I have seen teachers using SolidWorks in PLTW classes because the industries around their school and colleges where their students will be attending use SolidWorks. Also their graduates come back and say - I used SolidWorks in college. Ironically, I believe it is agaist the PLTW contract to use another software tool.
An alternative to PLTW is The STEM Academy www.stem101.org. Marie
I'm on the advisory board for one of the local vocational schools; they stopped teaching SolidWorks when the signed on with PLTW. Prior to that, they taught both Inventor and SolidWorks. In talking with the instructor, I think she would prefer to teach SolidWorks but they are now tied in with AutoDesk so no more SolidWorks. In our area, it is hard to find experienced SolidWorks users. I think SolidWorks has really dropped the ball on this one, they need to get more involved with the educational community because they're definitely losing ground to AutoDesk.
Ok, I am very confused... YOU are on the advisory board and THEY are telling you what they are going to do with their vocational program?? This is completely backwards…the tail is wagging the dog here. You are the one that is supposed to be directing her program, not some for-profit business based in New York State.
I don’t want to rant, but SolidWorks has NOT “dropped the ball.” PLTW will not let SolidWorks play in their game, as they are oath-bound to Autodesk. The PLTW "Intro to Engineering" midterm and final exams are 40% specific questions about the Autodesk Software and how it functions (i.e. which button is this, what do you do to close this window, etc.) The alliance is smart from a business standpoint for them - it gives PLTW an air of legitimacy, since Autodesk has been the 900 pound gorilla in the 2d CAD field for the last 30 years. It also is great for Autodesk, since the lower priced CAD software seems like a great deal to school bean-counters trying to balance budgets- schools get the whole Autodesk suite for $4,000 a year, instead of $17,000 a year. In fact, I know of one PLTW salesman who uses this line of thought as his marketing strategy to school boards and principals to close their traditional CAD/Drafting programs and get them signed up with PLTW.
As a result of this alliance Autodesk is slowly worming itself into more schools than it would have ever had access to in the past. It'll be interesting to see if the price stays that low once PLTW has destroyed every other secondary-level Industrial Technology program out there and it is suddenly the only game in town. PLTW is not the bully on the playground; PLTW is the mean, skinny kid who knows the bully and who's smart enough to ally with him to make sure that if a beating is about to go down then he's on the winning side.
One has to realize that PLTW is a business, and is not doing this "for the kids." Autodesk is in this for the money also; they have done nothing “for the kids” in the 12 years I have worked with them. They will be happy only when every high school in the US is contract-bounds to fork over $4,000 a year to them for the rest of eternity.
PLTW is all about getting kids into a university engineering program, and not about giving high school students real skills that they could use to get employment without post-secondary training. PLTW is so light on actual skills that their students cannot compete in SkillsUSA; rather they have a special PLTW Olympics for them.
If PLTW is creating a deficit of skilled engineering support/mechanical CAD technicians by their suicide pact with Autodesk, then I say, Great! It's MY job, as an instructor who teachers Solidworks, to respond and fill it by teaching students real skills with the tools that industry needs.