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This inspiring course encourages students to solve geotechnical engineering problems using both traditional engineering solutions and the more versatile finite element solutions. This approach not only teaches the concepts but also provides means to gain more insight into geotechnical engineering applications that reinforce the concepts in a very profound manner.

The main prerequisite for this course would be an undergraduate-level soil mechanics course. An introductory finite element analysis course is recommended but not essential. General soil mechanics principles are presented for each online lecture, followed by traditional applications of these principles with longhand solutions, which are followed in turn by finite element solutions for the same applications, and then both solutions are compared. Further, more complex applications are presented and solved using the finite element method.

The course consist of nine sections, eight of which deal with traditional soil mechanics topics, including stresses in semi-infinite soil mass, consolidation, shear strength, shallow foundations, lateral earth pressure, deep foundations (piles), and seepage. The course includes one section that describes several elastic and elastoplastic material models, some of which are used within the framework of the finite element method to simulate soil behavior, including a generalized three-dimensional linear elastic model, the Cam clay model, and the Drucker-Prager cap model. 

Numerous solved examples will be presented and discussed during this course. Most are solved longhand to illustrate the concepts and then solved using the finite element method embodied in the computer program Abaqus. All finite element examples are solved using Abaqus. This computer program is used worldwide by educators and engineers to solve various types of civil engineering and engineering mechanics problems. One of the major advantages of using this program is that it is capable of solving most geotechnical engineering problems. The program can be used to tackle geotechnical engineering problems involving two- and three-dimensional configurations that may include soil and structural elements, total and effective stress analysis, consolidation analysis, seepage analysis, static and dynamic (implicit and explicit) analysis, failure and post-failure analysis, and a lot more. Nevertheless, other popular finite element or finite difference computer programs specializing in soil mechanics can be used in conjunction with this course in lieu of Abaqus.

The PC Education Version of Abaqus can be obtained via the internet (free download for enrolled students) so that the student and practitioner can use it to rework the examples presented in this course and to solve the homework assignments. Furthermore, the input data for all examples can be downloaded from this website. This can be very useful for the student and practitioner, since they can see how the input should be for a certain problem and then can modify the input data to solve more complex problems of the same class. A step-by-step input procedure for all Abaqus examples will be provided as well. 

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