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Finite Element Structural Analysis on an Excel Spreadsheet

COURSE NO: S04-003
Finite Element Structural Analysis on an Excel Spreadsheet
Course Highlights

This online engineering PDH course demonstrates how to perform Finite Element Structural Analysis on an Excel Spreadsheet. Conventional thinking is that Finite Element (FE) analysis is complex and requires expensive commercial software. Finite element software and spreadsheet software are two essential tools for structural engineers. This online engineering PDH course combines the two into a FE spreadsheet that puts the power of FE method into the versatility of a spreadsheet.


The user is provided with a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that solves FE two dimensional (2D) frame-type structural engineering problems. This spreadsheet is simplistic in comparison to commercial software and much more limited in capabilities, but is completely adequate for many structural building frame-type problems. The spreadsheet is used to teach all the steps in a finite element problem. The entire problem is inclusive on one spreadsheet; the user can see input, formulas, intermediate calculated values, and output on one sheet. This makes it easy for the user to follow the steps in the problem solution, while the spreadsheet handles the data.


This 4 PDH online course is applicable to structural design engineers working with a beam, truss, frame or elastic foundation problems. The user is expected to:

  • have Excel 5.0 or higher software
  • have a working understanding of spreadsheet formulas (Visual Basic programming and macro skills are not necessary)
  • be able to create a structural 2D frame model with nodes and members
  • be aware of matrix mathematics (addition, multiplication and inversion of matrices), although detailed knowledge of matrices is not needed.
Learning Objectives

This PE continuing education course is intended to provide you with the following specific knowledge and skills:

  • The characteristics of truss, beam and frame-type members
  • The characteristics of node data & member data
  • The difference between local coordinates & global coordinates
  • Various methods to check calculated computer results
  • The difference between continuous versus discretized systems
  • The basic assumptions underlying FE theory
  • Various methods to simplify complex FE problems
  • The theory used to solve a FE problem
  • The benefits, uses and limitations of the provided FE spreadsheet
Course Document

In this professional engineering CEU course, you need to review the course document titled “Finite Element Structural Analysis on an Excel Spreadsheet”. In addition, you need to review the two Excel spreadsheets for structural calculations associated with this course.

To view, print and study the course document, please click on the following link(s):
Finite Element Structural Analysis on an Excel Spreadsheet (3.19 MB)
Excel Spreadsheet 1: FEM 16N 37M (627 KB)
Excel Spreadsheet 2: FEM 5Node 5Mem (143 KB)
Course Quiz
Once you complete your course review, you need to take a multiple-choice quiz consisting of twenty five (25) questions to earn 4 PDH credits. The quiz will be based on all three documents.
The minimum passing score is 70%. There is no time limit on the quiz, and you can take it multiple times until you pass at no additional cost.
Certificate of Completion

Upon successful completion of the quiz, print your Certificate of Completion instantly. (Note: if you are paying by check or money order, you will be able to print it after we receive your payment.) For your convenience, we will also email it to you. Please note that you can log in to your account at any time to access and print your Certificate of Completion.

To buy the course and take the quiz, please click on: