Chris Scott – From SWW Virgin to Addict

Posted on January 28th, 2013. Posted In SolidWorks Community

Once again this year, SolidWorks held their Internet Correspondent contest and the winner was Chris Scott from Jacksonville, Florida. That, for this post, is neither here nor there. Chris fulfilled a need I had; to interview someone who had never been to SolidWorks World before. While I remember my first time (who doesn’t?), I wanted a fresh perspective on it, so I asked Chris if he’d be up for it. Thankfully, the fool agreed.

Chris Scott

 

This kid is fresh out of college and was an easy mark. Even if he wanted to back out now, I have his picture and answers, so it’s too late. He’s quite the go-getter, this one. He works as an Aerospace Engineer, but also started his own company, Forza Engineering, where he designs and manufactures carbon fiber parts. I only had a few minutes to talk to Chris, but he seemed to be a pretty decent guy and I didn’t hear any rumors about him getting all crazy (which we’ll have to fix in San Diego), so I’m guessing he’s ok. Without further ramblings by me, here’s my interview with Chris Scott, SolidWorks World (ex-)Virgin.

What prompted you to enter the SolidWorks internet correspondent contest?

It popped up in my Facebook feed (I have SolidWorks ‘liked’) about it.  I looked at previous events and researched it a little more to see what the event entails and was really impressed by the mixture of activities going on and it looked like a great time and place to be.  I really saw this as an opportunity to meet new people and learn more about SolidWorks.

How’d you feel when you won?

I was stunned, I really didn’t think that I was going to win it.  Definitely didn’t feel real, like as if I missed some sort of a ‘catch’ or that it was a mistake.

Now, for the main reason I’m doing this. What were your thoughts as you entered the general assembly Monday morning?

 I really didn’t know what to expect.  You really have no idea how many people are there until you see several thousand people trying to fit in the hallways.  The doors opened and you walk into this massive room with lights, projectors, music, etc and people flooding in like a scene from Braveheart.

As the day stretched on, what were your thoughts?

The first day was extremely overwhelming, but in the best way possible.  It was great being a part of the presentation and being able to witness firsthand all the new exciting platforms and features that SolidWorks is adding.  I was blown away with the special guests from the Red Bull Team.  Afterwards I had the delight to meet and talk with them, I’ve been following that project for several years now and was even familiar with the Joseph even before then, so I was pretty stoked.  As the day went on I attended several technical sessions which allowed me to learn new tips and tricks.  Lunches and breaks provided an opportunity to meet plenty of new people and run around the Partner Pavilion and check out the cool gadgets.

What stood out in your mind most?

More like what blew my mind the most, z space.  That holographic reality display was absolutely brilliant, I couldn’t have enough of it.  Also I really enjoyed the ending of Wednesday’s general session and how they closed it out… where can I get my SolidGrill 3000???

What was your favorite part(s)?

The community, definitely.  Everyday, every minute it seemed I was meeting new people and making new friends.  People from all over the world and all different backgrounds of industry.  I checked into the hotel on Sunday knowing nobody there and when it came time to leave on Wednesday, it seemed I was saying goodbye to everyone in the hallways.

How would you sum up your experience?

It was phenomenal.  I really had no idea what was in store for me.  There was something to do every single minute of the day.  Between wide array of guest speakers that have accomplished so much, the endless list of technical sessions to attend, the great new friends I’ve made, and to witness this all first hand was a real treat.  I’m still really impressed they managed to fit almost 5000 of us into buses to head for Universal Studios!

You planning on going to San Diego?

My bags are already packed!  I would love to see what SolidWorks has in store for next year.

There you have it, folks. A first-hand account from a SolidWorks World newbie.

SolidWorks World 2013 Wrapup

Posted on January 24th, 2013. Posted In SolidWorks Community

I’m 35,000 feet above the U.S. in a plane fighting headwinds that are going to cause me to be 35 minutes late, which they didn’t tell us until after we were airborne.  On the one hand I want to curse United for not having WiFi on board, but where I somehow ended up in economy plus (awesome amount of legroom and extra tilt when reclining), I’m going to call it a wash. I just hope my ride waits for me.

SolidWorks World 2013 was as I remember SolidWorks World to be; lots of walking, lots of people, lots of cool tech, lots of info and little sleep. All of that adds up to an excellent time. Mostly.

Let’s start with the downside of this year’s event. As many people pointed out live, during the morning general sessions, the partner talks were tedious. We, the captive audience, understand that these large companies fork out huge sums of money in support of SolidWorks World and, because of that, it keeps attendee fees down and allows for the special events, among other things. They should get their time on the big stage to toot their own horns. Aside from nvidia, the other presentations were so absolutely mind-numbing. Nvidia’s wasn’t much better, but enough so to make it stand out in my mind. I don’t remember what the others even talked about, but I do remember that nvidia helps with the graphics in Tesla automobiles. I think it’s important for these partners to remember that they’re going to be talking to a room full of pumped up people. The energy is always so high when everyone is in there. The partners need to feed that energy. Stay away from your boardroom presentations. Pump up the music, get excited yourself and entertain us! Getting up there and talking to us like we actually want to hear what you have to say only causes us to tune you out.

