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10 Tips To Make Great Design and Simulation Projects

I guess we can all agree that the best part of Mechanical Engineering is these projects we get to do on different kinds of software and see our imaginations come to life. Learning subject fluid mechanics and heat transfer is one thing, but seeing it on CFD and FEA is a blissful experience. Learning the Design of Machine Elements in class and then designing your cotter or knuckle joint on CAD, or manufacturing a little component using CAM is what makes you and skilled engineer.

Some of the common designing and simulation software: 

  1. CAD (computer-aided design): – This software allows you to build 3D models of parts and assemblies. For example, you can design every part of an IC engine and then combine them into an assembly. Here you can also check whether the parts fit together as intended or check for interferences between parts. CAD also allows you to create 2D drawings of your parts so that they can be manufactured. Popular 3D CAD software is SolidWorks, CATIA, and Autodesk.
  2. CAM (computer-aided manufacturing): – converts CAD models into information that can be used by machines on the shop floor. The software delivers information on how different types of equipment should perform production operations such as cutting, milling, and roughing. Popular CAM software is Fusion360, Solid Edge, CAMWorks, and Master CAM.
  3.  FEA (finite element analysis): – is useful in the need to perform structural analysis. The software allows you to analyze stresses and deflections in complex structures. Popular FEA software is ANSYS and Nastran.
  4. CFD (computational fluid dynamics): – Used to predict how liquids and gases will perform. Helps to reduce the requirement for physical prototypes while providing deeper insight into fluid flow design performance. Popular CFD software is ANSYS, Open Foam, Simscale, and Autodesk CFD.

Here are 10 Tips To Make Great Design and Simulation Projects:

1. Do the project that you find interesting.

There are a lot of hardships on road, but loving what you do will simply make it bearable. Whatever topic you select do it for your curiosity.  Because you want to see that thing work and get some insights as a mechanical engineer. Just doing it for likes and shares is not going to work out.30 Cool Tinkercad Designs, Ideas & Projects | All3DP
Like designing an 80’s retro-futuristic supercar with a fully designed interior, and drive off under palm-lined avenues into the sunset in CAD. Now getting a chance to design a car we all drove in video games as a little kid, can be a nice motivation for the project.
How about designing and automate the entire manufacturing of your own Lego model on CAM.


FINITE ELEMENT ANALYSIS OF PISTON IN ANSYSFinite element analysis and optimization of the piston for an automotive vehicle. The piston is modeled first and then FEA is performed to know about the structural and thermal loading effects. And then the value of crown thickness and skirt length of the piston by limiting various conditions like maximum temperature, maximum principal stress, Von misses stress, and maximum strain energy. Now this is some cool insight on an IC engine, isn’t it?



E. C. Escher - Waterfall (Now in 3D!) - YouTubeOne of the fun CFD simulation projects is E. C. Escher’s waterfall. Now, this is something that challenges Navier-Stokes, continuity, the third law of thermodynamics, and maybe a few more laws of fluid mechanics and heat transfer. Maybe that’s exactly what makes this project so much fun.

2. Make it creative.                                 

Be creative in your choices if you want to make them catchy. It shouldn’t end up so boring that you could barely stand it and eventually live it incomplete. Creativity is where the magic happens. “Creativity is when someone knows about ‘X’ and ‘Y’ combines them to ‘Z’ the way no one ever considered to combine them!”
Waverider | TinkercadHow about designing an automobile-based time travel vehicle (from Back to the future) or Time Bureau’s Wave Rider (from legends of tomorrow) in CAD? Now that’s a fun way of improving your CAD skills and would make a really interesting project.
How about designing and automate the entire manufacturing of your mobile holder CAM. I guess that would be like a solution to every Millennial’s problem today.

Projects – TRACImpact analysis on automobile front subframe system using composite material using FEA. Now this project gives a proposal for a suitable composite material for the car bumper.




Simulation, additive manufacturing and an ancient Greek philosopher | SimcenterPythagoras cup is an interesting piece of historic fun fluid mechanics. While to some people it may seem like a miracle, we know all the science behind it. And now with CFD, we can validate it. All thanks to applied fluid dynamics simulation.

3. Details are very important.

No compromise on fidelity. Even if you are just doing the project for fun details play a vital role. To make any high-quality design or simulation project you must be willing to take care of the details. Details are just a reflection of your dedication to the project and your understanding of the project.
Jourden's Classroom Website / Snap Fitting SamplesWhile designing something as simple as a pen in CAD, if you don’t take care of some minute details like fit between pen and its cap, we might end up with cap too tight or too loose making it completely useless. The same can be the scenario while automating the production of the bottle and its cap, using CAM.



