- A shear deformable composite element with integral progressive damage capability is incorporated into a commercial finite element program, ABAQUS(R), as a user element. The motivation is to enable a designer to model composite structures using plate/shell elements that capture a three dimensional state of stress to predict damage progression. The implementation details and protocols are presented with an example of a composite plate with a hole subjected to in-plane loading is used to discuss the results. The user elements ability to capture a three dimensional state of stress with damage progression is displayed. Excellent correlation is maintained between the ABAQUS(R) shell element (S8R5) and the user element in the linear and nonlinear geometric results for in-plane stresses and strains.