|A nice day trip in California.|
On a recent trip to SolidWorks World 2010, I stayed in the area for a few days after the conference was over. One of the things I wanted to do was take a drive in the forests and mountains. I picked the Los Padres National Forest. I was limited on where I could drive in the area because of cloud cover in the mountains in the area. Here is a summary of a trip that could be done in a day.
Start in Ventura, Santa Barbara, or somewhere else in the vicinity. To start with, you have to make a decision on what route you want to take.
Option 1: TakeHighway 101over toHighway 154and go byLake Cachumaand the Bradbury Dam in the western tip of theLos Padres National Forestand on the edge of theSanta Ynez Valley. Stop at the vista point about a mile or so before you get to the lake to take in the view. Both are great sights to see.
Option 2: TakeHighway 101through theSanta Ynez MountainsnearGaviota State Park. On this route, you get a bit closer to some mountains. I took 2 drives through here (once each way) while it was raining and the sun was trying to peek through the clouds. I saw a rainbow both times.
What ever route you take, make sure you go over toSolvang, CA just west of Buellton. Solvang is a Dutch themed village with lots to see. Thanks to fellow bloggerMatt Loronofor the tip on this little out-of-the-way village. Spend as much time here as you want, but keep in mind, you will still need 5 hours or so if daylight to see and get thru the mountains.
Next, go west to Buellton and get onHighway 101North and head for Santa Maria. You may be interested in checking out the surrounding vineyards while you are here, but watch the time.
Be sure you have lots of gas, there are not many places to get gas until you are out of the moutains.
From Santa Maria, takeHighway 166East and drive through theCuyama Valley. There is not a lot to see while going thru this valley, but the foothills of the mountains to the North look like oversized sand piles from the highway.
While driving through the valley, watch forHighway 33(also known as Maricopa Highway) and head South. To me, this section of the drive is the best part of the trip. Here you will be driving through theLos Padres National Forestand into the mountains. This is a winding road through the mountain valleys and along the mountain sides. You will be cresting over 2 mountain peaks on this route, the (first) northern peak is about 5600 feet above sea level. This route also takes you through Matilija Canyon along the eastern section of theSanta Ynez Mountains. You may also want to check out Matilija Springs before you get to Ojia.
Just South West of Ojia, head on over toLake Casitasbefore heading home.
You can start and end this drive at whatever point you like. This is the route I took.
|Model Like A Maniac|
When I was at SolidWorks World 2010, one of the technical presentations I sat in on was "Model Like A Maniac" by Mark Schneider of SolidWorks. Mark runs the Model Mania Contest every year. During his presentation he stated that he always learns at least one tip or trick while reviewing/checking the model entries. He had shown some of these tips and tricks during his presentation. This was some cool stuff to see. When the presentation was complete, I asked of there was a way we could get the drawings that were used in the past. I wanted these drawings to do a similar Model Mania here at work in an effort to see if we can learn tips/tricks/techniques from each other.
Mark kindly obliged, and he has included videos while creating models of some of prior contests. He has posted themhere. When accessing these files, please keep in mind that you may not be able to see or download them if you are behind a firewall at work.
Thanks for the drawings Mark! Your sharing this is much appreciated by the SolidWorks users!
|A chance attendance at a Presidential Memorial Birthday Party|
As many of you are aware, after SolidWorks Works, my wife and do some exploring in the surrounding area before going back to the cold weather in Wisconsin. Here is an unexpected adventure we had.
We left Ventura headed toward Santa Clarita. While driving, we decided to take Highway 23 to head down to the Simi Valley. While driving, we spotted a sign, ?Ronald Reagan Presidential Library?. Since we have not been to one, we decided to check it out. When we arrived, we discovered that there was a ?99th Anniversary of Ronald Reagan?s Birthday? event starting within a few minutes of our arrival. We stayed for the keynote address by Elizabeth Dole (wife of Senator Bob Dole) and the laying of several wreaths. There was birthday cake available for everyone later.
I am always interested in new experiences, and this one is one of the most unusual?chance? experiences I have had.
|Meeting the top man.|
I was at SolidWorks World 2010, and for me, this event was 4 days long because I participated in the round tables on Sunday as well as 3 days of technical sessions. Every year I look for and meet up with some SolidWorks personnel that I have met throughout the years including Jon Hirschtick, JeffRay, Sal Lama, Marlon Banta, and many others. One of the reasons why I know so many people at SolidWorks is that everyone at SolidWorks is ?approachable? because they want to get to know their customers, and they want to know how the customers are using SolidWorks.
I did not get a change to catch up to Jon Hirschtick until Wednesday, right before General Session started. During our short discussion, he introduced me to Bernard Charlés (CEO, Dassault Systemes). After Jon Hirschtick explained how I am supporting SolidWorks? efforts with my blog, website and being an officer of a user group, Bernard Charlés was very thankful of my efforts.