If during FEA of composite leaf spring for an automotive vehicle, details are not considered we might end up with wrong stresses leading to unknown failure of the system.
CFD Modeling of IC Engines - CFD Flow EngineeringNot taking care of details in CFD simulation of IC engine can lead to knocking or wastage of fuel as neglecting the details might give wrong valve timings, or wrong knowledge of the flow of air, fuel and gases.




4. Be prepared for the worst.

You might be required to invest more than you thought. You might explore something, you have not done before, which implies you will get engage in unknown factors you didn’t see coming. You will go to solve this new problem and realize the complexity of the problem. Now the project needs more time, resources, and maybe some big changes from a starting point. This just another bump in the road, you may get delayed but you will reach your destination for sure.
Change in the dimension of the piston will result in big changes to the whole assembly design.
Whatever the case may be, it is quite probable that you will have to solve the FEA project several times before you will get it right. Just be prepared for it, and don’t give up.

5. Before delivering the idea, raise some curiosity.

This is the key to a good presentation. At the core is the idea of bonding the audience. Create suspense to keep the bonding, raise the question about the outcome, and then at the moment of maximum tension, at the ultimate crisis release the solution. When you want to make people engage with it, it should teach them something they have not known or even thought about.
Water Tap Fountain | TinkercadLike designing a simple device to turn any standard sink into a fountain using CAD. The first drinking fountain was designed in the 19th century and has since evolved from the necessity against the spreading of illness to the luxury of adapting the design for ease within your own home.

An FEA project on suspension and steering systems can give some wonderful unseen insights.


Willem Toet explains…CFD Post Processing | Race Tech MagazineCFD project on measuring lift and drag forces for a flow over a car’s rear wing raises questions like the selection of suitable turbulence model and suitable boundary conditions to ensure meaningful simulation results.

6. Make the project relatable to the masses.

A complete core project will only attract Engineers. Chose a project that targets the larger audience that is common people.
Locker Cup Holder (done) | TinkercadLike designing a cup holder for your vehicle or locker or on the work table, to prevent spillage. It might not be cool but it can be an essential product.



Structural analysis of a bicycle frame - Projects - SimScale CAE Forum

A project on FEA analysis of frame for a bicycle frame to improve the performance of a bicycle. Simulation of the bicycle frame, driving on an irregular road using static structural analysis. Now, this can interest cycling enthusiastic.
CFD project on BBQ is something relatable to everyone, giving an unseen insight no one ever thought about.

7. Give them nice visuals.

Do beautiful post-processing. It might not be a functional part or technical part of the project but it is like a cherry on the cake. A little extra work visual is not going to be harmful, rather it could be seen as a plus point. A nice aesthetic is something inevitable to human eyes.
Like designing butterfly valve assembly in CAD and giving it a nice surface finish, proper GD&T, and labeling.

8. Make sure the project is relevant.

Your project should be relevant to the current market and world scenarios. Make a list of hot topics in today’s world. Like right now the market is all about Covid19, Electric Vehicles, BH6, renewable energy, and self-driving vehicles, etc.
So projects on designing a more comfortable mask, sanitization system in public places, sanitization through UV radiation will be a plus point.
FEA and CFD projects on Electric Vehicles and self-driving vehicle, vehicle dynamics for self-driving cars, and simulation of self-driving cars can be good for your profile.
Design and FEA of blades for wind turbine manufacturing and application of CFD to study airflow and airfoil can be useful to set up more windmill farms just like in Denmark.

Wind Turbine Blade | 3D CAD Model Library | GrabCAD

Simulation of the airflow around a wind turbine: https://www.simscale.com/projects/jprobst/simulation_of_the_air… | Computational fluid dynamics, Wind turbine, Wind


If you have a hunch about the potential of an emerging market, be prepared to put your money where your mouth is.

9. Take the project seriously.

Yes, they are fun projects but the secret to make it remarkable lies in your seriousness. Don’t take anything for granted. Things can be more complicated than they seem to be. Starting a project is always fun. You get to think of a solution to a particular problem. But at point things get more complicated, and now you suppose to get serious. Just do not give up and keep developing.

10. Tool you choose should be fun to work with.

Now, this is what would let you conduct your fun project with joy. Choose the tool that works for you, the one you are most comfortable with. A tool with a better user interface, more features, and better visualization is preferable. The tool you chose should be accurate, time and money-saving, easily controllable, with an easy data transfer feature that is easy to export and import files. Example: – AutoCAD, CATIA, Fusion 360, ANSYS and SimScale.


I hope these tips come useful and you have a great project journey. And if you are curious and want to learn CFD in detail, then you can take the course of Computational Fluid Dynamics Basics to Industrial Application. It is an online course for those who want to learn about professional applications along with a solid base of Industrial CFD.

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