Written by: Shaun Bentley, Application Engineer
A feeling of anxiety swept over me in a split-second. I’d felt it before at least a thousand times. Then, I made contact with the ball and it sailed straight up in the air. Some vague feeling told me that my legs were positioned poorly, I wasn’t looking down at the ball, or a dozen other things that I had practiced might not have been in their correct places. My mental image of my motion did not match the motion of my body. Just one or two small adjustments is all I need.
This time my form felt in place. Even before I made contact, I knew the ball was going to go right where I imagined it should go. It was no surprise since I’ve done it many times before. It’s easy to forget that a small adjustment can have such a big impact.
Sports are rich with analogies. Finite element analysis (FEA) concepts can be abstract and sometimes inaccessible when dealing with them directly. Because of this, when I think about FEA, I am frequently thinking in terms of analogies to other aspects of my life to make it easier to grasp. One of the most potent ideas that sticks in my mind is that making apparently small changes or adjustments can yield large differences in the results. At first, seeing these possibilities can make me anxious, but then, once I’ve practiced with it, I start to get a sense of which adjustments matter most.
Since I can run many simplified simulations in a short timeframe, I can use that to my advantage and practice on my model. If it is a familiar problem, I simply need to remember a lot of the important details that I should account for. If there are any novelties, I may need to test a few different scenarios to see how the model reacts. Eventually, after running many tests, my anxiety subsides. I am now comfortable with the model in Simulation, can make recommendations, and am ready to move to the next stage in my design process.
Every problem has some degree of novelty. Through practice, experimenting, making adjustments, you can find out what really matters to get the results that are important.