Structural Analysis (in Education) with VisualAnalysis

When you attend (or teach) a structural engineering class you will at some point come across the need for a beam/frame analysis software. Hand calculations tend to get tedious and a good software can help you efficiently analyze and then size structural elements. There are many software options available these days including the following:

If that course is in any field other than civil engineering (like architecture in my case) most of those programs are often too complex and it gets too cumbersome to cover all the relevant topics. There are only so many hours in the (academic) day to learn yet another software. I was faced with that conundrum some years ago when I discovered VisualAnalysis by Ies Inc. They have a free, limited-capacity student version available and the software is easy enough to understand, so that the basics can be grasped very quickly. It allows for performing 2D and 3D frame (and plate) analyses, has a steel design tool built-in, and lets you import geometry from other design software.

Below is a playlist of instructional videos that I made for my students at that time. It was for an older version (v.8) but with some adaptations, the videos are still very applicable. The main difference to the current version is that the option to do a “truss” structural type went away. Use a “frame” analysis type instead and apply end releases, as appropriate.

Tutorial Playlist

Have you used VisualAnalysis (or any of the other software packages)? Let me know in the comments how you liked it.

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