What is your title?
Vice President, User Experience Architecture for Dassault Systemes, SOLIDWORKS R&D
What, exactly, does that mean?
Ultimately, it means that I, and my team, have responsibility for all user facing aspects of the software that we deliver from SOLIDWORKS R&D. Our goal is to ensure we provide the best user experience to our users. Some characteristics that we feel contribute to a good user experience are that the software should be easy to learn, easy to use, consistent, and fun to use. In my role, I manage three major areas: user experience design, technical documentation, and localization. User experience design, led by Tom Spine whom you know within my team, includes researching user needs, designing the user interface and interaction with the software, creating all of the graphics for the software, and performing usability testing to make sure we are delivering the best experience. Technical documentation not only includes the team that writes the end user documentation but also develops the methods by which it is delivered; in our case, in addition to standard local installed delivery methods, we provide our own custom internet based web help system. Our localization team ensures high quality localization of our user interface and documentation into the 13 other languages that we support in addition to English, so customers around the world all experience a great user experience. The user experience team works hand in hand with our product definition, development, and quality assurance teams to deliver the best software possible for our users.
Where did you come from?
I’m a local New England boy. I grew up in Topsfield, MA, for which the only claim to fame is that it is the home of the oldest “agricultural” fair in America. Having lived in MA yourself, you’ve probably been to the fair. For college, I went to Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and got a BS and MS in manufacturing engineering (MFE). I actually started as an ME, EE double major because I knew since high school that I wanted to work in either robotics or CAD for a living. In my second year, they started the MFE program where I could take classes in ME, EE, CS, and management, which was perfect for my goals, so I switched to that major. My real education was working in the WPI CAD Lab; 2 years as a “proctor” as an undergraduate and 2 years in graduate school as the teaching assistant for the lab. I was able to teach ComputerVision CADDS 4X and Aries Technology software and that was when I really got hooked on being in the CAD industry. I think I’m one of the few people that actually planned to be in this industry. After graduate school, I worked for Aries Technology (later acquired by MSC Software), first in technical support for 6 months, and then in the training department for 2 years, writing training manuals and teaching classes on solid modeling and FEA pre and post processing. Then SOLIDWORKS came around and I thought, why does the world need another CAD system; who can possibly compete with PTC? A couple of people from Aries had moved to SOLIDWORKS, so I sent a resume to a friend to test the waters in December 1995. The next day, Scott Harris brought me in for an interview. I was blown away by the software demo and people at the company and thought, OK, the world DOES need another CAD system! The next day I had an offer and the rest is history.
How long have you been with Dassault?
I started in January 1996, so just over 18 years. As I mentioned, I had interviewed in Dec 1995, but I was in the process of buying my first new house and was afraid the mortgage wouldn’t come through if I switched to an unknown startup company in the middle of the process. So I somehow convinced Scott to delay my start date by a month, which was not an easy feat since I know of at least one other person who interviewed on Thursday, had the job offer on Friday, and started on Saturday! This was a great, fun time, but extremely challenging. Talk about life changes. I was married in September, bought a house in December, and moved to a startup company in January where I was working 14 hours a day, 7 days a week. But we all worked this hard because we wanted to, not because we had to. I’m so thankful that my wife stood by me through those early years with long hours. My first job at SOLIDWORKS was starting the technical support department and hiring an extremely talented group of individuals, many of whom have had a huge influence on SOLIDWORKS; Aaron Kelly, Ian Baxter, and Fielder Hiss to name a few. I later took over the Product Definition department from Scott Harris when he moved on to other initiatives. At the time, product definition was also responsible for the UI design of the software and that was my primary passion. As the software was getting bigger and more diverse, I saw that we had many “cooks in the kitchen” and it was starting to become inconsistent. Usability was an up and coming field in software and as UI was my passion, I spun off the “usability group” within R&D to make sure we stuck to our roots and continued to make the easiest to use software in the CAD world. We later changed the name of the group to user experience and merged technical documentation and localization into the group.