When talking with Bernard Charlés, I identified that I support SolidWorks, because of Jon Hirschtick?s philosophies when he founded SolidWorks, which was to ?Do a better job? than the other CAD vendors, and ?Treat the customer with respect?. Bernard Charlés identified that Dassault Systemes shares the same philosophies.
We also spoke shortly of the relationship between Dassault Systemes (parent company) and SolidWorks Corporation where Bernard Charlés identified that Dassault Systemes is interested in seeing SolidWorks succeed. Bernard Charlés also identified that there will be more interconnectivity between SolidWorks and the remainder of Dassault Systemes ?LoveMark? brands such as Catia, Enovia, Delmia, Simulia and 3DVia.
It looks to me like SolidWorks is on very stable ground, with the strong backing of a large stable company of Dassault Systemes. This combination has grown immensely since 1997, and the next years, both companies should grow even stronger.
Many of you first heard about in February at SolidWorks World 2009. Some of you may haveread about it in an articleon my blog. Well, it is now official;Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp. (DS SolidWorks) has activated theSolidWorks Engineering Stimulus Package?program to give displaced employees a chance to learn valuable new career skills in 3D Modeling and creating documentation from those models.
Any US or Canadian resident is eligible for the SolidWorks Engineering Stimulus Package, which includes:
DS SolidWorks will also expand this program to other geographical regions in coming months.
|SolidWorks World 2009 Conference Proceedings|
The conference proceedings fromSolidWorks World 2009are now available on SolidWorks' website.
Included in these proceedings are:
It appears that all of the content (except for the technical presentation) are available to everyone. The Access to the Technical Presentations does require aCustomer Portalaccount. This allows SoldiWorks users to access this content, even if they could not attend SolidWorks World 2009.
The General Session videos are not 100% complete, but they do contain a lof of great content.
|SolidWorks community in action.|
Periodically, we run into an interesting story that helps you realize how small the world can actually be. I recently ran across this story at SolidWorks World 2009 in Orlando, Florida. I will start by setting up the?chance? meeting so you can understand how I heard about this story, first hand.
I met Matthew Cummins ofTacton Systems, a few years ago at a regional SolidWorks User Group Meeting in Racine Wisconsin.
Each user group meeting, regional conference or SolidWorks World I go to, I usually run into, one or both of these people either in the vendor pavilion or in the halls between sessions, but never at the same time. When we see each other, we always take the time to talk to each other to see how each of us are doing. The recent SolidWorks World 2009 in Orlando, Florida was just a bit different and provided the basis for this interesting story.
Prior to Sunday?s Welcome Reception, I was in the hall talking to Mike Baljak and we were catching up on what had been happening in the past year. During this discussion, I saw Matthew Cummins heading for the partner pavilion and asked him to join our discussion. After some short introductions, Matthew?s first comments were ?Yeah, he?s just the guy who, unwittingly, has had perhaps the single greatest impact on my present career path.? This needs further explaination!
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Here?s the story:
The first SolidWorks World that was attended by Matthew Cummins was in 2006 in Las Vegas. At that time Matthew was working for a retail design firm looking for ways to create assembly models and Bills of Materials (BOM?s) more efficiently. His company had a 300 page catalog of stock components, but no two assemblies were ever the same.
On the first day of the event, Matthew had the good fortune of meeting Gopal Shenoy, then Manager of Product Definition at SolidWorks. As they discussed assembly automation, Gopal asked if Matthew knew Mike Baljak from ATS and recommended that Matthew attend a break-out session that Mike was giving later that week. (Matthew still has the conference program with his talk circled)
Using SolidWorks Effectively in a Machine Design Environment, Mike Baljak, Automation Tooling Systems
Abstract: By examining a particular automation machine, this presentation reviews the design challenges faced by Automation Tooling Systems and the SolidWorks functionality used to overcome them. You will learn ways to design, manufacture, and integrate components faster, so you can save time and money while working under tight schedules.
Before attending Mike?s talk, Matthew thought he would learn about some pretty clever ways to speed up the design process with SolidWorks. Mike?s demonstrations that day turned Matthew?s whole SolidWorks world upside down. (Forgive the pun). It was the first time that Matthew had seen truly high level design automation in SolidWorks. Matthew remembered one example in particular. For certain machine components, instead of relying on a library of pre-built parts, an engineer could enter his or her component requirements into a custom form. Their automated system would then scan a database of vendor catalog information until it found a matching component. Seamlessly, it would read in the corresponding dimensional data, generating a new SolidWorks component on the fly, complete with vendor item number, description, etc. It all made perfect sense as Mike laid it out, but Matthew remembers being stunned nonetheless.
Matthew has spent the last few years studying and presenting on design automation techniques, now with TactonWorks.
