SolidWorks is easy to learn

Based on my recent unscientific research, SolidWorks seems like it is an easy application to learn.  In one poll, I asked for preference of educational choices for new employees not familiar with SolidWorks.  A second poll asked how current users actually learned SolidWorks.  The results are a little surprizing.

Of the respondents to the first poll, just slightly over 50% said they would teach SolidWorks to new employees on the job by mentoring them.  Just under 50% said they would send their employee to VAR classes.

In the second poll, the overwhelming majority stated that they are self-taught in the use of SolidWorks.  Some questions comes to mind.  If SolidWorks is so easy to learn, do the VAR classes serve any purpose?  Or, is it that the VAR classes are so ineffective that one is forced to learn on their own?

My own experience in sending new employees to VAR taught introductory SolidWorks classes have yielded mixed results.  They do not seem effective in many cases.  In fact, the VAR classes actually seem to be turning off some individuals to the use of SolidWorks.  It may be that there is just too much information crammed into the short 3 to 5 day courses.

SolidWorks is easy enough to learn without classes.  Classes should simply be used to provide a head start.  Instead, in some cases they seem to have the opposite effect.  Maybe the classes need to be broken down a bit.  Perhaps the introductory class can take a slower pace and focus on core skills over the 3 days.  Then, more complex skills can be taught in an intermediate class over another 3 days.  (The current advanced classes offered by VARs would likely remain the same.)

Author: fcsuper

As a drafter, mechanical designer and CAD engineer, I've been in the mechanical design field since 1991. For the first 8 years of my career, I was an AutoCAD professional. I utilized AutoLISP and many other AutoCAD customization features to streamline drafting activities for 6+ drafters and designers. I authored several custom functions, one of which was published in the March 1997 issue of Cadalyst Magazine. Since 1998, I've been used SolidWorks non-stop. I've worked to utilize the SolidWorks' user environment to simplify drafting and design activities for 20+ engineers. I've created this website to provide current information about SolidWorks from a variety of contributors. More recently, I am now employed by Dassault Systemes as SOLIDWORKS Sr. Product Definition Manager to improve drawing, annotation and MBD related areas.

6 thoughts on “SolidWorks is easy to learn”

  1. Good article. People learn differently. Some can learn from a VAR and some can’t. I think VAR training is good to give you a jump start, but will not train you in the finer details. That type of teaching can teach bits of the interface and bits of the process, but can’t show anything with a wide range of options. I use the analogy of reading the names on the DC Vietnam Memorial at night with a pen light – at best you gets parts of some names, but you can’t see the whole thing, and you can’t even see a single whole name.

  2. As a former AE and trainer for a VAR, I can see both the good and the bad behind classroom based training.
    Companies are looking for and expect that their employees are/will be proficient with SolidWorks. The standard VAR classroom-based training is designed to give everyone a foundation to build on. No one can learn SolidWorks and be 100% proficient in only 3-5 days. This process can take several weeks to several months. Becoming VERY proficient at SolidWorks is an ongoing process and is built using a combination of self teaching, learning from peers, and possibly classroom-based training.

    While there are people who are only self-taught on SolidWorks and are VERY PROFICIENT. There are a HUGE number of people who supposed ‘know’ SolidWorks and have very bad modeling practices.

    There is no one steadfast rule for learning/becoming proficient. It’s up to the CAD administrator working with the VAR to develop a comprehensive training plan with periodic skills assessments..

  3. I would agree with Matt and Brian’s comments and would like to add – as a person who teaches Autodesk’s MCAD products commercially and in two institutions – that in the main there is an attempt to teach too much. Approaches made to me for assistance from fellows learning at other organizations typically uncovers the fact that the basic have been covered very quickly, or as simple comments. I have had good success in both areas, of teaching, by simply ensuring the courses have as much time as possible devoted to basic functionality both by way of explanation and practice.
    Once this is done the foundations can be added to at either latter courses or in the workplace.
    And don’t forget to address the ‘attitude’ each student brings – this can be both very helpful or a considerable stumbling block and, I have not meet another instructor yet – when asked – who makes any real effort in this area.

  4. I think these are all very good comments that really get to the heart of issue. This is definately worth of further discussion. Attitude of the individual does play a role in the effectiveness of the training. I think the fast pacing of the classes is another factor. IMO, the introductory courses should cover the basics such as sketching and extruding, hole wizard, viewing options, annotations, assembly functions, exporting, etc. I think that topics such as BOM’s and design tables should actually be their own courses.

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