When did design become important to you?
I think it has always been important to me and includes many different forms of design. As examples, in elementary school, my brother and I used to buy used, beater BMX bikes and totally refurbish them, stripping the paint off, repainting them, and redoing all of the mechanicals. I’ve been tinkering with bicycles ever since. My latest major bike project was converting one of my single speed track bikes to a belt drive which requires the rear end to be redesigned to mount the belt (since a belt can’t be split like a chain, you have to split the frame instead to install/remove the belt). Since junior high school, I’ve always had a passion for working on automobiles and boats as well. Starting with helping a buddy rebuild a 1977 Jeep CJ5, to owning a 1971 Pontiac Lemans Sport in high school, to owning and restoring a 1971 Triumph TR6, and of course there was the SOLIDWORKS Factory Five roadster project we did a few years ago where I lead the brakes and suspension team. My current projects are a 1974 Jeep CJ5 V8, which is completely in pieces in my garage, and a 1970 Century Buccaneer inboard boat which needs the floor rebuilt and a bunch of mechanical work. I plan to do a lot of custom work on each of those projects, designing both mechanical and electrical parts for each. On the other end of the design spectrum, in junior high school, I had a TI 99/4A computer and I used to design and implement elaborate graphical welcome screens for games, although I never got to programming the actual games since the welcome screens used up all the memory! I also used to take the profile side shots of sports cars shown on a grid in Road & Track magazine and write little programs to map them into coordinates and vector line work so I could print out large versions of them to put on my wall. In high school, after 3 years of computer programming classes, they had no curriculum for our senior year “honors” computer class since we had run out of programming languages to learn. At first, we were given the task of programming the grading system for the school on one of the two IBM PC’s they had at the school. Then they took the computer away to give it to the counseling department, so we were told to make up our own curriculum. I got the computer and drafting instructors together and told them I wanted to redo my freshman year drafting course on the computer. They had an Apple 2E with some sort of 2D CAD program and an A size plotter and that is when I got hooked on CAD.
What is it about SolidWorks that you enjoy the most?
The community. And when I say the community, I mean every aspect of it. The people at SOLIDWORKS, SOLIDWORKS World, local user conferences, visiting users in person at their facilities, interacting with users online in the user forum, our VARs, and the list goes on and on. We have the most passionate community around SOLIDWORKS and it makes it extremely satisfying to come to work every day. It’s amazing to work with customers and see what they are doing with our software. Not only is the community aspect important as it relates directly to work, but Dassault Systemes and SOLIDWORKS really support their employees in helping the community in other ways. For instance, you probably know that I’ve been leading our Team Dassault Systemes charity cycling initiative for 13 years now. This is something that members of the team do in our spare time outside of work, and it brings together all sorts of members of the Dassault Systemes community around the world to raise money for various charities. We even have a team that rides the Minnesota MS150 every year that is composed completely of SOLIDWORKS end users, their families and friends. They loved SOLIDWORKS software so much, they started that initiative on their own back in 2007, riding in SOLIDWORKS shirts that they hand made themselves with t-shirts and magic markers. That is just one example of our passionate community!
What’s your proudest career moment?
There are so many great moments that I can’t say there is one proudest moment. I would say that I take the most pride in building talented teams, mentoring employees and watching them grow throughout their career. It is also extremely satisfying to hear how much users love our software and it makes me proud when I design something that really helps users to be more productive in their work, such as UI elements like the context toolbars or the shortcut bar (the “s key”). We know our software isn’t perfect and we continue to strive to make it better and better each year and I’m proud to say that our user experience team is leading the charge to make sure that continues to happen.
Can you share some of the crazy ideas that have been tossed about over the years?
