SolidWorks is a professional program that deserves (requires?) a professional level of preparation.
Your first hurdle - how to get legal access to the software. You might volunteer to work with a local school (here in the States it would be as an adviser to First Robotics club).
Before you go to professional training you should
- go through the built in tutorials (there are enough to keep you busy for a while).
-Lynda.com if you can gain access.
-purchase a book.
That way you will get the most out of your training.
- you might pick up poor techniques that will be difficult to reject.
-you might end up knowing more than the instructor.
Reverse engineer ALL of the files attached here over the past 3 yrs.
Find the challenges from past SolidWorks World conferences.
Find past practice problems for CSWA.
Learning the software is only half the problem - then you need to learn how to apply it. It sounds like you spent most of your time learning to create pretty pictures. I recommend going back to school and study a major that concentrates on mechanical engineering.
Excellent advice. The only thing I would change is that I would take a class first, if you do not already have access to SW.
I did it very much like J. Mather's suggested and while it worked out well, I did find most of the class beneath me at that point. The parts that were not, were as J. Mather's pointed out, bad habits I had already set on. Plus the class included a student version of the software that I could use at home to experiment on and learn. So I would take a real class at a school (community colleges offer them cheap) and probably run the tutorials after or at the same time. I would probably not start out with VAR based classes since those are usually compacted, see it all and hope you recall it. More traditional classes let you see a little and use it to better learn it before your over saturated. Though some people can do that just fine. Once you have a good handle on the basics, VAR classes on specific topics can be great.
In addition to the excellent comments from J Mather, there's nothing like hands-on experience, and that's for any field, not just oil/gas. Some familiarity with what you'll be designing is very valuable. Do you have any knowledge or experience with the oil/gas industry? I don't know that it would be a requirement, but it would definitely be helpful.
A small addition to what J Mather and Glenn mention....
An integral part in any design is knowing how it gets made or rather the manufacturing process/methods, it's easy to learn the software and design crazy stuff, now take it to market.
Thank you all for your very helpful comments, especially from J Mather! I do currently work in the oil/gas industry within an organisation who use SolidWorks in their engineering design department, that's what initially got me interested. I am going to follow J Mathers steps in following through the built in SW tutorials and then expand out to other material. I actually have full access to Lynda.com however their material on SW is disappointing? Can anyone suggest a very good book I could invest in to help me gain the knowledge I need to build a strong skill set in the techniques required for engineering projects? I am also looking into a mechanical engineering course for the future which will hopefully aid me in understanding the mechanical theory and processes involved in the manufacturing process.
If you can, get a subscription to Solidprofessor.com. Any of the books by Marie or David Planchard would be good, too.
As for books, I’ve used two.:
SolidWork Administration by Matt Lombard
SildWork 2013 Bible by Matt Lombard
I highly recommend the administrator book. I’ve only used SW for a few months now and –because of this book- now know more about the tool than some of my users who have been using the tool for years.
This allowed me to get a better understanding of the tool from the get-go. This will help you get a good head start on understanding some of the more common best practices. It will also help you get a better understanding of the tool so that you are not at the mercy of your IT team’s schedule. I’m not saying you should skirt around company rules. I’m just saying that some issues can be solved by you – rather than pushing the work onto them…which usually means a delay in your own design.
Definitely pick up what you can on modeling stability. Other than that, I wouldn’t worry too much about learning to do things the wrong way. As you’ll see in your career, there are multiple ways to do things in CAD. I’m sure you’re already familiar with this from your computing background. Some ways are acceptable for some companies and not others. Learn what the software can do and just accept that you will not be allowed to use most of it at some companies. Other companies might allow just about anything as long as the work gets done. Companies have their own DRM (Drafting Requirement Manual).
If you’re lucky enough to work in a company that has a KBE team, you will see more strict rules in the DRM so that the KBE team can help you automate your design. Predictable modeling practices seem to enhance the stability of the models.
For learning the tool online, there are many playlists on YouTube you can fill your day with. Most of them are pretty good. I recommend following the play lists of some of the larger vendors. These playlists seem to cover most of what I’ve read in the Bible book I listed above.
Also, there is Part Reviewer (link). This tool allows you to walk through a model to see how it was made.
I love designing and hope you find success in joining the field. I’m really curious as to how you plan to learn to be a Designer. SW is just a tool used in the profession.
SolidWorks (or any CAD) is just a means to an end. CAD without context is scribbling.
Learn about your industry. Learn about design. Learn about materials (big gaping hole in collective knowledge there).