Computational mechanics in science, applications and teaching

Miloš Kojić, Nenad Filipović

We express our opinion about the role of Computational Mechanics (CM) in science, applications and education. The presented thoughts rely on our experience gained by working over decades (first author in particular) in the field of CM. First, as a challenge of an opinion that computational mechanics is rather a tool, not the science, we give our view that computational mechanics is a complex interdisciplinary scientific field where new methods and solutions are sought, new hypotheses are tested, and events in material world are elucidated or predicted. It is quite an art to achieve the goal that general analytical formulations or experimental findings become useful and practical numbers, graphs, and even simulations of living systems response. Second, we would like to emphasize the enormous impact of CM in applications; ranging from the support of experimental investigations, to everyday engineering in design and industry, to bioengineering and medicine. Giant steps have been undertaken by invention of the finite element method in the 6th decade of last century. From that time on, a huge number of researchers have opened new frontiers, introducing new computational methods, improving the algorithms and ncorporating achievements in computer technology. Third, we want to address the issue of the CM participation within university programs. We believe that the CM methods, software development and application should be a significant part of the overall education in engineering departments, but also (to appropriate extent) in other departments of natural and biomedical sciences, technology and medicine. All courses should be accompanied by the corresponding software. We here cite our experience where around 40 PhD and MS theses have been completed at University of Kragujevac, with the CM topics, development of engineering software (our system of programs PAK) and applications in engineering and bioengineering. This approach in education will result in preparing students to use modern CM tools and software in their work after university studies.