Most of the crazy ideas have actually made it into the product, just in a less crazy form. I think that we put the craziest ideas together back before we developed SolidWorks 2008. We really wanted to change our user interface to be much more efficient and differentiate it from our competitors since we were all marching along to Windows standards. Back then, we had some user interface ideas and prototypes that tried to maximize the graphics area and minimize the UI. So all of the UI elements were around the edges of the screen and would fly out when you clicked or hovered over them. I still have that prototype and use it as one example of our UI prototyping methods at user group meetings and in other presentations. In the end, that prototype inspired the heads-up view toolbar, the task pane that auto-hides when unpinned on the right hand side, and the ability to hide away the manager area on the left hand side.
How about some of the ones that didn’t work out quite as planned?
There are always some projects that you wished worked out better. Some of the UI concepts that we implemented in drawings had some rough starts, like the dimension palette and some of the other dimensioning controls. Most of the time, we get those types of things optimized through usability and beta testing, but those dimension tools stand out as ones that we didn’t quite get into optimal shape until one or two service packs into the new release. The magnifying glass is another one that doesn’t yet meet its full potential. That was one of my ideas for solving the problem of selecting very small items without having to zoom the entire viewport. So, the whole UI and interaction was optimized for being a momentary selection tool and therefore it’s not optimized for other workflows for which you may need a magnifying glass, like inspecting various area of a model. It’s also not discoverable. I know there are some users that love it, but I think it’s probably a small percentage of users who even know it exists.
Where do you see SolidWorks heading in the next five years?
We are quite a mature product so much of the functionality that users need is already there, except maybe in certain vertical functional areas. So I see us continuing to round out the functionality and extend the breadth of the product as we have been in recent years. One thing that SOLIDWORKS has always been good at is not being afraid to go back and revisit existing functionality to improve it, even if in some cases, it means totally revamping the functionality. One example is the equations functionality that we totally revamped. It took us a couple of releases, but for a long time it was an area that wasn’t fully developed, and we are still continuing to make improvements to it. For the rest of the functionality that is already there, I see us continuing to really optimize the interaction and user interface and adding more “delighters.” This is where the passion really lies for me and the rest of my group. Of course, we are also working on our 3DEXPERIENCE Platform based products as well, and our main SOLIDWORKS product also benefits from that work. Those new products act as a sandbox where we can play with new ideas, prove them out, and then if they work out really well, we can also put those ideas into the core SOLIDWORKS product. Just one example is the mate context toolbar that we added in SOLIDWORKS 2014. That was initially implemented in SOLIDWORKS Mechanical Conceptual and everyone liked it so much, we did the same thing in the main SOLIDWORKS product.
How important is user input?
User input is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT. While the current trend in group and title names is “user experience,” the field that we really study and practice is called “user centered design.” That means the user is at the center of all that we do. We work hand in hand with our product definition team to perform user research that helps us determine what projects to implement and the specifics of what the users need from that functionality. The enhancement system is an important aspect of that, but so are customer visits, phone calls, surveys, reading the forums and blogs, etc. We then make sure we are getting user input during our design and implementation phases which include spec reviews and usability testing of prototypes or early code. Finally, we make sure that we perform usability, Alpha, and Beta testing as early as possible so we can take the user feedback and adjust our designs and implementations before final release. Without user input “we are just breathing our own exhaust” as is commonly stated.
If your team was thoroughly convinced that a change was needed, and there was major pushback from the user community, would you listen?
Of course. We will only be as successful as our users are successful with the software, so it makes no sense to not pay attention to such feedback. And there have been many times that we get pushback from our users and we adjust the software based on that feedback/pushback. Again, the goal is to get that feedback as early in the process as possible so we can hopefully get the optimal design in place by the release of the software. I think that SolidWorks 2008 was the release where we got the most amount of pushback and we expected that. We were making MAJOR changes to the user interface. Users are generally opposed to change and there is no faulting that. Change requires re-learning and is a speed bump for end users. It was a gamble, but we truly believed that our designs would make the user more efficient. I think that has proven to be true. Have you tried to go back and use a pre-2008 version lately? If you have you’ll probably agree that it is much more difficult to use as compared to post-2008 versions.
