An automatic and knowledge-based finite element mesh generator (INTELMESH), which makes extensive use of interactive computer graphics techniques, has been developed. INTELMESH is designed for planar domains and axisymmetric 3-D structures of elasticity and heat transfer subjected to mechanical and thermal loading. It intelligently identifies the critical regions/points in the problem domain and utilizes the new concepts of substructuring and wave propagation to choose the proper mesh size for them. INTELMESH generates well-shaped triangular elements by applying triangulation and Laplacian smoothing procedures. The adaptive analysis involves the initial finite element analysis and an efficient a-posteriori error analysis and estimation. Once a problem is defined, the system automatically builds a finite element model and analyzes the problem through an automatic iterative process until the error reaches a desired level. It has been shown that the proposed approach which initiates the process with an a-priori, and near optimum mesh of the object, converges to the desired accuracy in less time and at less cost.