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Matthew had to leave the discussion early to meet up with some customers during the Welcome Reception. I looked at mike and said?How cool is that?? I think Mike was speachless.
Every engineer wants to make a positive difference in someone else?s life, whether it be in the products we develop, or the information we exchange at meetings or conferences, or in the presentations we give at such conferences. We don?t always hear of these positive effects we have on other people, but we do believe they are happening. It always feels good to hear of such positive influences we have on other people.
Simply another example of the SolidWorks community in action.
|The best $500 I ever spent!|
I have mentioned this story to many people who said I should put it in my blog. With recent and continuing downturn in the economy, and after a recent announcement from SolidWorks Corporation, I believe this is a great time to share my story with others.
In 1990, I was laid off from work due to cut backs after the company was recently purchased by another company. During this time of unemployment (about 5 months) and searching for a new job, I noticed a trend in decreasing drawing board based drafting/design jobs, and an increase in 2D CAD drafting/design jobs. Up until this time, all of my drafting and design experience has been with pushing the pencil on a drafting board. With this trend, I was seeing fewer opportunities for returning to work. I knew I needed to get training and experience on a CAD system to change my situation and improve my. But how can I get the training when I am not working, and where?
For a few weeks, I had noticed an advertisement in the newspaper?Learn 2D CAD in a week?. I wondered,?How someone can learn a CAD system in just one week?? I took the time to check it out. The course was offered by a local Engineering Consulting firm, and the training program was based on a self paced training manual with an instructor that was available to answer any questions you may have, and help you get past stumbling blocks in learning 2D CAD. No lectures, it was all hands-on training. I felt this was a good place to start.
My wife objected to my spending the money to take this class. Her objection was based on the statement?We cannot afford to spend any money on something that does not provide an immediate benefit for us.? My response was simply?I cannot afford to pass up an opportunity that could get me back to work and advance my career?.
To back up my stand on the issue, I had?3 Aces? in my back pocket.
It was off to training I go! I sat down in front of the computer and started going thru the training manual. I actually completed everything in the training manual in only 3 days. Because I completed everything so quickly, the instructor took the manual away and gave me a few test drawings to complete, to see how much I learned from the course. The drawings only took me a few hours to complete. After taking the training, I hung around to see what else I could learn and experience, and help the instructor out a bit.
Shortly after I took the training class, the instructor decided to leave the engineering firm for?bigger and better? things. The instructor then recommended me to be the new instructor for the CAD training classes. Here I was, I just learned how to use 2D CAD, and now I am helping others learn how to use 2D CAD. I definitely had to add this one to my resume and redistribute it to potential employers. For a few months, I carried on with providing a training environment so other individuals can learn how to use 2D CAD.
My resume was sent from an engineering contracting form and sent to a local manufacturing firm, who was looking for someone who was experienced in 2D CAD. The Engineering Manager was impressed to see that I was teaching other people how to use 2D CAD, shortly after I myself just learned how to use 2D CAD. I was called in for an interview and I was offered a job the contracting agency. This came at a good time because the consulting firm was phasing out the 2D CAD training. The 6 month contract job lasted for 9 months before the budget ran out. At this point, the Engineering Manager at the manufacturing firm already contacted the contracting agency, who lined up another contracting job for me. This was done so I would not have to experience any period of unemployment.
In 1992, after working 5 months on the second contracting job, I received a call from the first manufacturing firm. I was asked to come in for an interview with the Senior Engineer so he could get re-acquainted with who I was. I was then offered a full-time direct-hire job with the manufacturing firm. I notified the contracting agency and the Engineering Manager at the second contracting job, that I intended on leaving for the direct-hire job. The next day, I received a second offer for a full-time direct-hire position with the second contracting job. Here I was, about 1.5 years after learning 2D CAD, I had 2 direct-hire job offers.
Of course, I accepted one of the offers and have been employed with that company since. In 1998, the company implemented SolidWorks and 3D modeling as it?s primary design and engineering tool. While at this new position, I kept learning more about 2D CAD, other engineering applications, and I soon became the?go to? guy for questions that came up dealing with 2D CAD or 3D Modeling. This eventually led to me becoming the CAD Administrator and the PDM Administrator for the engineering department.
Because of the training I went for in 1990, and the continuous period of employment (17+ years) since then, I say that the money I spent for the 2D CAD training is?The best $500 I ever spent!?
How this may help you?
With recent and continuing downturn in the economy, I want my readers to realize that stories like mine do exist and they are real. Here a few lessons from this story.
Here is an?Ace? in your back pocket!
