SolidWorks World 2015 – A Look Back

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Oh yeah!  SolidWorks World in Phoenix, Arizona!

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So many things to look forward to . . . First and foremost, the warm Phoenix weather (Nebraska is not exactly “balmy” in February), my brother and his wife live in Chandler, so we would get to hang out with them one of the nights, and they announced that Michio Kaku was going to be one of the keynote speakers! (Jade and I are really big fans.)  When we were booking our flights, we found a direct flight to Phoenix – that’s right, NO LAYOVERS!  This also meant that our little travel game of “Betcha they’re going” would be a little more difficult.  (This game involves sitting in the airport, watching people, and trying to guess if they are going to SolidWorks World.)  The funniest part was that we ran into two guys right after we got out of the car, we didn’t even make it into the terminal!

There may have been something else that had me so excited . . . Oh yeah, In 2014 I was appointed to be the Southern US Representative for the SolidWorks User Group Network! I would be attending as a SWUGN Committee Member!  This called for cool new keys –

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Let’s get this party started, on to SolidWorks World 2015!

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Monday’s General Session started out with an announcement that Bertrand Sicot would be stepping down as CEO to take a new position with Dassault Systemes.  It was announced that Gian Paolo Bassi would be the new CEO. (I really like GP, he became a member of the #baconbrotherhood at SWW15, and you could tell that he was having a lot of fun at the conference!)  Chris Goodine was on hand to demonstrate Thalmic Myo – an armband that allows you to control devices, apps, even SolidWorks!  Former CEO of MakerBot, Bre Pettis was on hand to talk about the next industrial revolution – “Inspiring” seems like such a small word for his presentation, it was absolutely unreal.

Tuesday is always one of my favorite days, mainly because it is when Richard gets some stage time to talk about the User Group community.  One of the coolest things about having been to SolidWorks World so many times is that you start to know many of the people and become really good friends with them.  (SWW15 was my NINTH time at the conference!)  This means that I knew the people that were winning the User Group awards – Group of the Year: San Antonio (I presented at one of their meetings), Group Leader of the Year: Denny Bahl & Don Glaske (I have worked the SWUGN booth with Denny several times), Michelle Pillars Community Award: Jeff Mirisola (I sat next to Jeff at a DriveWorks Training/Certification Event) – All of my friends won!

Marie Planchard discussed Women in Engineering, and brought Bettina Chen on stage to talk about Roominate, her engineering tool that is designed to get more girls into engineering.  Marie announced that there are now over 2 MILLION licenses of SolidWorks Education installed around the world.

This was all leading up to what I had been anxiously waiting for since they announced the keynote speakers . . . MICHIO KAKU!!

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o.k. I’m a bit of a fan . . . but it was AMAZING!

Michio talked about inventing and inventions, and then moved on to his vision for the future.  One of the really cool products that he talked about was a smart contact lens that would be a lot like Google glass, but it would be directly on your eye.  He also talked about a “Robodoc” that would be similar to a mirror on your wall, it would be a part of your house, and it would be able to give instant diagnosis regarding your health, and offer suggestions for changes to improve your well being.  It seemed to go so fast, it was over before I knew it – I probably could have listened to him talk for at least another day or two.

Wednesday kicked off with GP talking about the offsite party the night before, and shared his vision of what the future holds for SolidWorks.  Jinsop Lee from Linno talked about “scoring” your designs based on how they effect your five senses – this opened a lot of eyes of people that are used to “design for manufacturing” and cost effectiveness.  There was an incredible story about Seffi Udi – he became a quadriplegic after a horrible car accident, and he began inventing devices that would allow him to continue working.  He created a 3 button mouse that he could hold in his mouth … and run SolidWorks … which he used to design his house to be fully wheelchair accessible, AND a device that would allow him to turn the pages on his kindle with a simple breath.  Seffi was in the front row, and he received the longest standing ovation from from 5500 misty-eyed people that I have ever seen . . . breathtaking and motivating at the same time.

Mechanical Conceptual was renamed Conceptual Design, the top 10 enhancements were met with cheers and sighs of relief, Model Mania was a tough one this year, there was a skit to show off some of the cool new stuff in SolidWorks 2016, and Gian Paolo announced that we would be headed to Dallas next year.

Let the countdown begin . . .

