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#FlatSWUGN got his start thanks to John Matrishon back in August of 2016, and he was introduced to the "Twitterverse" by Brad Hakeman as he attended his first SOLIDWORKS User Group meeting in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.



That Tweet and picture really made my day, but what happened next completely blew me away. He went to Nebraska.




Then to Missouri, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Panama City Beach, well, you get the idea.  #FlatSWUGN was going to be traveling a lot.  In all, #FlatSWUGN visited 17 SOLIDWORKS User Groups in 12 US States, and even spent some time in Melbourne and Sydney, Australia.




It was a lot of fun, and such an honor to watch the adventures of #FlatSWUGN over the year.  The SOLIDWORKS user group leaders that participated could not have made me feel more special.  Not only did #FlatSWUGN attend user group meetings, he got to visit a lot of very interesting places.






The icing on the cake happened at the SWUGN Summit meeting at SOLIDWORKS World 2017 when I was presented with this beautiful scrapbook full of #FlatSWUGN pictures, places, and people.




There are simply no words to describe just how honored I was to be flattened, stuffed into an envelope, and sent around the world by our SOLIDWORKS User Group leaders, so let me end by thanking Brad Hakeman Chris Wurtele Rhonda Jacobs Todd Blacksher Ed Gebo Edward Poole Kendra Wardlow William Radigan Michael Lord Duncan Gillis Haldun Olguner Daniel Ferrucci-Herzberg Betty Baker Phil Sluder Travis Newton Nicole Walden Ricky Jordan and Brian McElyea


And a special thanks to John Matrishon for getting the whole thing started.  John and his family (yep, his family got involved ) worked very hard on the scrapbook, and I am eternally grateful.


(We weren't sure if we should to take this picture - we didn't want to mess with space-time continuum.  We didn't.)

If you are attending SOLIDWORKS World 2018 and want to meet and mingle with some of the most respected members of the SOLIDWORKS Community, here are a few places where you might run into them:

NOTE: User group leaders/officers wear this ribbon on their badge:




Saturday, February 3rd - 7:00pm to 10:00pm

CAD Monkey Dinner

Tom’s Urban in LA Live

1011 South Figueroa St

This dinner is organized by several group leaders, but is open to all who register -

Last year they had more than 60 people join in, and they are expecting a bigger crowd this year.


Sunday, February 4th – 1:30pm to 3:30pm

Welcome reception – Partner Pavilion

Dozens of user group leaders will congregate in the partner pavilion, and we will have a presentation in the Theater. Look for the green SWUGN ribbons and introduce yourself.


Monday, February 5th – 4:30pm to 6:00pm, Room 151

19th Annual SWUGN Summit Meeting

This is our annual rah-rah meeting, and we are expecting roughly 70 group leaders to attend.  We have a packed schedule this year, but if you want to come in and say a few words, we will accommodate you.


For more information about SOLIDWORKS User Groups and the people that lead them, visit

I was there for Phil Sluder's first Tips and Tricks session at SOLIDWORKS World 1999 in Palm Springs.  I was one of the lucky ones that got a chair.  Not only was it standing room only, the crowd extended out the door and down the hallway. I learned a lot that day, and I've learned a lot more from Phil since then.


Almost 20 years later we are about to see the end of an era.


Phil is the only person alive that has attended every single SOLIDWORKS World conference AND presented at every single SOLIDWORKS World conference.  In February, he will amaze, astound, and educate SOLIDWORKS World attendees one more time.



There's no such thing as a "full" breakout session (unlike hands-on which are limited to 28 attendees), so go ahead and sign up for Phil's last SOLIDWORKS World session (Monday, February 5th - 2:45pm to 3:45pm).


Let's send him off with the largest breakout session crowd ever!

The third SOLIDWORKS User Group, and the first outside of the US, SolidFacts turned twenty years old last week and I got to help them celebrate.



20 years and counting


Haldun Olguner has been with the group since the beginning, and Duncan Gillis joined the team several years ago to give Hal a hand.  Together they continue to provide Melbourne, Australia SOLIDWORKS users with training, networking, and a friendly, casual environment to discuss engineering and design.



Duncan Gillis and Alby "Hal" Olguner (there is a story)


Hal is also a member of the SWUGN Committee, and has been serving since 2005.  We tried to remember exactly when and where we first met, but the best we could do is narrow it down to either SOLIDWORKS World 2004 in Boston, or SOLIDWORKS World 2005 in Orlando.  No matter, we've been friends ever since.  Hal was gracious enough to show me some of the best sights that Melbourne has to offer, and I can't thank him enough.



Sunday Sightseeing in Melbourne, Australia


Hal and Duncan will be joining us at SOLIDWORKS World 2018 in Los Angeles, so if you are attending the conference, make sure you look them up and give them a big congratulations.



When you're 20, you get to have your cake and eat it too

I wanted to give the Eastern Iowa SOLIDWORKS User Group their own shout-out, but that wasn't the only thing that happened last week.  Jeff Niederman from SOLIDWORKS Product Definition and I travelled through the Midwest visiting customers, attending SOLIDWORKS User Group meetings, and eating some fine local foods (the Monday night Chinese buffet was the exception).


Jeff.JPGThe end of SOLIDWORKS 2018 Beta came just in time for Jeff Niederman


One of our visits on Tuesday was to the Crawford Company, best known in Iowa as HVAC/Plumbing experts, but one of their other divisions is gaining traction because they design, manufacture, and install....


Beer.JPGBrewing equipment!!


Iowa was also a chance to eat some local foods, and acting on a recommendation, we headed out to The Front Street Brewery and I munched on a great Breaded Pork Tenderloin sandwich.  Yum!


