27 Replies Latest reply on Sep 14, 2015 10:43 AM by Saad Khan

    CSWA and no SW work experience?

    Dwight Livingston

      We have a job candidate who is CSWA certified and, though they have used CAD and solid modeling professionally for many years, learned SW on a student version and has never used SW for work.

       

      So, could one pass the CSWA and still not have the SW skills to function at work? I am not talking about all the other skills and abilities that go into being a mechanical engineer, just the CAD part. How would you compare this person with someone who seems equally talented and has used SW professionally for awhile, but is not certified?

       

      Thanks

       

      Dwight

        • Re: CSWA and no SW work experience?
          Josh Brady

          CSWP shows very little.  I'm sure CSWA shows less.  You could pass either exam using any solid modeling package on the market - not necessarily SolidWorks.  I would pick years of SW experience over CSWA any day.

           

          Of course, this is (as you say) disregarding engineering skills.  Designing and engineering skills trump a specific CAD package experience any day.

            • Re: CSWA and no SW work experience?
              Kevin De Smet

              "Of course, this is (as you say) disregarding engineering skills.  Designing and engineering skills trump a specific CAD package experience any day."

               

              I'm not going to dispute this, but I do experience that CAD is seen by a lot of people as a mere "extra" and not a "core" skill or job requirement for any position within the company. I feel this is fallacious.

               

              Of course I don't expect to find those people here -- but CAD is a skill that, while it can be learned in a few days, it takes years to master. And in a business it's all about pumping out quality, and fast! Solidworks is the perfect example in that it can be one of the most powerful softwares but not by someone that has learned it as an "extra" on the job in 3 days.

            • Re: CSWA and no SW work experience?
              Chris Kamery
              The first thing that would come to mind is speed. Knowing shortcuts, how each of the SW commands work, etc. are big attributes to someone who uses SW. Depending how you use SW in your company, speed and best practices may be more or less important to you. We all know that the order in which you model plays a big part to system performance / stability.
              • Re: CSWA and no SW work experience?
                Mike Puckett

                Dwight,

                 

                The CSWA certification would show you as a potential employeer that the person in consideration for a job will likely not need the SolidWorks training that someone without the Certifcation will need.  That way once you hire this person you will be able to focus more on trining the person in your companies needs rather than having to train them in basic SolidWorks functions first.

                 

                If you come across a candidate that does not have a certification, you could possibly use it as a pre-employeement exam as long as thats an option in your state?  If your company is currently on SolidWorks Subscription, those exams can be had for free.

                • Re: CSWA and no SW work experience?
                  Tony Cantrell
                  The CSWA is generally offered to students after they complete training courses. It's a good test for students or someone new to SolidWorks.
                  • Re: CSWA and no SW work experience?
                    Matt Lombard

                    Dwight,

                     

                    You can take the CSWP without even using SolidWorks software. You could use Inventor or Pro/E or Sketchup to take the test.

                     

                    The CSWP has stress analysis but no drawings.

                     

                    CSWA is very similar to CSWP, but it has drawings questions on the test, and fewer questions.

                     

                    In their current state, I see very little value in the CSWA and core CSWP tests. The better value seems to be in the specialty tests like surfacing and sheet metal. The core tests don't reflect knowledge of the software at all. In the quest to get a test that can be graded automatically over the web, and takes less time to take, they emasculated the value for separating the men from the boys (sorry, ladies) when it comes to expertise in SolidWorks.

                     

                    I understand another new version is in the works.

                     

                    Anyway, to your question, yes, I completely believe that you could have a CSWA certification and not be able to use SolidWorks productively in day to day work.You could learn what you need to know to pass the CSWA in about 4 hours, if you have prior parametric CAD experience. Of course exactly the same is true of the CSWP, since there is little in the line of skill or knowledge that separates the two.

                      • Re: CSWA and no SW work experience?
                        Adrian Velazquez

                        As much as I like being a CSWP a would have to agree with you Matt.

                         

                        Even though I failed the CSWP my first time around I found the test to be very simplistic. It didn't test my knowledge nor understanding of the software.

                        I failed because I don't spend 40 hours a week modeling and don't use Simulation Express. I spend my days answering SW questions and training of those who spend more time modeling than myself. I'm trouble shooting and problem solving assemblies all the time, coming up with guidelines and best practices (and enforcing them).