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SolidWorks World 2014 – A Look Back

We were really excited about SolidWorks World being in San Diego again – it would be our THIRD time visiting this beautiful city.  Not only was I looking forward to seeing the other User Group Leaders again, I was anxious to meet up with the “Bacon Brotherhood” . . .

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John Matrishon and Ed Gebo started a fun group with a common interest in . . . BACON! They made ribbons for SWW14 – Once you had a ribbon on your badge, you were a part of the “Brotherhood.”  What did it take to get a ribbon you ask?  Simple, just post a picture of yourself on twitter with the hashtag #BaconBrotherhood – Oh yeah, the important part, you had to be enjoying some bacon in the picture.  Then it was just a matter of tracking down John or Ed to get your ribbon.  The “hardcore” ones usually have theirs before the conference even starts.

On to SolidWorks World 2014 . . .

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The Monday morning General Session got off to an incredible start when Jonathan Tippet from eatART “drove” out on stage with his “Spider Walker” –

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(This was not taken on Monday morning, but it’s such a great picture, that I had to use it!)

Hugh Herr was one of the keynote speakers, and his presentation is still one of my all-time favorites – It was so inspiring that I still get goosebumps just thinking about it!  Hugh is a world class rock climber (actually considered to be one of the best climbers in the US when he was only 17!)  During the descent from an ice climb, he was caught in a blizzard and spent 3 nights in temperatures of -20 F.  Severe frostbite led to having his legs amputated below the knees.  Not wanting to give up the sport that he loves, Hugh designed prosthetic legs that would allow him to climb again.  In addition to re-inventing the way that he climbs, Hugh became very focused on his own education.  He earned a Bachelors degree in Physics, a Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering at MIT, and a Doctorate in Biophysics from Harvard.  His work with prosthetic limbs is phenomenal to say the least.

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There was a presentation for a new program named HomeByMe that allows customizing and visualizing home interiors and furnishings.  Mechanical Conceptual was shown, and they spoke with some of the customers that were on the test panel.  One of them was perennial SolidWorks World presenter Phil Sluder, and another one of them was Mike Buchli (I was fortunate enough to work with Mike when I was with the VAR, even though he was in a different office, I still managed to learn A LOT from him.)

The guys from eatART discussed their Spider Walker, their art displays, and some of the new projects that they had “in the works.”  Jonathan Tippet described how they used SolidWorks to design some tooling to convert their plasma cutter into a tubing cutter to make all of the complex cuts on the tubing that is the framework of the spider.

Another great presentation was the guys from the Bo-Dyn Bobsled team.  Geoff Bodine, who is very well known in the Nascar world, has been involved with the US Bobsled team, and helping them design faster bobsleds.  It must be working, because they took a gold medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Sochi in their 4-man bobsled that was dubbed “Night Train.”  For me, one of the coolest parts of about the Olympic Bobsled team, is that one of the team members is Curt Tomasevicz – Former Nebraska Husker Football player and Academic All-American that earned his Bachelors and Masters degrees in Electrical Engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  GO BIG RED!!  They brought a video of them taking Bertrand Sicot from SolidWorks for a run in the bobsled – it looked fun!

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There is a new 3D Printer that does something just a little bit different than all of the other ones that are currently available . . . The MarkForg3D Printer actually embeds carbon fiber as it is printing to make super strong parts that can be bolted in place and tested!  They showed video of a formula one car that was racing with printed parts . . . just wow!

I was extremely busy at work leading up to SolidWorks World, so I ended up “re-using” my key design from SWW11, and re-tagged it for SWW14 –

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To see everything that happened during the General Sessions, find a comfy chair and watch these videos:

General Session – Day 1

General Session – Day 2

General Session – Day 3

It was announced that SolidWorks World 2015 would be in Phoenix!

(I was really excited about this, because I had been suggesting Phoenix for a number of years.  Word of advice – Fill out the post conference surveys!)

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SolidWorks World 2013 – A Look Back

After getting home from SolidWorks World 2012, I really wanted to dig into the new Costing tool within SolidWorks.  I dove in headfirst, and the more that I worked with it, the more I realized that this tool had a lot of potential.  I became so enamored with Costing that I decided to submit a presentation for SolidWorks World 2013 in Orlando.

