I just wanted to tell everyone how awesome the Nashville SWUGN Technical Summit on Tuesday 9/11 was. To give everyone a little background, I am four months into the Drafting/CAD program at the Tennessee College of Applied Technology - Shelbyville. About two months ago, after having knocked out the required chapters in Engineering Drawing and Design and quickly realizing that the "industry standard" two-dimensional software was falling flat in describing my ideas that, consequently, occur in three dimensions, I double-clicked that little red box. Outside of an excellent demonstration that Tim Fleischman and ModernTech put on for our class, I have had little outside influence in my quest to master this powerful tool known as SolidWorks.
To start with, the event was held at the upscale Embassy Suites in Franklin,TN, which also happens to be my hometown. Right off the bat my apprehensions of being a drafting student in a room full of engineers and professionals were put to rest. People introduced themselves one after another and everyone seemed to be happy to be there. The program began with a fun introduction from SolidWorks' Richard Doyle that included a heartfelt thanks for our participation, and explanation of the day's events, and even some light-hearted jabs at some of the presenters. At this point I'm smiling ear-to-ear as it was becoming apparent these were my kind of people. You can really tell when a speaker believes in what they are doing when they are smiling when they aren't talking, and the audience spends almost as much time laughing and nodding in agreement as they do taking notes ( of which I have five pages worth!)
After the introduction we broke for fifteen minutes while the hotel staff converted the large hall into three seperate, more intimate rooms. I do not believe I sat through one session without at least three or more Ah-Ha moments, and from the looks of those around me, even seasoned users were learning things that in years of everyday use they had yet to discover. A true testament both of the skills and knowledge of the presenters and the far-flung capabilities of SolidWorks. Richard Doyle gave an enlightened presentation on drawing, which for this soon to be drafter, was a pre-requisite. Brian McElyea from the NASWUG did a great job teaching about advanced assemblies and mates.
We then broke for lunch. Embassy Suites provided a buffet with gourmet hamburgers, hotdogs, salad and deserts and it was awesome!
After lunch Nicole Walden of the ChattSWUG gave a presentation on 2D and 3D sketches. With an infectious laugh, she opened my eyes to many things I had not yet figured out. Among several of the aforementioned Ah-Ha moments; How to keep your dimensions, " Nice and pretty." My day ended with a double-header from SolidWorks' Mike Spens who demystified surfaces ( remember, I am still learning) and encouraging us to think about ways to model for speed while taking into account design intent and facilitating the obligatory changes that any given model will go through on it's way to the end-user. In all, I was only able to attend one-third of the available sessions, but I will be going back over my notes for the next couple of weeks and referencing the replays of the presentations available at http://twitter.com/swugn.
With all that said, I firmly believe it is the people that made this Technical Summit so valuable. The quality of discussions I had between presentations and the demeanor of the participants was astounding! I made some connections yesterday that I hope will last for years to come. From engineers to executives to the self-taught designer I spoke with, everyone has inspired me to push myself. The culture surrounding SolidWorks, the UserGroups, and the users themselves is a culture of innovation, matchless capabilities, and really sharp, genuine people, and as such, is exactly where I want to be. Attending the Nashville SWUGN Technical Summit was probably the most important thing I've done since deciding to go back to school ,well, except for double-clicking that little red box.
President SkillsUSA Tennessee College of Applied Technology - Shelbyville Chapter