                         

                        I'm still wainting for that Elite Certification Test to see what it's all about. I like that the current CSWP is online and you can take it on your computer with your settings, but it's kind off an open book test and that can diminish its value.

                         

                        Just my two pesos!

                          • Re: CSWA and no SW work experience?
                            Matt Lombard

                            Adrian,

                             

                            Yes, I barely passed the new CSWP (77% or something like that I think), although I got a 98% on the CSWP I took in 2002, a 92% on the reseller support test in 2005 and a 100% on the surfacing test this year. We're in good company, too. A lot of good users didn't do very well on the test, which says more about the test than the users.

                             

                            I think the new test writers are on a learning curve. The test are improving since the initial big change a couple years ago. The surfacing and sheet metal tests are better than the CSWP, especially in the state it was in a couple years ago.

                        • Re: CSWA and no SW work experience?
                          Robert Stupplebeen

                          The cert or experience might get them an interview but that's about it.  If they have a portfolio or examples of their products I look them over for similarities with our product line.  Assuming they don't have this which is most of the time.  I go to the interview for information.

                           

                          I am particularly interested in surfacing skills so I skew my interview questions to reflect this.  I believe that aptitude in any CAD package designing parts of similar complexity to your product line is more important than the exact package.  My questions go like this.

                           

                          What is the most complex part you have designed?  Can you explain the methodology you used such as extrudes, planes...?

                           

                          If it seems like they do know how to make the swoopy shapes I will grab what ever is handy (soda bottle, mouse) and ask for their methodology of designing it.

                           

                          I has ususally been obvious if people know how to do this work or not.  The B.S. detector is the best tool you have.  I hope this helps.

                           

                          Rob

                          • Re: CSWA and no SW work experience?
                            Harold Brunt

                            Of the few times we have had to out-source some of our CAD work due to capacity, certification has not been a consideration. I am more concerned with a Designers capabilites and ability to mesh with our group. Should our company grow to a size that we require a CAD Administrator then certification will play a much bigger role.

                             

                            Certification matters as an indication that a person is willing to pursue professional certification at some level if it is part of a continuing education history but mostly I think the value to the employer depends on what the Engineer/Designer will be tasked with once hired.

                              • Re: CSWA and no SW work experience?
                                Josh Brady
                                None of the SW certs will give any indication of whether or not a person knows anything about CAD Admin.  Nothing on the tests has anything to do with administrating a group of users.  Nothing about installation, system options, toolbars, customization, file organization/structure, drawings, nothing.
                              • Re: CSWA and no SW work experience?
                                Jeff Mowry

                                Dwight, I've never landed a job or contract gig as a result of having a college degree--nobody's even asked before.  Similarly, the CSWA and SCWP would add no real value to me either, as far as I can tell, because I land my gigs with a portfolio or by dumping a selection of manufactured products on the potential client's desk and discussing them.  Proof is proof, but evidence can be shaky.

                                 

                                I'd recommend in cases like this that you create a 2D drawing indicative of something this person might likely need to know how to model at your place, print the drawing, and have the candidate model it while timed.  Examine their model and see if it's all a hack or if it's efficient and well modeled.  This will indicate who your candidate is far better than a certification or degree.

                                  • Re: CSWA and no SW work experience?
                                    Josh Brady
                                    Careful, Jeff.  You can't just go making up your own test to see if someone is qualified to work for you.  You have to spend a lot of money for someone to certify that your test is not discriminatory to any minority group!
                                      • Re: CSWA and no SW work experience?
                                        Dwight Livingston

                                        Thanks, everyone. I'm glad to have a range of opinions on this. My boss asked me this question and now I think I can give him a fair answer.

                                         

                                        Dwight

                                          • Re: CSWA and no SW work experience?
                                            Saad Khan

                                            Hi Mr. Livingston

                                            I also have the same question. Would you share your answer please?

                                            I am a graduate from Mechanical Engineering Technologist (2014) and worked full time with an HVAC company. We used SolidWorks in our college and over my period of full-time work, i have come to appreciate and love SolidWorks. As for my status now I want to work in a company that uses SolidWorks In order to be a strong candidate I am writing the CSWA exam. Mostly because i want to prove/show that I am willing to work hard ready to take the step whenever necessary

                                             

                                            The reason for my Question: I know many students/new Graduates like me having face difficulty to compete with university graduates or candidates who has experience. It would definitely help us as a guide to know what employers views things while hiring a candidate

                                          • Re: CSWA and no SW work experience?
                                            Matthew Lorono

                                            Josh,

                                             

                                            That is actually a true statement, but only to an extent (as the recent Supreme Court ruling made clear).