It was accepted!  I was finally going to be able to say that I have presented at World!

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I spent a considerable amount of time researching/testing/writing/re-writing/practicing my presentation.  I used to work for a VAR, so presenting wasn’t a big deal (it used to be a majority of my job), but I wanted everything to be as “dialed-in” as possible.

One of the people that was a huge inspiration for my presentation passed away in September of 2012 after a long fight with cancer.  Wayne Tiffany was always one of the first people that I would see when I arrived at SolidWorks World.  He was one of my favorite presenters, and his Sheet Metal presentation is one of the all-time best.  He helped me start the SolidWorks User Group of Nebraska, and was always happy to come up from Kansas City to present.  He was a fantastic guy, and I dedicated my “key” to him –

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I knew that this would be a rough year at SolidWorks World without Wayne, but I heard that they were going to bring his sons to the conference and give him a well deserved tribute.  I thought that it was fantastic that his sons would be able to meet and talk with so many of the people that were influenced by Wayne, and get to see how much everyone loved and missed him.

On to SolidWorks World 2013 –

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It was a little surprising to open up the program and see a picture of my wife and I.

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Art Thompson, the Technical Project Director for the Red Bull Stratos Jump was on hand to talk about the logistics of Felix Baumgartner’s record breaking skydive.  I’ve jumped out of a plane at 13,500 feet – there is NO WAY I would want to jump out at 120,000 feet!

SolidWorks announced Mechanical Conceptual and my.solidworks.com.  They were just starting to show the augmented reality for eDrawings – this allows you to effectively “place” your SolidWorks model “inside” your environment – amazing, just amazing.

There was a lot of cool stuff being done with robotics and quadcopters (some just for “fun” and some that were a lot more practical.)  QuadCopter Fun

There was a robotic bird that they flew around the General Session that had everyone on their feet.  While this was very cool, there was a big downside . . . This was on the day that I was going to present . . . My presentation was scheduled immediately after lunch, so I brought my laptop and all of my stuff with me to the General Session . . . Someone behind me kicked over a GIANT mug full of coffee into my backpack!  I had no idea until we were getting ready to leave the General Session.  I picked up my backpack and it was dripping with coffee.  I pulled my laptop out of my backpack, and there was coffee pouring out of it! I skipped lunch, ran to the presenters room and tried to dry off my laptop as much as possible.  I went all the way back to the hotel to finish cleaning it up and grab another backpack.  (We were staying onsite, but we weren’t at the host hotel, so it was a boat ride AND a bus ride each way.)  I went straight to my presentation room to get set up and see how everything worked.  I started the presentation and nearly passed out when the first image loaded in small segments.  Aside from a few slow loading slides, the presentation went off fairly well, and seemed to be well received.  It was definitely cool to see my name on the monitor outside the room before the presentation.

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Still a little bummed that they no longer have “Presenter” ribbons, I really wanted one!

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Luckily Dan Riffel supplied me with a much more fitting ribbon.  My favorite ribbon is still the SWUGN one, they added a “WT” to honor Wayne Tiffany (because he signed all of his posts on the SolidWorks forums with a “WT”.)

To see everything that happened during the General Sessions, find a comfy chair and watch these videos:

General Session – Day 1

General Session – Day 2

General Session – Day 3

It was announced that SolidWorks World 2014 would be back in San Diego!

After the conference, we decided to spend a few days at Disney with my wife’s family.

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SolidWorks World 2012 – A Look Back

To say that a lot happened between SolidWorks World 2011 in San Antonio and SolidWorks World 2012 in San Diego is a bit of an understatement.

I was setting up the blog right before SWW11, and I started blogging about the conference shortly after returning home.  I was going through some of these old blog posts recently, and noticed that I posted one the night before my world changed.  I was involved in a very serious car accident about a month after getting home from San Antonio.

I wrote about it here: Todd’s Accident

This was right around the time that SolidWorks was announcing the dates/locations/sign-ups for the SWUGN Summits.  I was really looking forward to attending the Summit, and was anxious to get registered.  Probably a little too anxious if you ask my wife . . .