Pork.JPGAlways eat locally!


Wednesday morning we headed up to Rockford, Illinois.  It was a dicey trip as I almost ran out of gas on the way, but we managed to beat the flashing "0 miles to empty" dashboard warning, and continued on our way.  Our first stop was the little town of Roscoe, Illinois.  We had a customer visit scheduled for 2:00pm, so we found a little place called Pietro's Pizza and had the best Italian Beef sandwich I've ever had (and I've had a lot of them).


Beef.JPGWe ate on the lawn, but I still did "The Italian Beef Stance" from my knees.


Next stop was PCB Linear for a customer visit and plant tour.  I love all things mechanical - big chunks of steel, socket head cap screws, sheet metal - and the tour did not disappoint.  Little did I know however that they also have a 3D printing division, and wow, that was cool.


3dp.jpgThat's a big pawn


I was excited about Wednesday nights user group meeting because I had never visited the group before.  Thomas Clark took over the group in 2012 and has been leading it ever since.  we had a terrific meeting that was very well attended.  Did I mention?  They served Chicago style deep-dish pizza!


Rockford.JPGDenny Bahl (2nd from left) joined us from Chicago


Thursday morning took us to Madison, Wisconsin and our last customer meeting/plant tour.  Peter Van De Bogert and Sub-Zero/Wolf were our hosts, and the plant tour was great!  Some of you know I like to cook, and I've added a couple of items to my shopping list.


Oven.JPGSix burners, all gas, and stainless steel.  I want one!


The Madison Area SOLIDWORKS User Group was our last meeting, and we were treated to a look at how i3 Product Development gets things done.


IMG_5788.JPGIt took a while to get everyone together for this group shot


Jeff and I would like to thank all of our hosts, our SOLIDWORKS User group leaders, and the myriad of restaurants that kept us fat and happy during the whole trip.


Cheese.JPGI brought a little Wisconsin home with me

10 Years in Davenport Iowa

Posted by 1-3PL95X Sep 19, 2017

A little over 100 SOLIDWORKS User Groups have reached the 10 year milestone, and last week was the Eastern Iowa SOLIDWORKS User Group's turn.


Cake.JPGThe group was originally formed in 2007 by Brandy Tyler.  Brandy stopped me in the dining room at SOLIDWORKS World 2007, asked a couple of questions, and "poof", just like that we had a new user group in Iowa.



Paul Hines accepting the 10 Year SWUGN Award that I forgot to put in my suitcase


Paul Hines assumed the EISWUG leadership role in 2013.  Since then the group has enjoyed four meetings per year, steady growth in attendance, some great presentations, and plenty of food.  As a SOLIDWORKS User Group leader, Paul has made quite a name for himself, and is often referred to as the Quad Cities area "SOLIDWORKS Guy".


Congratulations Paul, thank you Brandy, and a big shout out to all of the members of the Eastern Iowa SOLIDWORKS User Group.  Let's keep it going for another 10 years!!

I love all of our SOLIDWORKS User Groups, but the Central Texas SOLIDWORKS User Group holds a special place in my heart.  In September of 1999, I stood in front of a room full of SOLIDWORKS users and welcomed them to the first SOLIDWORKS user group in Texas.


We had some laughs last night talking about when the group was formed.  When I said "in 1999" it didn't sound that long ago, but when someone said "that was 18 years ago" we all felt a little old.


Four short years later, I once again stood in front of the group to announce that I was stepping down as group leader because I had a job offer that precluded me from running the group any longer.  Unfortunately, the person I handed things off to ran into family and work issues, and the group was in danger of folding.


Then came Bill Casnovsky.  Bill stepped up to fill in "for a while" I think were his words, and brought the group back to life in 2006.


"For a while" lasted longer than I'm sure Bill thought it would.  He was still there in 2009 when we celebrated the groups 10 year anniversary.  He was still there when Greg Jankowski came to visit in 2010, he was still there when Wayne Tiffany made his last user group tour, and he was still there last night as he announced his retirement as president of the group.  In fact, the only meeting Bill ever missed as group leader came a few years ago when he got temporarily lost at sea.


I can't find the words to say how grateful I am that Bill spent 11 years taking good care of my baby.  Thank you for everything Bill!


Not surprisingly, Bill had one more brilliant idea for the group - naming Steve Calvert as his successor.  Steve stepped up a few years ago and assumed the roles of group VP and food chairman (a very important position), giving Bill some help that he had never had.  Steve is a regular (and highly regarded) contributor to the SOLIDWORKS forums, and I'm confident that he will not only keep the group going, he will improve upon all of the work that Bill put into the group.  Congratulations Steve on a well-deserved "promotion".



SOLIDWORKS User Group meetings are typically all about SOLIDWORKS (and related products), but some SOLIDWORKS User Groups offer their members a once-per-year "special" meeting.  There's still plenty of SOLIDWORKS learning, but the rest of the evening (or afternoon) is dedicated to food, fun, and making friends.


I attended two special meetings in July, the annual "Summer Baseball Meeting" in Chattanooga, and the annual "Dave & Buster's" meeting in Panama City Beach.  Both events were very well attended, there were great technical presentations (Phil Sluder was the featured presenter in PCB), and everyone really looked like they were enjoying themselves.  I had a great time, and want to thank Nicole Walden and Kendra Wardlow for setting up the meetings and inviting me to attend.


If your SOLIDWORKS User Group hasn't considered a yearly "special meeting", make the suggestion at the next meeting and have a discussion about what that might be - a baseball game, a BBQ, or even an amusement park or arcade. Who knows, your members might be as happy as the folks in this picture.