At the recent SolidWorks World 2009 in Orlando Florida,SolidWorks Corporationand it?s Value Added Resellers (VAR?s) announced a new program to help engineers learn 3D Modeling skills called ?Engineering Stimulus Package?. Quite simply, for displaced engineers, SolidWorks Corporation will provide a version of the SolidWorks software, and training that needed to enable engineers to achieve theirCertified SolidWorks Associate (CSWA)certification. This program will be publically announced by SolidWorks Corporation and it?s VAR?s in the very near future.
|Get ready for (and survive) SolidWorks World 2009?|
SolidWorks World 2009 User Conference and Exposition will be the largest 3D CAD event in the world. There are a lot of things going on before and after the conference. You can expect to learn a lot of great SolidWorks Tip& Tricks, learn new applications that work with SolidWorks, meet a lot of people, enjoy receptions and parties, and do a lot of walking. That is a lot to do in a 4 day conference, and it?s easy to become overwhelmed. Here are a few tips to help you prepare for, and survive, SolidWorks World 2009.
Wear comfortable shoes. The Disney Swan and Dolphin Hotel is a huge facility, this means you will be doing a lot of walking during this conference. Wear the most comfortable shoes you have. There will also be a lot of people there which means the walking will be slow going. There is no specific dress code for this event, but consider?Smart Casual? attire as appropriate.
Be ready for information overloadfrom the content of the great technical presentations to the demonstrations in the vendor pavilion and the size and energy of what is SolidWorks World. You will be overloaded with information. See my next tip.
Be smart when taking notes. If you are registered for the full conference, and you should be, you will be able to download most of the technical presentations, a month or two after the conference. Because of this, you don?t need to take notes on everything that appears in the presentation slides. I carry a small notebook, and hopefully extra pens, that are easily accessible so I don?t have to dig into my backpack.
Arrive early for the presentations because they tend to fill up fast. If the room is already full, you may not be able to get in even if you signed up for it. Pick alternate presentations ahead of time in case this happens.
Attend technical presentations that can benefit you now and in the future. Pick technical sessions with the following in mind:
Talk with other users at the?Birds of a Feather? lunches.This is a great way to meet others from your region, technical expertise, or SolidWorks interests. This networking may lead to learning better ways get things done in SolidWorks, or lead you to additional resources that can help you in your job.
SolidWorks World is also a great place to meet usersyou talk with online, whether it is in the newsgroups, forums, or other emails. If you want to meet with someone specific, make arrangements for meetings before you go to the conference. At the conference, they will be as busy as you are, and they may be harder to find. If they are giving a presentation, catch them at their presentation after they are done.
Meet with, and talk to, SolidWorks personnel. SolidWorks wants to know that issues you, the users, are facing. SolidWorks uses this information for developing product features and improvements. If someone from SolidWorks approaches you to do a?User Survey? or participate in a ?Usability Study?, please consider spending some time to do so. Please read my blog on?How do you use SolidWorks? for more information.
Get involved by participating in SolidWorks surveys. These surveys are typically on computers in the Vendor Pavilion. SolidWorks Corporation uses the information from these surveys to improve the SolidWorks software, the SolidWorks Community, and SolidWorks Corporation. You may even get a free gift for participating.
If you are a CSWP, attend the CSWP party on Monday night! There are some great activities lined up for this party.
Have fun at the off-site party on Tuesday night!This is a great place to unwind, meet up with some friends and have a good time.
If you are planning a vacation in conjunction with SolidWorks World,do it the weekend before the conference so you can enjoy the vacation, and relax (somewhat) during the conference. The SolidWorks World website has many links to attractions you can see while you are in the Orlando area. FYI: The Space Shuttle Discovery is scheduled to be launched at 7:30 a.m. ET on Thursday February 10.
Good Luck, have fun, and I hope to see you there! It's going to be a great time for everyone!
|How do you use SolidWorks? SolidWorks wants to know.|
SolidWorks Corporation is continually looking at ways that they can improve the SolidWorks software, accompanying software, and your experience with using their software. There are a variety of methods that SolidWorks uses to get this information from you, the user.
SolidWorks is very serious about understanding the needs of their customers and providing functionality that makes their job easier. To that end, SolidWorks personnel complete dozens of customer visits each year. The support for this program goes all the way to the top of the company. Jeff Ray, CEO, has also participated in some of these customer visits.
A Recent Customer Visit
As a CAD Administrator and PDM Administrator, I took some time to show Sal some of the issues I have faced as an experienced SolidWorks user, how I provide tips and tricks to other users, macros I have created to simplify tasks, and experiences and suggestions I have after a recent integration of PDMWorks Enterprise (now Enterprise PDM).
Near the end of this visit, I noticed that Sal had quite a lot of data to bring back to SolidWorks. I also know that I, and fellow employees, have learned some good tips on using SolidWorks. This visit has already had immediate benefit for SolidWorks and our company. Once SolidWorks has reviewed this data, along with data from many more companies, the benefits will continue in current and future development of SolidWorks and its accompanying software.
You Can Participate!
Each of these situations provides you the opportunity to provide feedback to SolidWorks that could have an impact in current and future product development at SolidWorks Corporation.