Why a Design Engineer is supreme to an FEA Engineer?

A Design Engineer and an FEA Engineer normally should work side by side.  This doesn't mean they must accompany each other during coffee breaks and lunch breaks (its better if they do it) but knowing each other's capability and job profile.

An FEA Engineer’s task is to model the actual physics into Finite Element Model.  This is his expertise field and hence don't expect him to be able to predict too much on design.  FEA Engineers normally tend to think a lot regarding the correct element types, assumptions, material models applicable for the given problem etc.  However, whenever they make assumptions, they must consult with the Design Engineers in order to make sure that the FEA Analysis approximations are reasonable to represent the physics problem. To validate the FEA Analysis results by simplified hand calculation is the ownership of a good FEA Engineer.  However, in order to simplify the model, he must take the opinion of the Design Engineer since he is the ultimate authority when it comes to understanding the Design.

A Design Engineer on the contrary is much more focused about the performance of his design and knows what to expect whenever a particular loading is applied.

It is very much of a necessity that an FEA person keeps on asking questions regarding the Design.  Normally people shift from Design to FEA.  The general perception is FEA is one step up the ladder than Design.  But the truth is Design is always supreme. 

The process of Engineering Product Development has changed from conventional methods of historical recording to Simulation driven product development with the use of high end FEA Analysis software.   As the technology grows, the focus normally shifts from the conventional approach to emerging ones.  But the fundamentals remains same.  Be it an FEA Engineer or a Design Engineer, both of them need to apply the concept of Structural Mechanics and keep thinking.

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