While I’m driving this bus, let’s talk about what I saw as another major faux pas. The SolidWorks community lost one of its greatest champions last year, Wayne Tiffany. Wayne was an incredible individual and was honored on Tuesday, and rightfully so. His sons were there, Richard Doyle was on stage fighting tears, as we’re many of us in the audience. This heartwarming moment was sandwiched in between two sponsor presentations. I took exception to this, as did others. To follow up something so poignant with a sales pitch was wrong. Sorry, SolidWorks, you dropped the ball on that one.

I’ve already bitched about Bernard’s boardroom financials seminar he put on Monday, so let’s move on to all the good that happened.

Monday’s special guests were Sage Cheshire Aerospace, the team that allowed for Felix Baumgarter to break the speed of sound while free falling from the edge of space. What these guys did will help advance future record breaking attempts. The fact that SolidWorks played a played a part in it is icing on the cake.

Tuesday, we were given a sneak preview of Skynet. Dr. Vijay Kumar, Engineering Professor at the University of Pennsylvania  showed us how his autonomous quadcopters simply do as they’re told. No specific leader, just a common goal to accomplish. You should really check out this video from day 2. My question is this: how long before they become aware?
Thankfully, that was all tempered by the next customer, Festo. Elias Knubben, Head of Corporate Bionic Projects,talked about Festo’s bionic division and how they work to mimic nature as close as possible. In this video, you’ll see a robotic bird flying. Not with propellers, not with jet engines. With wings that move just like a bird’s. God forbid those birds become autonomous like the quadcopters. It gives me shivers just thinking about it. Someone needs to alert John Connor.

Wednesday was all about kids building rockets. Tom Atchison, of Mavericks Civilian Space Foundation, told us the story of how his foundation is helping kids learn about space by building rockets. Kids. Building rockets. Man, where was this guys when I was a kid? You can check out the whole video here.

While I missed the usual special guest speaker, and another year of it not being Jessica Alba, what I did really enjoy was that all of the speakers were SolidWorks users. That was something that has been missing in past sessions. The ways that people are using SolidWorks excites me, makes me want to learn, and do, more.

I hope that at next year’s SWW, SolidWorks thinks a bit more about the attendees’ experience during the general sessions and helps the sponsors keep the energy levels high with exciting presentations and not boring, boardroom presentations.

That being said, man was it good being back at world. Thank you, SolidWorks, for the invite to SolidWorks World. I had a blast!

 

A CSWP at the CSWE Party

Posted on January 24th, 2013. Posted In SolidWorks Community

Sometimes life gives you lemons, other times it gives you Bacardi and coke. Monday, at SolidWorks World 2013, it gave me the latter.
I remember being bummed when I heard that there would no longer be a CSWP event at SolidWorks World. It had become too large, apparently. I’d have to say that it was SolidWorks’ fault for giving away the exam, but I’m just a bitter, old-school, 8-hour-exam-that-I-paid-for guy. Nonetheless, budgetary concerns meant scaling back the event. So, the certification team made the logical decision to have an event just for the CSWEs.
Me being me, I told Mike Puckett that I’d just crash the party, I’m press and we can go anywhere! Of course this was met with a resounding “no you can’t.” So much for that idea. Honestly, I understood but that didn’t stop me from giving Mike a bit of grief here and there. Mike is a good guy and took it in stride, knowing that I was just giving him a hard time. Tonight, Mike caught me off guard. I was planning on going back to my room to rest my weary feet when I saw him in the partner pavilion. He made me an offer: he’d invite me to the CSWE party if I would write about it and agree to earn my CSWE before SolidWorks World 2014. How could I say no? And that’s how a CSWP ended up at the CSWE party.
From what I understand, there were about 800 people at the CSWP event last year. Tonight, there were 250 people that attended, but only 200 were CSWE’s. The rest were VIPS’s of some standing and, of course, me.
As has become the norm for events such as this, there was plenty of food, beer and wine and, also as usual, the food was excellent. Honestly, I’m always amazed at how good the food is at the events where it’s such huge volumes cooked all at once and then served in warming trays over those candle things whose proper name escapes me (I seriously should go get a brain scan or something, my mind is turning to mush).
I’d say the only downside to the evening was the music. Too loud and, frankly, the band wasn’t that good. I wasn’t the only one to express that sentiment either. I can’t help but think that a DJ would be a better way to go. Ooh, karaoke! Now that would make for a fun event!
There was a race theme to this year’s event, so there were video game stations throughout, as well as an RC car track. Contrary to what Daniel Herzberg thought, they were quite easy to drive. He was actually so bad at it that I question his overall ability to drive and am thankful that I don’t live near him.
While the event was fun, I think they should look at something other than video games next year. Sumo wrestling? A dunk tank staffed by DS employees? We’ll be in San Diego, how about a surf machine?

