SolidWorks World (SWW) Recap from Tuesday and Wednesday by Nathan Dunn

SolidWorks World is officially over; let’s take a look at what happened last Tuesday and Wednesday. One of the great things about the second general session is that you already know how the doors are going to be opened. I leveraged the information gathered on Monday to get a great seat for the Tuesday and Wednesday sessions.


Tuesday’s focus was on beta tester recognition, the user group community, key sponsor presentations, a new certification exam announcement, and sharing of existing customer stories.


The SolidWorks Beta program is key to the continued success of future releases, and SolidWorks makes a point of recognizing extraordinary dedication and commitment to this testing program. Resellers and customers are recognized separately.  The most amazing feat this year was that one customer won all of the testing categories. There are typically three winners in the following categories: SolidWorks, SolidWorks Simulation, and SolidWorks EPDM. However, Masanobu Higashino swept all of them this year in what can best be described as a remarkable accomplishment.  It is impossible for me to even begin to guess how many hours of testing it required for him to reach this goal. Congratulations Masanobu, the rest of the user group should thank you for a more stable release!


The network of user groups is essential to the continued success of our communities and Richard Doyle is the leader of this group. This year’s presentation was very emotional for many. We celebrated and remembered a staple in the SWUGN community. Wayne Tiffany, a regular at SWW and a key leader in the network, passed away in 2012. Richard renamed the User Group Leader of the Year award as the Wayne Tiffany award and Wayne’s sons Michael and Josh reflected on their fathers life and announced the first award winner, Peter Fischer. If you are not currently involved in your local User Group, please visit to find a group near you. This is a great way to get involved, get some free training, and make some highly valuable connections within the SolidWorks user community.


There were two sponsor presentations, one from Lenovo and another from Intel.


With 116,000 unique logins for the online certification site, SolidWorks certifications have become much more prevalent in the community since that day back in 2003 when I received my CSWP (at the time there were less than 1,000 CSWP’s). The certification team introduced a new advanced level CSWP exam this year, a drawings certificate. I spoke with a user that was part of the pilot program for this certification and he commented that the team did a great job coming up with a way to accurately test a user’s ability to utilize drawing tools.  I will be adding this to my testing plan this year.  Next is the really good stuff from Tuesday morning, the customer stories.


Vijay Kumar, Professor in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania, was the first customer to present an incredible story. If you are reading this, and you know how to use YouTube you have probably already seen this video:

This is the result of the students work at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Engineering. The presentation was fascinating, and it is always very cool to see the cutting edge of technology that was created with SolidWorks. Although, if any of you have read “Kill Decision” by Daniel Suarez, this concept in reality may make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.

The next customer to take the stage was Elias Knubben from Festo, developers of some absolutely amazing bionic technology. This company utilizes some very cool technology in combination with inspiration from nature, and the results are nothing short of breath taking. The robot arm originally inspired by an elephant trunk in combination with the fin of a fish is one of the coolest ideas I have seen to address the problem of grasping any shape in any orientation with a robotic mechanism. The highlight of the day came at the end when Elias brought on stage a robotic bird that actually flaps its wings to fly, and can glide and steer in a way that realistically mimics the flight of a bird. They actually flew the bird (no one said, but it looked to have a wing span of about 5ft) over the audience before elegantly gliding it back to Elias’s waiting hands on stage. If you don’t believe me, please watch for yourself here:

With that, the second general session wraps up.


My presentation on “Designing SMART Components” was in the afternoon, so the time from 10AM to 2PM was spent rehearsing and preparing.  Although I may be just a little biased, the session was very good. In a couple of weeks, when the recorded audio and screen recording become available from the conference website, I will revisit the session with a more critical ear. If I still think the session was good, you will find it posted on our blog.  If not, then there will have been technical difficulties that prevented them from recording it in the first place. The conference transformed, for me, after the stress of presenting to this technical group of people was over. There were over 100 users in attendance and we all had a great time.


Tuesday night, SolidWorks rented out Universal Studios Islands of Adventure theme park. As a roller coaster junkie, I was glad to find a few friends that would ride with me, over and over. The Hulk was by far the best roller coaster at the park, and I might argue one of the better roller coasters I have ever ridden. When our group ended up back at the hotel, it was well after 11 o’clock and time to get in bed and get ready for the general session everyone wants to make sure they are awake for on Wednesday.


Wednesday’s general session is finally here, and it’s all about the future.  The preview of what’s coming in the next release is the star attraction of this session. It is extremely difficult to accurately take enough notes during this presentation, and there is no way to simply remember the important stuff. I have made this mistake before, so this year I decided to write down my favorites, and take pictures of all of it to help me remember two days later when it came time to write this post. But first, here are some additional Wednesday session highlights for you about the model mania contest, special presentations, and the top 10 enhancement requests countdown.


