A European network of finite element analysis technology users is canvassing opinions worldwide on best practices and current limitations of computer analysis tools.

"The objective is to find out what research needs doing, and the next step is to get it done," says David Quinn, a consultant with U.K.-based National Agency for Finite Element Methods and Standards Ltd., East Kilbride, which coordinates the FENET network.

Finite element, as it is applied in civil engineering to model complicated structures and analyze stress, is "quite immature," according to NAFEMS. Civil engineering issues being examined include problems such as modeling faulty reinforced concrete and predicting the efficacy of repairs.

Launched last year with European Union support, FENET now comprises 110 organizations in eight sectors, including civil construction. In its planned four-year life, FENET aims to improve finite element technology and bolster confidence in its results. The survey is at www.fe-net.org. Results will be available at that location after the end of this month.