SolidWorks World – Tuesday

Posted on January 22nd, 2013. Posted In SolidWorks Community

I’m quite sure that any number of bloggers and reporters will be talking about today’s general session and how SolidWorks has had a hand in designing Skynet and how our future robot overlords/killers have become aware. Where I feel like some sort of accomplice, I apologize. I also am not going to rehash the coolness that was the autonomous robot quadropters or the fact that a life-like robotic bird flew RIGHT OVER ME. I spent too much time tweeting to take good notes, and missed the press conference to go support Richard Doyle.
What I do want to talk about is all the coolness I’ve seen these past two days in the Partner Pavillion. I’ll have full-blown reviews coming in the next days and weeks, but here are some teasers:
– Mcor and their 3D Printer that uses paper and glue as their media.
– Boxx says they’re going to send me a machine comparable to the Xi I have at work to do a comparison. Hoping to talk them into a laptop to compare to my Dell.
– New info from Draftsight that I’ll be writing up.
– Totally cool tech from zSpace
– Hoping to get some more details from Keyshot
– SolidProfessor is sending me info on their new stuff
In a nutshell, Jeff’s Tool Shed is being brought back from the brink of death. Stay tuned!

Where to start…
As has become my custom, I was waiting in line for the general assembly early. I like to be up front for them, it’s just how I roll. Also, as usual, the energy was almost palpable. As the time grew near, and the crowd swelled, it started to get quite “cozy”. Thankfully, everyone around me was fastidious about personal hygiene.
I was able to get a seat in the front row and watch as the hall filled up. Eh, this is boring info. Let’s get to the meat of it.
Bertrand Sicot started us off with data points: 15th year, 4500 attendees, 2 million users, 25,000 schools teaching SolidWorks, etc. He then introduced my.solidworks.com. It’s an online community that is already full of info. I’m going to need to dig into it more to determine its worth.
Bertrand was followed by Bernard Charles, Dassault president and CEO, who, in my opinion, brought the excitement level way down. He spent way too much time discussing financials, investments and growth, in my opinion. His presentation was more for the boardroom. I think if it had been a very brief synopsis it may have been ok, but I ended up zoning out for a bit there.
Bertrand then showed us some cool ass designs done in SolidWorks. A 75mph sailboat, a face-changing watch (its face, not yours) and a bike made of cardboard.
The highlight, though, was the design team from Red Bull Stratos. They talked about the challenges they faced in designing the capsule, finding a suit, ensuring Felix’s safety, getting the capsule down. My two biggest takeaways were: One, if your suit fails above 61,000 feet, your bodily fluids start to off-gas. Essentially, you blow up. Two, 20 people on the ground heard a Human being break the sound barrier, without a vehicle. At least the pops they heard weren’t because Felix’s suit failed.

SolidWorks World ’13 – Go Pats,

Posted on January 21st, 2013. Posted In Personal,SolidWorks Community

It’s Sunday at SolidWorks World 2013 and I’m well rested and not hung over. Considering the day I had yesterday, that actually started Friday, I’m doing well. It’s probably a blessing in disguise that a certain CAD journalist from England was unable to make the trip.
Today is an easy day for most people. There are those who have signed up for roundtable discussions, or are Dassault employees that have to work, but most people just need to register and explore. For me, I’ll be spending a couple of hours with my parents; They spend the winter down here and we’re going to lunch.after lunch, some rest and then the Patriots game. It’s now Monday, and I’m in mourning.
I’m really looking forward to tomorrow and the first general meeting. They’re always exciting!

SolidWorks World 2013 – Prologue

Posted on January 18th, 2013. Posted In Personal,SolidWorks Community

I’m sitting at gate C9 at Seattle-Tacoma international airport waiting to board my red-eye flight to Orlando, and the magical time that is SolidWorks WorldThis yearbit more special for two reasons. One, I missed last year due to family reasons. Two, is a personal, but highly important reason. Important enough that I brought a button down shirt. No, it has nothing to do with a job.

Moving on…I only have one employee interview lined up, but I’m meeting with a few vendors with my sights set on a few more. I’ll be attending some breakout sessions this year as well, which is something I haven’t been able to do as often as I’d like. I’mreally looking forward to seeing Richard Doyle’s presentation on surfacing.

I have to admit that I feel a bit out of touch this year. It’s like missing a year through me off somehow. Relationships that I’d developed with DS employees, with the partner channel and with fellow users and bloggers didn’t get recharged last year. There will be excessive amounts of handshakes this year to make up for last year.

I have to say that I thoroughly enjoy people watching at the airport. The cross-section of humanity that you get to see never ceases to amaze me. I’m just hoping the couple with the two young, screaming, children know about benedryl, or I’m going to be a zombie tomorrow when I’m driving to Vero Beach.

If you’re on twitter, be sure to follow me for my incessant tweets from Orlando. You can find me @jeffmirisola. I’ll be blogging as often as possible, too. And, if you’re going to be there, be sure to say hi if you see me!

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