                                             

                                            Dwight,

                                             

                                            My input is a bit late.  The CSWA is valuable to know that the person knows SolidWorks well enough to conduct what I would consider basic daily modelling work.  There are some drawing questions on it, but it should not be considered proof that the individual can make standards compliant drawings.  The ability to make drawings is actually quite specific to industry and I wouldn't expect any new person to know specifics without job experience.  The ability to start a SolidWorks drawing can be verified with a simple question ("how do you start a SolidWorks drawing").

                                             

                                            My opinion is that the tests should not be completely automated.  It is OK to have a portion of the tests automated, but there are some things that just require a human to judge a human's work.

                                             

                                            SolidWorks Corp is focused on an automated test they can control.  My feed back to them is that maybe they should make a more robust test that involves grading at the hands of a body of individuals who's job is to do that every day.  It means they would have to charge a fee for the service, though.  Perhaps the basic level tests can be automated, but also have some higher level test that is reviewed by a professional for a super-elite level certification?

                                        • Re: CSWA and no SW work experience?
                                          Mauricio Martinez-Saez

                                          2020 wrote:

                                           

                                          We have a job candidate who is CSWA certified and, though they have used CAD and solid modeling professionally for many years, learned SW on a student version and has never used SW for work.

                                           

                                          So, could one pass the CSWA and still not have the SW skills to function at work? I am not talking about all the other skills and abilities that go into being a mechanical engineer, just the CAD part. How would you compare this person with someone who seems equally talented and has used SW professionally for awhile, but is not certified?

                                           

                                          Thanks

                                           

                                          Dwight

                                           

                                          When I need an engineer or a CAD technician at my department, I never give any value to certifications or training adquired on "canned" training sessions... I evaluate the experience of the individual and previous work history.  If afte that I am not sure... then my method is very simple...

                                           

                                          I explain and show to the individual in detail what we do and what we need to do, after that I make to him the follwing offer:

                                           

                                          A two weeks temporary contract paying him 80% of what he wants to make, at the end of the two weeks, if we are happy with his performance we give him a bonus of 25% and a permanent employment agreement with a compensation of 120% of what he was expecting to make, making clear that if at the end of the two weeks he do not perform the work we expect (and says he can do) we will not consider him for permanent employment.  So far this have work for us, since if the individual knows (and he is the only one that realy knows) that he is not capable of doing the job, he will say "no thanks" and when an individual knows he can do the job, he will accept the proposal.

                                            • Re: CSWA and no SW work experience?
                                              Matthew Lorono
                                              I think several individuals have kind've missed the point.  Dwight's candidate sounds like someone you'd hire in an entry level position for CAD, or someone with specific experience in Engineering and now has gone through the effort to learn SolidWorks.  In either case, these are desireable traits for particular kinds of position.  Knowing SolidWorks is not knowing Engineering and visa verse.
                                                • Re: CSWA and no SW work experience?
                                                  Matt McKendrick

                                                  I have taken both tests.  I would not use a CSWA or CSWP as the primary metric in evaluating potential CAD designers.  Rather, if I had 2 candidates with equal experience and education, a CSWA or CSWP may tip the scales in their favor, not because it says much about their Solidworks prowess, but rather their motivation.  Those tests are totally optional, and those who take it generally are very self-motivated.  That says something to me at least.

                                                    • Re: CSWA and no SW work experience?
                                                      Brian Hoerner

                                                      Matt,

                                                       

                                                           This response was well put, the only weight I give to the current CSWP/A tests are a motivational one.  I have not taken the tests because for me currently there is no real "test of my skills" value.  I have spoken with many who have taken both the current and previous test, and unless the candidate took the test several years ago, all it says is that they have some basic knowledge of CAD capabilities, not making him a power users.  We use in internal testing to determine if a candidate has the types of CAD skills, or can learn them, for the products and procesess we generate.

                                                       

                                                           It is nice to see someone motivated enough to take the test, but that doesn't hold a skill value for us.

