FREE Cornell University Course Teaching Engineering Simulations

Do you or someone you know want to learn how to simulate exciting engineering applications using ANSYS and pick up a practical skill sought by employers? Starting next week, February 15th, Cornell University is offering a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) that teaches the hands-on use of ANSYS. This FREE online course entitled “A hands-on introduction to engineering simulations” is self-paced, enabling participants to go through the lecture videos and complete homework problems on their own schedule. Interested people can sign up now.

This is the first MOOC to teach the hands-on use of a commercial FEA or CFD tool and was initially offered in June 2016. It is a new kind of course that seamlessly integrates the fundamental math and physics with commercial FEA/CFD software use so that students can move beyond garbage-in, garbage-out and starting thinking like an expert. It covers the big ideas in FEA and CFD as well as how to apply them to solve practical problems using ANSYS. 

The course does not offer university credit but interested participants can get a verified certificate of completion for $49.

engineering simulation course onlineLearners can go through the course using free ANSYS Student (version 17.2) or use a commercial/academic version that they may already have access to. Participants also have the option of running ANSYS in the cloud via FRAME for a small fee. The advantage of this option is that users can run ANSYS in a web browser on any device without the need to install it locally.

This MOOC is an initiative of the Swanson Engineering Simulation program at Cornell which supports the integration of simulation tools into engineering courses. The Swanson program was established through a gift from Dr. John Swanson, the founder of ANSYS Inc.

I have had the privilege of leading this program since its inception in 2000 and the MOOC is the culmination of our efforts to integrate professional simulation software into the engineering curriculum. The MOOC draws content from five mechanical and aerospace engineering courses at Cornell, presenting a uniform approach across solid mechanics, fluid dynamics and heat transfer.

Video lectures cover the math and physics background as well as steps in the ANSYS interface. The videos are on average 4 minutes long and overlay writing on a virtual chalkboard, PowerPoint® slides and ANSYS demos. The online lectures were rated as exceeding expectations by nearly 80% of the students in the first offering.

One of the modules — analysis of a bolted flange joint — has been developed in collaboration with Mr. Andy Sadhwani, an aerospace engineer at SpaceX. Andy describes how to develop the ANSYS model from the real application by making assumptions and simplifications and how to interpret the ANSYS results. Students have greatly appreciated hearing directly from an industry expert as they are working with the tool.

Over 25,000 people from 167 countries registered for the previous offering. Of these, around 9,000 people were active with nearly 1,600 completing the course. I am very excited about the future prospects of this initiative which combines two disruptive technologies — online learning and physics-based simulations. It is not only helping me teach thousands of people worldwide but also changing my on-campus instruction by helping me flip the classroom. With lectures online, I can use classroom time to help students complete homework and apply their knowledge. I see this as moving from lecturing to mentoring in the classroom.

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About Dr Rajesh Bhaskaran

Dr. Rajesh Bhaskaran is the Swanson Director of Engineering Simulation in the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Cornell University. His work seeks to promote the “democratization of simulation” through effective integration of simulation tools into engineering education. He has helped introduce industry-standard simulation tools into Cornell courses covering fluid mechanics, heat transfer, solid mechanics and numerical analysis. He has led the development of simcafe.org as an online portal for learning and teaching simulations. He has organized two international workshops on simulation in engineering curricula. He was selected to take part in the National Academy of Engineering’s Frontiers of Engineering Education symposium in 2011 for “developing and implementing innovative educational approaches”. Dr. Bhaskaran holds a B. Tech degree from Indian Institute of Technology, Madras and a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from Iowa State University.