate engineering
students have a basic knowledge of the theory and applications of the technique.
Toward that objective, I developed and taught an undergraduate “special topics”
course on the finite element method at Washington State University in the summer
of 1992. The course was composed of approximately two-thirds theory and
one-third use of commercial software in solving finite element problems. Since
that time, the course has become a regularly offered technical elective in the
mechanical engineering program and is generally in high demand. During
the developmental process for the course, I was never satisfied with any text that
was used, and we tried many. I found the available texts to be at one extreme or
the other; namely, essentially no theory and all software application, or all theory
and no software application. The former approach, in my opinion, represents
training in using computer programs, while the latter represents graduate-level
study. I have written this text to seek a middle ground.