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Hospital

This is me, the day after being transferred out of the Intensive Care Unit, but still in the hospital.  Despite having 3 broken ribs, a partially collapsed lung, and head trauma that caused serious double vision, I was on my phone registering for the SWUGN Summit in my region.  It still seems really weird that I felt a “need to get registered” while I was still in the hospital.  When I went to the event a few months later, it was announced that I was the first person to register for the event, and that won me a free pass to SWW12!

On to SolidWorks World!

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To continue with the tradition of having great presenters from various television shows, SolidWorks brought in Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs.  It is always fun to hear people talk about doing what they love, and you can tell that Mike really enjoys his job!

Joe Dunne from SolidWorks sat down to interview Tony Fadell.  If you don’t know Tony, he has been dubbed the “Father of the iPod” – He is on a new adventure now, he created the NEST learning thermostat.

Funny story here:  A friend that I used to work with sent me a promo video for the NEST thermostat a few weeks before SolidWorks World.  I thought it was awesome.  I showed my wife, and she thought it was neat, but was not blown away.  About halfway through Tony’s interview I noticed my wife was messing with her phone.  I asked what she was doing, and she said she was pre-ordering a NEST thermostat! (I’m sure that there were a lot of pre-orders that came from that interview.)

Geoff & Mike Howe from Howe and Howe Technologies (and various Discovery Channel shows) spoke about a lot of their projects as kids, all the way up to some of their most current projects.  Ben Kaufmann from Quirky.com gave an overview of how Quirky is able to help people develop their products and get them to market more efficiently by making it possible for them to easily collaborate and share ideas with others around the world.

This was the second year of my “keys”, and I decided to keep the same basic design, but turn it into a handy sheet metal gauge – I’ve gotten some use out of this one –

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This would be the last year that my CSWP ribbon would get me into the “CSWP Special Event” – Starting at SolidWorks World 2013 it is “CSWE Only”.

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I figured that I should probably get around to taking the certification tests to get my CSWE, but this was my 6th time at SolidWorks World, and it was the first time that I had ever attended the event.  (It was a great event, held on the Midway aircraft carrier!)

It was announced that SolidWorks World 2013 would be back in Orlando!

Funny story from San Diego:  Toward the end of the conference, I was on my way to a session when I ran into one of the customers that I worked with when I was at the VAR. We were talking about the presentations that we liked, we didn’t like, and what we wanted to see.  I told him that I was really hoping to see something about the new Costing package in SolidWorks.  He just pointed to the monitor outside the room next to us, and the next presentation was an Intro to Costing.  I tried to explain that when I register for sessions, I do a quick scan for certain presenters/topics, and this was scheduled opposite Phil Sluder’s presentation, so I didn’t even “see” it.  (I ended up going to Phil’s session anyway – it’s a safe bet that you will always find me in the room when he is the presenter.)

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SolidWorks World 2011 – A Look Back

Don’t be alarmed, you didn’t miss anything . . . I said that a lot happened in between SWW09 and SWW11, and I wasn’t kidding.

To keep it brief . . .

I was still with the VAR during SolidWorks World 2010 in Anaheim, and I was incredibly busy – so busy that I was unable to attend the conference!  During the conference I was onsite with one of my favorite customers, getting them up and running on Enterprise PDM.  I would check the twitter feed every so often to see what I was missing, but I was so busy with the implementation that the week just flew by.

As we neared the end of 2010, I was presented with an incredible opportunity to get back into manufacturing.  After a LOT of thought, I made the tough decision to leave the VAR, and get back into “the real world.”

Now that I have left the VAR, how did I manage to get to SolidWorks World 2011?

Well, it was nearing the end of the early registration for SolidWorks World, and SolidWorks had a contest to decide who had the best excuse for not registering early.  I had just started with a new company, and I didn’t think the timing was right to ask if they would send me to a conference, so I put something together . . . I submitted it . . . and somehow I ended up winning the contest!

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I think that this was the big turning point, SolidWorks World started to become a really, really big deal for me, and it all started in San Antonio . . .

I am not sure if it was Matthew West that put together the contest, but he was the one that contacted me to let me know that I had won.  To say that I was extremely stoked is a huge understatement – In my email to him, I expressed my excitement and anticipation, not just because I was going to be able to attend SolidWorks World, but the conference kicked off on the day of our FIFTH wedding anniversary.  When Matthew heard the story about how Jade and I were married at SolidWorks World in Las Vegas in 2006, he said “I’ve got to tell some people about this!”

