SWW12 Attendee -> Press -> Presenter -> Employee

The first SolidWorks World that I attended was 2008 in San Diego, as an attendee.  My schedule was full of breakout and hands-on sessions, from which I learned a lot.  I also remember attending focus groups, the beautiful San Diego days, seeing lots of cool stuff at the Partner Pavilion, fun at special event in the Gaslamp District, the free iPod (still using from time to time), General Sessions, and meeting a lot of new friends.

For SolidWorks World 2009, something strange happened.  When you are a regular blogger of SolidWorks and CAD related topics, there’s a chance you’ll be invited to come to SolidWorks World as Press.  You don’t get “press credentials” or anything.  You simply get a badge that says “Press” and the right to go just about anywhere at any time in the conference.  This happened to me.

Being Press at the conference was somewhat surreal in 2009, 2010, and 2011.  The experience is completely different.  I never had time to attend more than a couple of breakout and hands-on sessions.  Instead, my time was spent at news conferences, interviewing important SolidWorks employees, quickly meeting special keynote speakers (Gene Kranz [smart guy], James Cameron [loved the campy Dark Angel show], Dr. Mike North [so sad his show got cancelled]), actually blogging, visiting historical locations, press events and other socializing.

At SolidWorks World 2011, I did double duty as a presenter.  Presenting a breakout session isn’t as hard as it might seem.  Being a great presenter isn’t the expectation that most people have of you.  Knowing your material is most important.  Being a presenter also gives you a new and unique experience at the conference, though arguably attending as Press is the most unique of all for people who are not employed by SolidWorks.

Well, this last year, something else strange happened.  I was hired as a SolidWorks employee and started my job in June.  Not only that, but my position has a significant number of responsibilities at SolidWorld World.  So, this year, I’ll be attending SolidWorks World 2012 as a working employee of SolidWorks.  Yet again, this will afford me the opportunity to see SolidWorks World from a completely different perspective.  To complete the circle, the conference is again in San Diego.

I’ve gone from presenting one breakout session to now presenting 3 sessions (1 breakout, 2 hands-on).  As if I wasn’t social before, I’ve got to be even more so now, talking to as many customers as possible, I’ll be running two focus groups, conducting product tests, and other behind the scenes tasks.

Unlike Mike Puckett, who has had a similar experience with changing rolls at SolidWorks World, I will not be presenting on the main stage during the General Session.  However, I will have a chance to see the response to my changes to SolidWorks by attendees during the What’s New for 2013 presentation.

If you are attending SolidWorks World 2012, try to find me.  My cell is 40…hmmm, yeah, just try to find me instead.  I’ll be looking for you to talk to! 🙂

SolidWorks World Presentation Ownership Poll (Link)

Matt Lombard has a POLL about access to the presentations at SolidWorks World 2008.  Right now, all the presentation materials are behind a login.  Theoretically only attendees of SWW8 have access to it.  Do you agree with this?  Once the poll is closed, I’ll state my opinion here.

Silicon Valley SWUG Meeting: Caught Off-Guard

Wade Barnett held the first-quarter Silicon Valley SolidWorks User Group (SVSWUG) meeting in Campbell, CA on March 18th (a few days ago).  Other than my carpoolin’ co-worker, I had not told anyone other than Kenneth Barrentine that I was attending the SVSWUG meeting.  I was just expecting to anonymously attend to see what Wade was going to do for his SWW8 related presentation (SolidWorks World 2008).

As Wade announces the start of the meeting, I hear my name.  It was Wade seeing if I was in attendance.  I respond with, “one minute,” as I was finishing up some business.  He calls my name again.  “I’m here.” 

He precedes to invite me talk about SWW8 for the meeting.

Background on this is that I did make a presentation about SWW8 that I was planning to give the next day at the Tri-Valley SolidWorks User Group in Pleasanton, CA.  However, I did not expect to speak at the SVSWUG meeting about it; so I didn’t bring my laptop (and therefore my notes/presentation). 

However, I’m a trooper.  I quickly agree to speak.  I was caught a bit off-guard, though.  I joined Wade at the front.  Wade and I talked with the attendees about SWW8.  I was trying my best to pull my presentation highlights from memory.  It worked out OK as we volleyed through talking points.  Several times I wish I had my material with me.  It can be hard to help someone visualize what you are talking about without photos.  I hope we did help people get some sense of the scope and importance of SWW8.  Maybe more people from our area will attend next year.  Out of the 50 or so SVSWUG meeting attendees, I believe like seven where at this year’s SolidWorks World.

For the rest of the meeting, Wade conducted an open forum with the discussion of simple tips and tricks to help solve certain problems and speed up/shortcut certain functions of SolidWorks.  He had SolidWorks running to show live examples.  It always impresses me the value that of even simple tips and tricks sessions have for many people.  He covered many points, from how to make slots quickly to how to record and use simple macros.  The open forum meant that even when Wade didn’t have an answer immediately, others were able to chime in on questions that where brought up. 

In my opinion, the open forum approach to presentations can be useful.  It is most useful to newer users or users that don’t get a chance to explore SolidWorks in depth.  However, I think it does have its place.  At times, open forum presentations can get bogged down with questions or tasks that have too large of a scope for the brief time available.  I believe Wade was able to balance these issues pretty well in his session.  He knew when to delve into a topic, and when to save a topic for another time.  Even still, I think this format should be used sparingly.  Of course, regardless of presentation format, audience participation is always welcome.

