SWW09: Monday, final thoughts

The experience of coming to SolidWorks World 2009 as a member of the press is certainly unique to me.  Beyond access to the Press Room, the pass pretty much allows me any opportunities while here.  The way I look at it is this, my experiences are meant to be shared with everyone.  That is to say, they are your experiences, not mine.  When I first accepted the offer to join the Press Pool at SWW09, my focus was writing for those individuals who were not able to come to this grand event.  However, I now realize that I’m also writing for everyone, including attendees (and even fellow bloggers).  My experience is really unique.  It is something that even other attendees may not even image.  How many regular Joes can say they were in a press conference with the likes of Sir Richard Branson, or joined others to sit down with Jon Hirschtick for a quick lesson in the Blackjack, or went to a Press Event, or attended the CSWP Event, or watched Richard Doyle be honored by his peers and Jeff Ray himself, or sat down with vendors for sneakpeaks of products still in development?  And this with in a 36 hour period?  So, I am here for everyone else, to expound upon my unique experience, to give a more complete picture about SWW09.  This gift granted to me from SolidWorks Corp is really a gift granted to all SolidWorks users.

Day 3 of SolidWorks World 2009 starts now.

SWW09: Monday General Session (Part 3: Sir Richard Branson)

Sir Richard Branson is an amazing man.  I don’t think I’ve ever said those words about anyone before.  He has started over 360 companies that shook up industries that vary from Limo services to Airliners.  As far as personal achievement, he has had wondrous adventures to break (or at least attempt to break) world records in travel.  He self-denigratingly jokes when he claims to hold the world record for being the person who has been rescued at sea the most number of times (poking some fun at his failed attempts, but still proud of having the adventure he did).

Sir Richard Branson

Unlike past keynote speakers at SolidWorks World. Richard Branson opted for an interview style presentation, where the CEO of SolidWorks, Jeff Ray, sat down on stage with him in a friendly and informative exchange.  The many topics covered included his first business, childhood business ventures that never quite made it, the start of Virgin Records and of Virgin Atlantic Airways.  Branson made it clear that successful companies are constantly innovating, and that they “listen, listen, listen” to their customers wants.  Branson’s green heart comes through when he discussed trying to make this world a better place, stating that we “need to ween ourselves off dirty fuels.”

Earlier, Jeff Ray talked about examples of products designed using SolidWorks that are improving our world.  One of these struck home for Branson.  He seemed to passionately embrace Design that Matters efforts to provide incubators to poor countries.  This passion spilled over into off stage discussions.  Jeff Ray noted that much of the post interview conversation he had with Branson was about getting those incubators to where they are needed.  As Ray put it, “he is the real deal.”

There’s a lot more about this conference, such as in the article SWW09: Monday General Session (Part 2: products to make the world a better place)

SWW09: Monday General Session (Part 2: products to make the world a better place)

Though Monday’s General Session only had two speakers, the content was jam packed.  Jeff Ray gave several examples of SolidWorks being used to design new products that have the potential to improve our world.

The first invention mentioned was a wind turbine by MicroWind Technologies, LLC.  This innovative technology is meant to be installed right at the home or business.  Each turbine produces 3Kw of power derived from the wind.

He followed up that environmentally friendly device with one that has already saved hundreds of lives.  It is a device that is able to recover 100% of the tissue from a donor’s bones.  With current technologies, the process of cleaning bone tissue producers a high percentage of damaged material that cannot be used.  Regenerative Tech’s new machine allows a much higher recover rate.  It even enables the used of the chips and dusk from the grinding process to be used a binding for the core material when implanted into the patient.  This means that the material from one organ donor can be used to save or improve the lives of over a 100 individuals.

From this Ray described how a cable TV salesperson realized that small villages do not have safe drinking water.  This salesperson, named Hank, discovered a technology that bombards water with UV light in order to sterilize it.  His company, Trojan UV Tech, is preparing to install a 56 unit site in New York to produce 2.2 billion gallons of water per day.

At this point, most in the audience was feeling pretty good about being associated with these inventions through the software used to design them.  However, Ray bested even these examples.  He described Design That Matters innovation.  The amazing non-profit organization that developed a method to make infant incubators from salvage car parts that can be maintenance by someone with car mechanic skill set.  This is most valuable in the 3rd World countries where modern incubators may have been donated but have since fell into disrepair due to the lack of qualified individuals to maintain them, and parts to keep them working.  If enough of these incubators are made, there the potential to save millions of infants each year!

This one innovation hit close to home for the Keynote speaker, Sir Richard Branson.  More on that later.

SWW09 Monday General Session (Part 1)

The General Session hall filled up quickly.  As I mentioned, excitement was in the air.  Over 4300 people filed in quickly to take their seats.  This was well over this year’s goal (something like 3500 {unofficially}).  The music started and then we were greeted by Jeff Ray’s enthusiastic and confident entrance on to the big stage.  He presented us with a report card about how well SolidWorks is doing.  Despite his cheerful presentation about the progress SolidWorks Corp has made over the past year, he gave the company suprizingly low markets on their progress.  Of course, there are likely some people that felt he was being too generous.


He stated that customer satisfaction is now 91%, with very satisfied now at 43%.  Customer Portal had 1.2M visits last year with 10M hits.  SolidWorks now supports 16 languages, up from 12 last year.

Ray then revealed that according to customer feedback, SolidWorks is running 65% faster on large assemblies and drawings, giving 8x the time savings with new tools such as Speedpak.

Customer interface has been a focal point of improvement, along with giving a more consist user experience by providing wide screen and multiple monitor support.  He announced that 50% of users now spend 70% of their job time within SolidWorks. 

Ray gave a shout out of sorts to the SolidWorks blogging community and even discussed Twitter’s role in the SolidWorks general online community; even to the point of announcing the SolidWorks World 2009 twitter hash #SWW09! (More about this later.)

He stated that the areas where Solidworks needs to improve are installations, upgrades and managing SolidWorks design data.  The phrasology he used was that they needed to “obliterate” each of these.  I think he meant that they will work on obliterating issues with these.  For example, they want to make it easier to access the design data so that users can focus on why they have SolidWorks (designing) instead of hunting for files.

He then showed appreciation for all attendees, noting that some are here dispite the fact that they are recently out of work or had expense cutbacks at their company.

SWW09: Morning rush

The morning rush was on, and excitement was in the air.  The crowds gathered outside of the hall.


As the anticipation builds, an alarm sounds to announce the opening of the hall. I had to join the stampede. The question on many people’s minds is if Sir Richard Branson would be speaking today.  Of course, some of the insiders knew that Sir Branson flew in last night.

SolidWorks World 2009 here I come

It’s one day before my trip to Florida begins.  Actually, it’s almost exactly 24 hours, as my flight takes off around 6:00am or so tomorrow.  Am I excited?  A bit.  Am I worried?  A bit.  Why?  Well, as soon as I’m off the plane, I have my first schedule event (for which I will be an hour late since getting from the MCO to the Swan and Dolphin is no skip across the pond).  Then right after that event comes another that will likely stretch my day out well into jet-lag zone; then I hafta get up early on Sunday because that is when convention really begins!  Maybe I’ll get some sleep Sunday night?