Computational Engineering


This module covers two areas of computational engineering : Computational Fluid Dynamics, or CFD, and Finite Element analysis applied to structures and materials. Although this describes the course, it is worth sorting out the terminology. The course covers computational approaches to continuum mechanics problems. However there are three basic approaches in use :
  1. Finite Difference (FD) approaches - really only used for simple problems
  2. Finite Element (FE) approaches - can be used for all continuum mechanics problems, but usually applied to stress analysis problems
  3. Finite Volume (FV) approaches - again, can be applied to all CM problems, but must usually applied to CFD. 

Most commercially available CFD codes (such as Fluent, STAR-CD, and CFX) are based on the Finite Volume method.

The aim of the module  is to provide the student with the necessary tools to make critical use of computational methods for solving engineering problems. Commercial codes are available which represent thousands of man-hours of work developing these methods, and so it is seldom necessary to write a CFD code from scratch. However it is necessary to understand the methods being used in order to utilise them to get the right answer. Wrong answers are very easy to get from a CFD code though.

FD Methods:

Lecture slides can be downloaded

Lecture 1 - Introduction. 
Lecture 2 - Intro to Finite Difference Methods - also the heat transfer spreadsheet
Lecture 3 - Explicit and Implicit schemes
Lecture 4 - Mathematical issues

(lecture notes also available for 1, 2, 3, 4)


The course includes a set of 4 lectures on the basics of CFD. The lecture slides can be downloaded (lectures 1, 2, 3, 4) or as notes (notes 1, 2, 3, 4). Alternatively a full text version of the lectures is also available:

Basics of CFD
Solution algorithms

A short exercise using the commercial code Fluent is provided to familiarise the student with the basics of operation. The student then undertakes a number of short `mini-projects', using CFD to investigate engineering problems.

FV transport spreadsheet here. (a more sophisticated version is also available here).

Useful links:

Fluent home page