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Sanju Cherian From CAD to FEA

How to become a FEA Simulation Engineer from a CAD Design Engineer

By Sanju Cherian

 The industry requires Finite Element Analysis Experts more than ever. This article compares the skills sets and describes the pathway how to become a FEA Simulation from a CAD Design Engineer. It is the powerful approach to perform What-if experiments.


 The industry requires Finite Element Analysis Experts more than ever. This article compared the skills sets and describes the pathway how to become a FEA Simulation from a CAD Design Engineer. 

Finite Element Analysis (FEA) is a computer-aided engineering (CAE) tool used to analyze how a design reacts under real-world conditions. It is also known as a very powerful approach to perform What-if experiments. Useful in structural, vibration, and thermal analysis, FEA has been widely implemented by automotive companies. It’s used by design engineers as a design tool during the product development process because it allows them to analyse their own designs while they are still in the form of easily modifiable CAD models, providing quick turnaround times and ensuring prompt implementation of analysis results in the design process. While FEA software is readily available, successful use of FEA as a design tool still requires an understanding of FEA basics, familiarity with the FEA process and commonly used modeling techniques, and an appreciation of inherent errors and their effect on the quality of results. When used properly, the FEA becomes a tremendous productivity tool, helping design engineers reduce product development time and cost.


Computer Aided Design (CAD) is an important skill in today’s world. It has many real world applications, from building cars to modelling construction sites. CAD is a high-earning career path with attractive remuneration whilst offering the chance of artistic expression. A good CAD designer is continuously learning and improving their skills and will always find ways to challenge themselves. A CAD system plays a major role in how products are designed. How well you are able to manage and implement your own CAD system has a large impact on your company’s overall productivity and success.

Finite Element Analysis Honeycomb lightweight


Finite Element method is generally used in FEA to compute approximate solutions of boundary problems (field problems) in engineering. “Field variables” are the variables of interest that are governed by a differential equation. They must achieve a boundary condition for specific values of the variables (or related variables). A “node” is a specific point on the finite element that contains the value of the field variable — that is normally explicitly calculated. These values are then used to compute values at non-nodal points through interpolation of values at the nodes using shape functions.



FEA is among the most powerful and commonly used features in CAD design.

It is integral to CAD for analyzing an object through the use of finite elements that include small rectangular and triangular shapes. To analyze the whole object, each finite element in the whole object network is analyzed, and the outcomes are combined to plot the overall behavior of a complex object. Each element can be analyzed for certain property thresholds like stress-strain, dynamics, thermal properties — or any other characteristics (depending on where it is applied).

In a CAD workflow, you can define each element and network structure as you require in your design.

Key features of a good FEA Simulation Engineer and a CAD Design Engineer

FEA Simulation Expertise CAD Expertise
Ability to create finite element model and analyze problems in thermal and thermo-fluids domain in high and low temperature range.
Ability to create high-quality detailed technical drawings and plans based on designs supplied by architects and designers and make modifications to existing drawings
Involve in finite element modeling and analysis in structural domain responding to linear and non-linear problems.
Perform modeling of mechanisms for kinematics, dynamics and force analysis.
Use a variety of CAD software programmes to create designs in 2D and 3D models
Liaise with architects, engineers and designers to understand their design requirements and provide technical advice to manufacturing and construction technicians
Head engineering programs involving FEA & CFD for new product designs and modifications like weight reduction to meet customer requirements.
Provide accurate, detailed and to scale drawings of the model
Support strategic planning and deployment of additional CAE modeling processes to accelerate product development.
Ensure drawings are compliant with industry and health and safety standards and protocols
Provide stress and structural support to design and certification groups based on given geometry model and translate actual problem to Finite Element Analysis (FEA) model, interpret analysis results and select best solution.
Calculate costs and apply knowledge of materials and engineering principles to check feasibility of manufacture and construction of the products
Review project-related analysis result to ensure project accuracy. Interpret analysis results and convert them to design suggestions.
Be creative in taking an idea from its inception and creating a representation on a different medium, a computer. To be a good CAD designer, you must be highly creative and innovative.


FEA allows engineers to conduct the simulation of a designed model rather than having to create a physical model for testing purposes. FEM during analysis allows modeling of a diverse number of material types, and the ability to monitor how confined effects impact a small area of design in complicated geometry. Fluid dynamics, deformation of a vehicle from collision and stress on human bones are some of the practical utilization of finite element modeling software by engineers. A CAD Engineer learning these key attributes will make them a successful FEM Simulation Engineer having the skills of both Design and Simulation helping organisations to create better and sustainable products.



  • Developing Expert CAD Systems by V. Begg
  • Finite Element Analysis (FEA) for Design Engineers by Dr. Paul Kurowski
  • Sub-modeling finite element analysis of 3D printed structures
    J Zarbakhsh, et. al. Multi-Physics Simulation IEEE 2015

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