On to SolidWorks World 2011!

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(As a side note, I actually started this blog shortly after returning from SolidWorks 2011, so some of this is recapping what was already said in some of my first posts – check out some of them for the “full story.”)

There was so much leading up to the conference that it almost overshadowed what actually happened at the conference . . . Which I didn’t think was even possible.

First of all, I was back to being a regular “Attendee” and not a Reseller, which meant I had a new company name on my badge –

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My new employer just happened to have some of the most incredible laser cutting and engraving equipment, so I thought that it would be cool to create something that I could hand out that would separate me from the crowd, and the SWW “keys” were born!

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People seemed to really like the idea of a bottle opener/key-chain/business card.  It was such a hit that I have continued to make unique “keys” for SolidWorks World each year.

Matthew (West) had contacted me prior to the conference, and said that they wanted to do something special for us during the General Session one morning.  We were given instructions on where to go to get in early, and told that there were seats waiting for us –

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Yes, my wife and I were seated right next to former CEO Jeff Ray for the General Session on Monday.  The new CEO, Bertrand Sicot, was making announcements, when all of the sudden he started talking about us, and several pictures from our wedding appeared on the screens behind him!

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You can view the video clip from the General Session here:  SWW11 – 5th Anniversary

The Keynote Speakers were Gene Krantz and Jim Lovell from the Apollo missions – Many people still say that this was one of their favorite presentations from ANY SolidWorks World conference!  The surprise guest was Kevin Bacon, and I believe his band played at the VAR dinner on Wednesday night. (I was never known for my timing – missed out on an iPod at SWW08 by working for a VAR, missed out on the band by leaving the VAR.)

It was announced that SolidWorks World 2012 would be back in San Diego!  We really loved visiting San Diego in 2008, so we already knew that we would want to go back!

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SolidWorks World 2009 – A Look Back

SolidWorks World 2009 – The one without Jade . . .

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When you are with a VAR, you often don’t know whether or not you will be able to attend SolidWorks World – It does help your odds significantly if you are selected to present at the conference.  I submitted a presentation for SolidWorks World, but it was not selected (I’m not sure if that was for 2008 or 2009.)  This time around I was lucky enough to attend SolidWorks World in Orlando because my salesman and I sold the most seats of SolidWorks for our reseller in 2008, and attending the conference was our reward for a job well done.  This was also the first (and only) time that I attended the conference without my wife Jade.  (Anyone that knows me and my wife, know that we share a brain, so you can only imagine how “well” I functioned being away from her for almost a week.)

On to SolidWorks World 2009!

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The economy was struggling, and the AE’s were sharing rooms to help keep the costs down.  It was hitting everyone, Jeff Ray talked about one of the User Group Leaders that had been recently laid off by his company, but he still found a way to attend the conference.  That leader was Rodney Hall – I didn’t know him at the time, but I know him now, and he is a truly fantastic guy.  It was not a big surprise to anyone that he went to work for a great company.

Richard Branson was one of the Keynote Speakers, and he sat down for a truly amazing interview on stage.  I had always admired Richard, and that increased when it was announced that he had contacted another presenter about wanting to help fund his project.  (It was a fledgling company with a great idea, they were hoping to get it off the ground, Richard had contacted them while he was on his way to the airport, and said that he really wanted to help make it happen – how awesome is that?!)

John Hirschtick, one of the founders of SolidWorks, discussed his vision for the future of CAD.  Meanwhile, in the Partner Pavilion, Microsoft had their latest offering, the Microsoft Surface Table, and it was running SolidWorks – it was very cool, albeit somewhat interesting to design in SolidWorks without a mouse or a keyboard, just using your fingers.  It was like sitting at one of those cocktail table video games and “working.”

There were some people from New Balance shoes discussing how they use SolidWorks to work through shoe design before they move into making actual prototypes – these were some of the most complex single part designs that I had ever seen! (If I remember correctly, some of the models for the soles of the shoes alone had over 1,700 features!)

A couple of employees from Sony Ericsson were on hand to take us behind the scenes of the design of new cellular phones.  This was extremely interesting to me, because I got my start designing antennas for cell phones (this was way back when the antenna was on the outside of the phone, and you could pull the antenna up for better reception on some phones.)