Marie, and her husband David, have done much to help SOLIDWORKS users learn SOLIDWORKS over the years with the books they’ve written. These days, Marie works for SOLIDWORKS, having been there for the last nine years as the Director of Education Community, SOLIDWORKS. If it is a SOLIDWORKS product in virtually any educational institute, then Marie is responsible for the curriculum. And certification. And scholarships. In other words, she’s busy. Prior to coming to SOLIDWORKS, Marie was the Engineering Department Chair at Massachusetts Bay College and was responsible for STEM outreach. Prior to that she worked in robotics at Zymark and at Prime Computer/Computervision. [...Read More...]
Anyone who has been a part of the SOLIDWORKS community for any length of time probably knows of Mike. Some of us remember when he was just a humble blogger before he was beamed up to the SOLIDWORKS mothership to join the certification team. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who was jealous of this, not that I’m holding a grudge. I mean he deserved it, I guess. It’s not like I was in the running for the position. Hell, I didn’t even know about the position. You’d think, though, that I would have at least been asked if I was interested…oh, look, a butterfly. [...Read More...]
This interview has been a long time coming. I first reached out to Mark back in September, but I didn’t mark his response and it got buried. I apologized to Mark for my disorganization. He, graciously, accepted my apology. Without further ado, let’s learn about Mr. Mark Lyons.
Mark grew up in Marlboro, Massachusetts as one of 10 kids in a blended family. Home life, as one might imagine, was a bit chaotic. He loved sports, focusing on baseball, had three paper routes and spent whatever free time he had at the Marlboro Boys & Girls club or fishing. One of his most vivid memories was when he was 15 and playing on a travelling basketball team. They went to play against another team out of Cambridge who had a player that stood 6′ 11″ at 15-years old. This player constantly knocked Mark’s shot attempts, sending them into the stands. Mark’s team lost to the Cambridge team and their star player, Patrick Ewing, that day.
Mark attended Assabet Valley Vocational High School with plans on learning printing. His family had a print shop in town and he planned on joining the family business. Part of the curriculum at Assabet required that students look at other trades and one of those happened to be drafting. Turns out, Mark was pretty good at it and opted for drafting as career.
After graduating from high school, he opted to join the workforce forgoing college. He worked began working at Hypertronics in Hudson, MA. His quick promotion to Drafting Department Supervisor, at the tender age of 18, was proof that he’d made the right decision.
From Hypertronics, he moved on to Digital Equipment and Prime Computer. Both of whom offered education reimbursement, which afforded Mark the opportunity to go to night school for Mechanical Engineering. Quite the go-getter, Mr. Lyons. It was also at these companies that he was got his first taste of CAD. Unigraphics and then Prime Medusa.
Mark’s career took off at this point. He went to work as a Senior Mechanical Designer at Bose. He worked designing speaker housings for automobiles, mainly supporting GM. His designs could be found in Cadillac, Camaro, Olds, Mercedes and Mazda. At the time, circa 1988, Bose hadn’t moved to CAD. Mark helped change that, though it was a bit before they were using a 3D package (Unigraphics). Being able to truly design in 3D Mark was moved around to various teams to design. He created designs for the first generation noise cancelling headphones as well as the Wave Radio.
The next natural step for Mark was to give back. Assabet recruited him to teach drafting. Talk about coming full circle, eh? He started teaching manual drafting, the AutoCAD. He spent 10 years teaching, getting the school involved in the FIRST robotics program while he was at it. During his off time, Mark had started playing golf, becoming quite good at it. He left teaching and went to work in the golf industry, as a player and teacher. After trying it for a time, he returned to teaching at Bay Path Tech in Charlton, MA. Again, teaching drafting in both AutoCAD and SolidWorks. Three years later, a position opened up at SolidWorks and Mark took it. In his words, he is “the 2D guy”. He is the DraftSight Training Specialist. He creates training material for Draftsight and loves it.
In his down time, Mark loves to spend time with his wife and kids. He also enjoys golfing, fishing and watching the New England Patriots. That, alone, makes him a-ok in my book.
