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!