The offsite event was at Disney’s Animal Kingdom – The ONLY people in the park were those of us attending SolidWorks World!  No waiting in lines, food & drink everywhere, the only thing missing was Jade . . .

It was announced that SolidWorks World 2010 would be held in Anaheim.

Unfortunately, I did not have a crystal ball to tell me everything that would happen before I would be able to attend SolidWorks World again . . .

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SolidWorks World 2008 – A Look Back

SolidWorks World 2008 was a big one for us at the VAR – most of the Application Engineers (AE) were able to make the trip to San Diego!  These are the people that I corresponded with on a daily basis, but they are hundreds of miles away, and now we would all be in one spot.  There are some that I spoke with on a weekly basis, but had never even met in person.  This is very similar to when you finally meet people at SolidWorks World that you already “know” from the forums.

This is part of the reason I really like this picture – It has me (from the Omaha Office), Steve (from the St. Louis Office), Jeremy (from the Des Moines Office), and the picture was taken by Brian (from the Kansas City Office) – It was great to hang with these guys!

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On to SolidWorks World 2008 –

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SolidWorks has been really good about bringing in stars of educational television shows, and this year was no different – Danny Forster from the Discovery Channel show “Build it Bigger” was on hand to talk about some of the projects that he was able to see being built.  He spent the majority of his time talking about the Arizona Cardinals football stadium – The field turf can actually be moved outside the stadium to water and get some much needed sun.  SolidWorks announced 3DVia Composer as a new product (It is now called SolidWorks Composer, and it is a fantastic product!)  The VEX robots that many students use for robotics competitions would now ship with a student version of SolidWorks to help with the design process.  Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway, was one of the keynote speakers, and he talked about some of the incredible things that he was working on at the time.  SolidWorks had the whole crowd on their feet when they announced that everyone in attendance would be getting an iPod Shuffle with videos and podcasts already loaded.  One of the coolest parts was that they had the SolidWorks logo engraved on them (and they were FREE!)  One of the “not so cool” parts was when they said “Everyone with a White Attendee badge gets one.” – Check out the badge, yup, it was a Yellow Reseller badge, and yup, that meant no iPod for me.

Oh well, our SolidWorks Territory managers took us to a great steak place where you got to grill your own steaks for dinner, which was A LOT of fun.  The offsite event was held in the Gaslamp District of San Diego.  This was incredibly cool, because a large part of it was only open to the conference attendees – there were tables of food in the middle of the street, restaurants/bars were open for us, there were bands, and so much more – we had a blast!

The conference ended on Wednesday afternoon, and immediately following was DriveWorks World – I had just become a DriveWorks Certified Application Engineer a few months before, so I was really excited to finish the week attending their sessions.

There was so much that happened, and it seemed to go by so fast, all that was left was to start planning for SolidWorks World 2009, which was scheduled for Orlando.

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A Short “Break” . . .

I had really hoped to keep churning out the “Look Back at SolidWorks World” posts, but things got a little bit busy in December.  I’ll get into this more later, but we’ll just say that it was probably my busiest month of the year.

Here is a teaser shot of how I started the month –

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And a teaser shot of how I finished the month –

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After winding down a little, I have started working on my other posts, and you should see those soon . . . After all, SolidWorks World 2016 is only 3 weeks away, and I wanted to have these done before I head to Dallas!

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SolidWorks World 2007 – A Look Back

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

After attending SolidWorks World 2006 in Las Vegas, I knew that I wanted to do it all again the next year.

There was a lot going on in my life leading up to SolidWorks World 2007 . . .

I revived the local User Group, renamed it “SolidWorks User Group of Nebraska” (SwugOne), and held a HUGE meeting with SolidWorks CEO John McEleney as the Keynote Speaker.  I believe there were 78 people at that meeting – a record that held until September 2015.

SolidWorks World 2007 would be the first conference that I could attend as a User Group Leader – This was really exciting for me!

If I remember correctly, this was around the time that SolidWorks started a news feed in the task pane.  I do remember very clearly the day that a note popped up that said Steve Wozniak was going to be one of the guest speakers – I called Richard Doyle and started the conversation with a barely coherent  “Is it true?!”  After clearing up some confusion “Who is this? Is what true? What’s going on?”  Richard confirmed that Wozniak was indeed going to be speaking at SWW07 in New Orleans.

