For us Application Engineers, spring and fall are the busiest seasons at GoEngineer as we scramble to prepare and deliver our two biggest events of the year. In the spring, we put together a very technical, real-world scenario to showcase solutions to the problems our customers face daily. Then in the fall, we get to rollout all the new features of the upcoming SolidWorks version.
This year’s spring-time technical event was titled “Integrated Productivity,” a name carefully chosen to reflect the true intent of the presentation. I was lucky enough to be an integral part of the expert team, who was responsible for planning and presenting the show. From the start, we knew we wanted to showcase a complete and efficient workflow while packing in as many tips, tricks, and jokes as possible. We wanted a story, not just another demo or even a “What’s New” session. This was a show for you – our customer – and we wanted it to be exciting! We achieved our goals by incorporating over 10 software modules, working in real-time on two screens simultaneously, and adding Matt Morgan to the team (he was easy to pick-on).
The scenario had us improving upon an existing toy helicopter product – minimizing the BOM by creating simpler components, redesigning parts to suit manufacturing needs, optimizing assemblies based on simulation analysis, and adding more features such as Bluetooth (because in Matt’s words: “if it’s not broken, it doesn’t have enough features”). I don’t want to spoil the show by divulging too many details (hint: we’ll have each part uploaded to our website soon), but I do want to touch on some of the highlights.
Above is the roadmap we formulated for our journey from concept to release. As someone who isn’t always aware of what’s happening around him (my fiancée can confirm this!), I was a little taken back by the number of distinct steps in the process. Before we started, I knew my duties but I didn’t realize the extent of Matt, John, or Christine’s responsibilities. I was a little apprehensive about tying everything together in the time we left ourselves, but I later found I had no reason to be.
The best-in-class tools GoEngineer made available to us allowed all four team members to work in tandem. Each and every piece of software we used leveraged another, and we knew the minute someone made progress (thank you EPDM!). Traditionally, we think of the product cycle as a linear process – one step after the other – but our team learned this doesn’t have to be the case. I was able to begin creating molds and CAM programming before Matt had even finished his part modeling. John and Christine were able to work on the electronics side without fear of mechanical changes. The BOM always seemed to be one step ahead of us, and the technical documentation only one skip behind. Everything worked together, and you noticed! After each of our 10 shows across the US, attendees gave us evaluation forms and we gave them choppers and cash.
We knew going into the show that there was potential for disaster – we were cramming in twice the content, four times the words (thanks John), and ten times the laughs (thanks me) than our normal technical events and we were doing it live. We weren’t sure how well this would play out, but your responses more than convinced us that this format was the way to go. Not only did you stay awake (yes we noticed), but the reactions were overwhelmingly positive. Doubling the content meant the story was relevant to more people, and exposed some to technologies they didn’t know existed. Working live kept everyone entertained, especially when Matt decided to show off speed-modeling skills. My only complaint is that we collected the comment cards before lunch because, well, it was free and delicious and I’m sure we’d get high marks there too.
The energy during the “Meet the Experts” time before and after the main event was stellar – everyone had a story, a product, or an idea to talk about. I met EEs, MEs, machinists, professors, students, inventors, and entrepreneurs. I watched you meet and make connections with each other. As one of the presenters, this was easily my favorite part of the events because I was able to relax and meet new friends.
A close second would be touring your cities and visiting the places you call home. 10 events in 2 months meant a lot of traveling, but I had good company and saw some remarkable sights. I’m looking forward to doing it all again next year, and I promise to look a little less like a tourist (thanks again, John).