One of the most interesting things about this session is the presentation of the winners of the “Model Mania” contest, and more importantly Mark Schnieders walk through of the fastest way to accomplish the task. For those of you that don’t know what the Model Mania contest is, this is your opportunity to take on a specific modeling challenge, the person to complete the model and it’s change correctly and in the fastest time wins a prize. The part geometry always looks deceivingly simple, but the real challenge comes when the change requirements show up. I will say that in years past, I have never guessed right about how the model might change. I did not end up making time to try my hand at the contest this year, but did finally realize a key strategy to try for next year’s contest. Model the part as fast as possible the first time, make a design intent decision and just go with it as fast as you can. When the change shows up, remember that this is not a part you are sending to manufacturing, and you don’t need to worry about your ability to make successful changes to it in 2 years. Just use every trick you can think of to make the change quickly. As far as I can remember this is the first time I have made this really insightful observation.  Although, it is possible I have said this before and forgot by the time the next opportunity to use it came around. This year the fastest customer, Satakal Khalsa, (they have two divisions’ customers and resellers) modeled and changed the part in 8 minutes, and 45 seconds. I used to think that they divided the customers and resellers to give the customers a chance, but Satakal beat the fastest reseller by nearly a full minute. If you would like to see the previous year’s files to practice for next year you can find them on the forums here:


Next up was a special presentation from Tom Atchinson Founder and CEO of Mavericks Civilian Space Foundation. Tom has a serious passion for building rockets, and he has found a way through his foundation to allow middle school, high school, and college students to experience the joys and challenges of designing and launching a rocket. Tom’s best line of the day was “The rockets started small, but over time the rockets got bigger and my neighbors got more nervous”. I don’t know about you, but I would have loved to have had this opportunity as a kid. Marie Planchard surprised Tom at the end of his presentation by announcing that SolidWorks will be sponsoring his next launch project. It’sgreat to see how involved SolidWorks and its community members are in the educational system. For more information about this foundation please visit


Andrew Cresci, from NVIDIA Corporation, introduced some great new innovations in the graphics industry. The most exciting thing from Andrew was a preview of eDrawings running on an Android tablet. By the positive audience response to this announcement, I was clearly not the only one waiting on this new development.

Bruce Holway presented this year’s Top 10 enhancement requests:

10. Create auxiliary line for dimensioning angles.

9. Draw a midpoint line.

8. External thread wizard for all thread types.

7. Default the Concentric Mate for Axis to Cylindrical Surface.

6. Option for equal spacing on linear patterns.

5. Provide a version of eDrawings mobile app for Android devices.

4. Option to lock rotation as part of Cylindrical mates.

3. Slot Mate

2. Option to save SolidWorks files in previous versions.

1. Make rebuild time faster.


And now for the part everyone has been waiting for, the SolidWorks 2014 preview. SolidWorks always has a lot of fun with this presentation. This year’s theme is based on some crazy products presented in a late-night infomercial format. Instead of trying to write an accurate description of the skit itself, I will focus on a list of the potential features I found most interesting.  They include:

Split table by row count – the ability to automatically split BOM based on the number of rows that will fit on a page.

Network rendering option for animations – this was a logical next step after last year’s network rendering option in Photoview 360.

Slots as an option in hole wizard – this will allow you to change from a hole to a slot and vice versa within the hole wizard property manager.

Support in SolidWorks Electrical for harnesses – there is a lot of demand for this functionality.

Automatic bolt mapping from toolbox into Simulation as predefined connectors – this will save a lot of time properly setting up Simulation studies.

Environment themes –  the ability to save multiple environments including toolbar layouts, mouse gestures and hot keys.

There are many other enhancements that we are sure to enjoy once we have a chance to utilize them daily.

SWW 2014

Bertrand Sicot closed the last general session of the week by announcing that SolidWorks World 2014 will be returning to sunny Southern California. SolidWorks World 2014 will be held January 26th through the 29th at the San Diego Convention Center. We look forward to seeing you in San Diego next year.

Thank you for following along,

Nathan Dunn

This entry was posted in 3D Design, blog, GoEngineer News on by .

About Nathan Dunn

Nathan has been in the SolidWorks reseller channel since 2005. Prior to that, he designed rolling equipment for Halliburton. While at Halliburton, Nathan gained extensive hands on experience with Large Assembly Best Practices, Sheet Metal, Weldments, PDM, and machining. He was recently awarded the Elite Applications Engineer award from SolidWorks as confirmation of his extensive knowledge of the entire SolidWorks product line.

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