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A Hands-on Introduction to Engineering Simulations


  • High school physics including Newton’s second law
  • Differential and integral calculus
  • Basic Matrix algebra

Content Availability

All the content in this course will be available from the start. If you are intending to take the entire course, it's best to start with Module 1 and work through Module 6 in order because the later modules assume you have covered the earlier work.

Time Commitment

Some modules will take more time to complete than others. Try to complete one module per week on average in order to cover all the material in 6 weeks. We estimate 4-6 hours per week will be needed. Some of the modules are optional and do not count toward the Verified Certificate, so if you are short on time, leave those for last. The course will be available in unattended archive mode after it ends so the material will still be available.

The instructor and TAs will be regularly available throughout the course to help with questions about the content and in using ANSYS software. However they cannot respond individually in a course of this size. Please help your fellow students if you know the answer to their questions by posting in the discussion boards. TAs will be present in the discussion boards on a regular basis. You will see their posts tagged with a blue "staff" label.

What you'll learn

By the end of this course you will be able to:

  • Describe the "big ideas" in finite-element analysis and computational fluid dynamics
  • Develop structural mechanics simulations using ANSYS Mechanical ™
  • Develop Fluid dynamics simulations using ANSYS Fluent ™
  • Describe the mathematical models underlying simulations
  • Build simulations of real-world applications using ANSYS® software
  • Verify and validate simulations including checking against hand calculations
  • Approach engineering analysis and simulations like an expert

Assessment (What will I be graded on? What counts towards certification completion?)

There are 12 subsections in the course (Bike Crank, Bike Crank HW, Bolted Nozzle Flange, Bolted Nozzle Flange HW, etc.) and they are all weighted equally even though the number of questions is not the same in each subsection. Only the best 11 subsection scores will count towards your final total, meaning that 1 subsection with the lowest score will be dropped. 

Academic Integrity Assessment

All work must be your own. You can help and ask for help on the discussion boards, and discuss topics freely--this is encouraged! But don't submit somebody else's work as your own. Additionally, all students are expected to follow the edX Honor Code.

Completion and Certification

A grade of 60% or more correct responses on the Check Your Understanding and Homework problems combined is considered successful completion.

Upon successful completion, a certificate is is offered only to students enrolled in the Verified Certificate track. This course does not offer an Honor code certificate for students that audit the course. Details about certificates are available on the edX Verified Certificates page.

Discussion Board Etiquette

The discussion forum can be a great tool for learning, a place to share ideas, ask questions, and support other learners. If you are not familiar with edX course discussions, please review the discussion guide for students.  To help improve the quality of discussion, please keep the following in mind:

  • Please be respectful Refrain from inappropriate language and personal attacks. Disagree politely. Try writing, "Have you thought about it from this aspect ?" rather than "You're wrong; this is the right way to do it."
  • Please post in the correct discussion board. Each topic has a board for discussing the content material and concepts, and when ANSYS software is used, a board for discussing the technical issues of the software.
  • Before posting please be sure to search to see if someone else has already asked your question.  This will keep all discussion related to that topic in a single thread.
  • Please be sure NOT to give away the answers when posting your question or when responding to the question of another student.
  • Remember English is not the primary language of many learners in this class. Please try not to use slang or abbreviations.
  • No marketing.

Downloading and Installing ANSYS Student 

ANSYS Student is available free from ANSYS, Inc. at their website ( When downloading, select the  release 16.2 which is clearly identified on the ANSYS page as the one for the "Cornell edX course." A computer with a Windows operating system is required.

The free download, plus installation help, and resources are available from this page. Also, see Module 1 >  Introduction > Accessing ANSYS  within the courseIn downloading this software, you are agreeing to ANSYS' Terms of Use.

If you encounter problems installing the software, please use the discussion board under Module 1 >  Introduction > Accessing ANSYS . Do a search first to see if the problem has already been addressed before posting. Because of the large number of students in this MOOC, please help your fellow learners by responding to their questions if you know the answer or can help.

What if I don’t have access to a machine running Microsoft Windows (64-bit)?

Please read this section if you are using MacOS, ChromeOS (e.g. Chromebook), or Linux operating systems. ANSYS is making a limited number of accounts available on FRA.ME, which allows the ANSYS Student software to run in a web browser (on the cloud). This option is initially limited to students who will be taking the course from within the United States but may be expanded to other locations if resources permit. Preference will be given to students signed up for a Verified Certificate. You can request an account on FRA.ME by filling out this form.

FRA.ME accounts will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis for a limited number of students. If you receive a FRA.ME account, you must use it at least once each week starting with the first day of the MOOC. Otherwise your account will be deactivated and made available to another student. To set up an account, we will need information about your operating system, browser, location and edX screen name. Most of this will be automatically collected when you complete the application form requesting a FRA.ME account. So please use the computer and browser in the location from which you will take this course when filling out this form. If you don't want to provide this information, then don't fill out the form, or if you change your mind while filling out the form, then don't submit it. This information will only be used in setting up this account. Unfortunately, we can't set up an account without it.

After you receive a FRA.ME account, read this document carefully for instructions on running ANSYS Student in a web browser via FRA.ME. 

Please do not sign up for a FRA.ME Demo account. There can't be more than one FRA.ME account per email address, so FRA.ME is having to delete demo accounts and re-inviting people. Please save them this work by only signing up using this form.

Check out this ANSYS blog article on "ANSYS Student in a Browser Powered by Frame and Microsoft Azure." It mentions the initiative to provide free remote access to ANSYS for students in this MOOC.

ANSYS®, ANSYS® Workbench TM, ANSYS® DesignModelerTM, ANSYS®MechanicalTM, ANSYS® AIMTM and ANSYS®FluentTM are registered trademarks of ANSYS Inc. or its subsidiaries in the United States or other countries.