(I’ve pretty much idolized Woz since I was in Junior High, so this was HUGE for me.)

My wife and I finalized our travel plans, and began the countdown.  This would be the first time either of us had been to New Orleans, and we were excited to check it out.

The stars aligned for me once again, and I took a job with the local SolidWorks Reseller (VAR) in January 2007.  In the User Group community this is sometimes known as “crossing over to the dark side” – User Group Leaders are very enthusiastic about SolidWorks, which makes them very good prospects for VAR’s, but it puts a lot of stress on poor Richard. (I think I am still apologizing to him for this career move.)

This was shortly before the conference, so I had to get everything switched over from “Attendee” to “Reseller” so that I was legit and I could attend all of the “Reseller” sessions.  This would also be the first year that I could proudly wear the Yellow Badge emblazoned with “Reseller”

(Not sure why, but this kind of made me feel like a “Rock Star”.)

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Leading up to SolidWorks World 2007, there was an online game that you could play to test your knowledge.  The coolest part about this was that a cartoon version of John McEleney was placed over a picture, and I ended up “standing” right next to him! (Yup, that’s me taking a picture in the partner pavilion!)

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On to the SolidWorks World 2007!

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There was so much that happened that it will be very hard to keep this somewhat brief, but here goes . . .

One of the presenters was a gentleman that was heading up the team that did the work to repair the damage that was done by Hurricane Katrina. (Did I mention that we were there less than 18 months after the storm?)  I think that people were a little bit nervous when the location was announced at SWW06, but it seemed as though everyone was impressed with how much had been done to breathe new life into New Orleans.

There was also some talk about a little company that was using SolidWorks to help design an entirely electric car, you might have heard of them . . . Tesla Motors.

I had recently heard about the new Saw Stop table saws, but I had no idea that they used SolidWorks for the design.  Saw Stop makes an incredible product, and we are lucky enough to have one in our Maker Space at Innovation Studio.

This was around the time that Google started testing Google Labs with some success, so it was only fitting to create “SolidWorks Labs” – You know the Treehouse tool . . . this is where it was “born.”

It was announced that DriveWorks Xpress was now going to be included with EVERY seat of SolidWorks.  (About 9 months after the conference I became a DriveWorks Certified Application Engineer.)

One of the innovative new products designed with SolidWorks was demonstrated – The Moo Bella Ice Cream vending machine – put in your money, make your selection, and in about 45 seconds, you would get a bowl of freshly made ice cream!  (This was available in the partner pavilion, and yes, it was AMAZING!)

On to the highlight of the conference for me . . . Woz!

This was the first time that I was at the doors for the General Session well before they were opened, and then I SPRINTED to the front row seats.  I thought that it was a great presentation, and I hung on every word.  It’s a little funny in retrospect, I remember so many people saying that they couldn’t understand him because he was talking so fast, and didn’t seem to get much out of his presentation.  I heard rumors that Woz thought that he had a certain amount of time, when he actually had a lot less time, but he still tried to fit the entire speech into the abbreviated time.  He was basically telling a lot of the stories that were in his book “iWoz” – The book had just come out, and I had already read it, so I was still able to enjoy the crazy fast presentation.  As soon as the General Session was over, I RAN over to Jeff Ray, and tried to calmly ask him if it would be o.k. if I asked Woz for an autograph – He said yes, just be respectful – so I did . . . Having been a fan of Woz for decades, I obviously had a copy of his book to autograph, but I also had a $2 bill (Just like me, Woz is a fan of the semi-rare and unusual $2 bill – so when I handed it to him and asked him for an autograph, his eyes lit up, he smiled and said “oh, you know about the $2 bills” – Made . . . My . . . Year!)  I have heard so many horror stories about meeting your heroes, and I am so happy to say that this was all that I could have hoped for and more!)

  • Side Note, my wife saw Woz tooling around New Orleans on a Segway while she was out exploring.

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I think that there was some other stuff happened . . .

When they were getting ready to announce the new features in SolidWorks 2008, they played a really cool Space Video that spanned all of the versions of SolidWorks and showed when key tools were implemented – it was such a cool piece of animation!