Picture stolen from 3ds.com.
One of the things I enjoy about SolidWorks World is seeing all the technology out there that one can use with SolidWorks, be it hardware or software. Leading up to the show, I was contacted by Julie Reece, the Director of Marketing for Mcor Technologies. Unlike most marketing people who ask me if I’d be interested in looking at their product, Julie made it quite apparent that I didn’t have a choice in the matter lest I suffer severe bodily harm. (I suppose, too, it might be because I’ve known Julie for a few years now from her days at Z-Corp that I agreed. Plus, I was hoping to score some cool swag.) It was a solid 30 minute interview that I recorded so I would be able to write a comprehensive article. Sadly, my iPhone picked up all the background noise as well, rendering the vast majority of the recording useless. Nonetheless, I’ll shall do my best.
I met with Dr. Conor MacCormack, Co-Founder and CEO of Mcor. Conor and his brother, Fintan, started Mcor in 2005 with the goal of creating an easy-to-use, low cost, full color 3D printer that used stable and readily available materials. They felt, too, that the offerings that were on the market were not environmentally friendly, were expensive and used unstable consumables. They also didn’t want to design such a printer but have it be so expensive that its price point was too high, so they chose a price they wanted to be at and designed to that. From that was born the Matrix and Iris printers.
The media used in these printers is paper. Like the kind you can just go down to Office Depot and get. Regular old letter size paper. The skull you see above? Made from Paper. If that’s not eco-friendly, I don’t know what is. “What about the binding agent?” you ask? Slightly modified white, eco-friendly, glue. Should the need arise you can pour it down the drain, though I don’t know why you’d ever have to. Seriously, why would you need to pour it down the drain? I suppose if you caught your kid dipping fruit in it or…sorry, I digress.
The way that it works is pretty simple. The software cuts your model into paper-thin slices. Each of these slices are then printed on the aforementioned paper. The printer is a standard printer, using Mcor’s proprietary ink. This ink doesn’t just sit on the paper, it permeates it so that your 3D print doesn’t have white lines through it. You then load all the printed sheets into the 3D printer and it takes over from there. Should you drop any of the pages, they’re all numbered so you can realign it all. The printer, too, will recognize if the pages are out of whack and will stop printing. After each page is added, the platen rises up to press it to the existing pages. The blade then cuts the outline of the part and creates cuts outside of the part so you can easily remove the excess material. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. After a few hours, you have your part to play with. Their envelope is 9.4″L x 6.9″W x 5.9″H. You can put multiple prints together to create larger models, using the same glue. With x, y, z resolution of .0004″, .0004″, .004″ and 1,000,000 + colors, those models can be pretty impressive.
Mcor is also in partnership with Staples Office Centre, offering 3D printing to the masses. It would seem to be a strictly European partnership as I couldn’t find anything here on this side of the ocean. Just another case of trying to keep the colonies down, I suppose.
Conor, Fintan, and their team have come up with something pretty cool here. The printers have the ability to produce living hinges, full-color prototypes, and cool models, all in a desktop package. Well, that may be a bit of a stretch. It will fit on a desktop, but you’d want to use the table that comes with the printer. The prints can be sealed and sanded to better improve the resolution and to protect them from water. The examples they had on display were impressive, having been created with paper. The $30,000 price tag on the Iris isn’t too bad, comparatively speaking, but the consumables costs are lower than any others.
Am I sold on Mcor? I certainly like what they can do and I also like that they’re environmentally friendly. Their printing capabilities are on par with other companies out there. Their price point is very good, which should keep ROI on the short side. Taking all that into consideration, yes, I’m sold.
Since I started becoming more involved in the SolidWorks community, I’ve had the opportunity to meet a lot of interesting people. Just a couple of weeks ago, I got to meet another.
I’d first heard of Bob Jensen when I sent out an email to our local user group trying to drum up people interested in talking with a SolidWorks employee that was going to be coming through town. