Modeling and computer simulation of an internal combustion engine's operating processes offers a valuable tool for enhancing our understanding of real physical phenomena and contributes significantly to optimizing and controlling the engine's operation to meet different objectives. This paper illustrates the use of engine modeling in the educational setting through the development and use of a single-zone, premixed charge, spark-ignition engine heat release simulation. The paper begins by describing the operation of an engine. A heat release simulation is then discussed in depth, and a description is given of how it can be used to offer an understanding of thermodynamic fundamentals in an internal combustion engine. In particular, a comprehensive examination of the thermodynamic properties of the engine working fluid and in-cylinder gas-to-wall heat transfer demonstrates the need for accurate physicalchemical sub-models when performing a high-fidelity heat release analysis. Overall, this study demonstrates the power of such an engine simulation tool in an educational setting.