SolidWorks World 2008 Day 3 (Jan 23) Breakout sessions

My first breakout session of the day was SolidWorks Sheet metal: Why do I do it like this or that?.  This session went into a lot of detail about sheet metal functions in SolidWorks.  There was discussion covering tears, closed corners, dimensioning preferences, K-factors, when to use normal cut, and the fact that all thicknesses on a sheet metal part need to be identical.  One good point was that closed corners work only when the flanges have the same parent feature.  Like all good sheet metal presentations, miter flanges where also discussed.  One problem I had with the presentation is that way too much time was spent on discussing creation of flat patterns.  When several attendees confronted the presenter with the fact that flat patterns are not often necessary for a designer to create, he argued the point without really understanding why the attendees contested it.  According to ASME Y14.5M-1994, the drawing represents the final product.  Adding intermediate steps (such as flat patterns) are unnecessary since the vendor is responsible for the final product represented on the drawing.  Besides that, most sheet metal shops are much better at determining K-factors and knowing their shop’s limitations than most designers.  I think more information could be packed into the presentation if less time is spent on flat patterning.

After lunch, I attended Leveraging the Design Tables and Configurations….  Many points where covered.  Here’s a few.  It is important to establish a good naming convention for configurations.  Effort must be taken to determine how the model will be represented (drawing, BOM, literature, etc).  Utilize folders in the Model Assembly.  Utilize formulae in the Design Table instead of equations area.  One good point was the suggestion to save backup copies of design tables outside of SolidWorks in Excel itself.

My final Breakout session of SolidWorks World 2008 was Demystifying PDMWorks Workgroup Triggers.  Although I’m not familiar with PDMWorks API, I did learn something about what is possible in PDMWorks.  Also, I learned about the setup required to utilize the triggers. 

I didn’t take many basic how-to Breakout sessions this year.  My main focus was on developing my skills in configuration, customization, more detailed how-to’s, and set up.  I made sure I attended several API related sessions.  Overall, I feel the experience was something that I would not want to miss.  I’m glad I had the opportunity be involved in this experience. 

SolidWorks World 2008 Day 3 (Jan 23) General Session

Several presentations stand out in my mind from the Wednesday General Session.  This was the session that really got down to the business of talking about the SolidWorks community and the future of the SolidWorks software.

Richard Doyle introduced the SWUGN regional leaders to the General Session.  I’m guessing this is the first time many people even heard of this group. This is an important group that is responsible for increasing the number of SolidWorks User Groups nationwide; and worldwide too.

SWUGN Leadership

Another memorable presentation was Engineers in Crisis comedy skit used to introduce us to many of the new functions and improvements that will appear in SolidWorks 2009.  The skit consisted of a supposed talk show host addressing many frustrations that CAD users (unnamedly SolidWorks users) experienced when using their CAD software.  The frustration was collectively referred to as PAS (Performance Addiction Syndrome).

Engineering in Crisis

Who isn’t addicted to something that performs well?  They showed short videos of some engineers who were going mad because of issues they were having with an unnamed CAD program.  To help, three “doctors” presented the videos and then explained the solution offered in SolidWorks 2009.  This one particular engineer in one of the stories was vexed by “too many steps.”  This was prolly the funniest of the bunch.  I remember when they showed him getting out of his co-worker’s car.  His co-worker double beeped his remote to lock his car.  The engineer (Bill, I think) preceded to yell something like, “You only need to beep it once!  Doing it twice is too many steps!  Ughh!!!”  The interviews with his boss and co-workers were icing on the cake.


Anyway, the point was that SolidWorks 2009 would be adding functionality and simplifying some tasks.  Just to name a few:

  • Big news is that SolidWorks 2009 will accept negative dimensions when adding dimension values to objects within a sketch!
  • Handling of large assemblies has improved substantially.
  • Features created at the assembly level will be transferred to the part.
  • BOM tables can now be directly added to the Model Assembly.
  • Slot tool has finally been added.  (In fact, I recently participated in a questionnaire regarding how this feature will be dimensioned on the drawing.)
  • In sketch mode, dimensioning for sizes of objects will automatically pop up and ask to be populated when the object is created.
  • Routing now supports flat cables, and so on.

This skit was immediately followed by a demonstration of the speed differences we can expect from SolidWorks 2009.  They had a side by side comparison between SolidWorks 2008 and 2009.  It does appear that performance will indeed be massively improved.  This is of course based on the presentation.  I will reserve my final judgment for when I get a chance to use 2009 for myself.

SolidWorks World 2008 Day 2 (Jan 22) Block Party!

Go-Go Dancer at the Concert

After three whole days of almost nonstop geekdom business, it was time to let loose, all on SolidWorks Corporation’s tab.  This was the SolidWorks World 2008 Block Party!  For this event, a few blocks of the Gaslamp Quarter was shut down just for the attendees of the conference.  Most of the bars and restaurants served free tap beer all night.  There was plenty of pretty finger food that was OK.  The live band was a nice touch, but didn’t really do it for me; too many not-so-good covers of 70’s rock classics that I don’t much care about anyway.  Then there was the two lone Go-Go dancers that were kind enough to spend as much time taking pictures with all the guys as they did dancing.  They musta been good sports about the whole thing.  

Chris MacCormick and I meet up at this one place with a small out-door patio.  He then took me around to meet everyone, including fellow bloggers, reps, and SolidWorks Partners.  This was my first time at SWW8.  Here’s a snippet of a slide-show.  I’m sure some will recognize themselves! 🙂

The night did end a little early at 10pm.  I guess that is to be expected for an hosted event on public streets.  As far as I can tell, we all had a blast.