In keeping with the space them, they turned on a light that resembled a teleporter, and brought in Leonard Nimoy as the Surprise Guest!  I think it is a safe bet that there were a few Star Trek fans in the crowd, and he was met with a HUGE applause.

It was announced that SolidWorks World 2008 would be held in San Diego.

One of the really cool side stories was that the reseller that I just started working for was the top in their territory, so our Territory Sales & Tech Managers took us out to dinner at Brennans.  If you are a “foodie” you might know that this is the place that invented bananas foster.  (Yes, it was PHENOMENAL!)  Also on the foodie side of things – Cafe du Monde!  (I would probably be there a couple times a week if I lived in New Orleans!)

Another Amazing Conference!

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SolidWorks World 2006 – A Look Back

They often say that there is nothing like the first time.

When it comes to SolidWorks World this was definitely true . . .

 

Flashback to 2002-2003

I was working for a company that had just purchased SolidWorks.  Having already used several other programs, this was a truly refreshing change, and I never looked back.  I quickly found a User Group in the area, and got involved.  I also found out about this “little” annual event known as “SolidWorks World.”  I asked my boss if the company could send me to SWW2004 – no dice.  The next year I asked if it would be possible to go to SWW2005 – it was not going happen.

 

Shortly thereafter, I decided that I was just going to have to send myself to SWW2006 . . .

 

The timing couldn’t have been better – my girlfriend and I had been talking about a vacation.

The location couldn’t have been better – neither of us had ever been to Vegas.

That’s right, SolidWorks World 2006 was going to be in Las Vegas . . . which meant it was also the perfect time to get married!

 

We immediately started planning, and I signed up as soon as registration opened.  Since I was spending my own money to go to the conference, under “Company Name” I put “Free Agent”

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During the time leading up to the conference, I became the VP of the local SolidWorks User Group.  In December of 2005, after giving a presentation at the User Group meeting about how my company uses SolidWorks, I left the company for a new opportunity.  Two weeks later I took and passed the CSWP exam (Yes, the EIGHT hour exam!)

 

Enough backstory, on to SolidWorks World 2006!

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We arrived in Vegas on Saturday so that we could do some sightseeing before the conference began.  I think we went to get our Marriage License around 3 or 4 am on Sunday (Remember, we have been planning this since July/August, so this was definitely not a “whim” – I think someone was just a little anxious.)

 

We went to the Opening Reception on Sunday night and were blown away by the displays in the partner pavilion.  We ran into a couple people from our User Group talking to Jeff Ray (VP of SolidWorks.)  We told him that it was our first conference, we were super excited to be there, and we asked him if he knew about anyone else from the conference that was getting married while in Vegas.  He said he didn’t know of anyone else that would be exchanging vows, and then proceeded to ask a few questions about our plans.

 

The next morning in the General Session Jeff congratulated us and announced our upcoming nuptials to 3700+ SolidWorks fanatics.  That day at lunch we went to the top of the Stratosphere, got on the Big Shot, and exchanged vows!

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There were so many great things about the conference . . .

First and foremost, getting married!  This will always be the best part of the conference!

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The “special guests” were Adam & Jamie from the Mythbusters.

This picture was taken when we got back to the conference center after getting married.

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The offsite event was held at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway – Still one of my all-time favorites!

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My wife and I were able to take some pictures with John McEleney (SolidWorks CEO)

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We met a TON of great people (several of which we still talk to on a regular basis.)

The best part was getting to drag race a pair of Audi TT’s on the drag strip.

(She totally smoked me off the line, but I barely snuck by her at the finish line for a close win.)

 

The Tuesday morning General Session completely nailed it – on every seat there was a bottle of water and a package of aspirin – hilarious and necessary all at the same time!

 

On Wednesday morning in the General Session they announced where the next SolidWorks World conference would be held.  You could hear a pin drop in the room when they announced that SWW07 would be held in New Orleans.  (As we were sitting in the room, they were still cleaning up after Hurricane Katrina, which hit Louisiana a mere 5 months earlier.)  They assured us that there was a lot of work being done, and that The Big Easy would be ready for us in one short year.

 

As is always the case, the week went way too fast, and I learned so much that my head was still spinning for at least a week after I got home.

 

I went to SolidWorks World 2006 with a girlfriend and came home with a wife . . .

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Best . . . Conference . . . Ever!

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