                                                      • Re: CSWA and no SW work experience?
                                                        Michael Herron
                                                        So Matt....my question to you is this. I have taken the sheet metal test, associate and CSWP test and have failed them all. Does this make me a better job candidate because I felt motivated to take the exams but failed? I have been using SW since 2004 and have not passed one exam. I know it makes me look stupid though.
                                                          • Re: CSWA and no SW work experience?
                                                            Matt McKendrick
                                                            Sigh....  No, I would not judge you on that because I have taken the tests and I know their value as a Solidworks skills assessment is limited.  Work experience, a Solidworks portfolio, and education are of much more value, no matter how you may have fared on these "tests".  I only point out that, because of their somewhat superfluous nature, they say something about the character of the person who pursues taking these tests, pass or fail. Most people wouldn't waste their time, but their are those who seek challenges, even when there is no apparent benefit from doing so.  By the way, if you don't pass the tests, that doesn't mean your a bad Solidworks designer.  I failed the 1st time on the CSWP, primarily due to the fact the 2D drawings provided were distinguish to see and poorly drawn.  A fact that is well documented by many users in this forum.  Another thing to remember is that, no-one needs to know if you don't pass these tests if you're worried about it (I wouldn't be).  If another freebie test is offered, I would retake the tests.  I think you would pass on the next attempt.
                                                              • Re: CSWA and no SW work experience?
                                                                Mauricio Martinez-Saez

                                                                I will be more that happy to take those test, when anyone of the people designing the test or giving the certifications can teach me or any one of my engineers to do something we do not know how to do with the application (and there are many things we do not know how to resolve or do yet).

                                                                 

                                                                We deal with a couple of local VAR's and all their support people have all the certifications... however, no one of them have the foggiest idea of how the work we do need to be done... or how to help us to make things in a better way...

                                                                 

                                                                The more "junior" of our engineers was working with Pro-E back on 1998 and works with SW since 2003.  Another of the engineers working on my department do his first CAD design with MEDUSA 2D, them move to CATIA V4 on HP-UX after that worked with Pro-E for over 8 years, before start working with SW on 2005.  None of them have CSWA or ever thake a test.  However, as Director of Engineering for the Company I hope no one of them take the test and receive a better job offer from a competitor, once they are certified by SW...

                                                                  • Re: CSWA and no SW work experience?
                                                                    Michael Herron

                                                                    I wouldn't hold my breath on that ever happening Mauricio.

                                                                     

                                                                    All the tests I have taken have been freebies. Makes me wonder if SW will ever offer me a freebie again. But the truth be told, I am not sure I'd take them again if I were offered. I do not have a two monitor setup and from my previous experience it is hard to jog back and forth between the test and model and having enough time to finish the test. When I got close to the time limit, I was just putting in answers just to fill out the test.

                                                                    I feel inadequate enough and I don't need more failed tests to reinforce it.

                                                                      • Re: CSWA and no SW work experience?
                                                                        Mauricio Martinez-Saez

                                                                        28102 wrote:

                                                                         

                                                                        I wouldn't hold my breath on that ever happening Mauricio.

                                                                         

                                                                        All the tests I have taken have been freebies. Makes me wonder if SW will ever offer me a freebie again. But the truth be told, I am not sure I'd take them again if I were offered. I do not have a two monitor setup and from my previous experience it is hard to jog back and forth between the test and model and having enough time to finish the test. When I got close to the time limit, I was just putting in answers just to fill out the test.

                                                                        I feel inadequate enough and I don't need more failed tests to reinforce it.

                                                                         

                                                                        Well Michael, I believe that you and me (and my engineers) without having pass the tests we are condemn to continue working for a low pay...  any way this days with the financial crisis, we can not pretend to find a high pay "certified" engineering work... so we should be happy by keeping our poorly paid "untrained" and "untested" positions.
                                                                • Re: CSWA and no SW work experience?
                                                                  Chad Hawkenson

                                                                  That is exactly why I took the exam.  I have been using S.W. since 08'.  I am faily proficient with its functions.  However, I took it upon myself to become certified (with only taking the CSWA at this point).  I guess I take what I do seriously and and always want to strive to do the best I can or even better.  The exams are not a complete gauge of your ability to engineer or for that matter even be able to navigate around the software but more as a personal gauge as to your desire to take a personal interest in what you do.  I did it for myself.  I guess I like what I do!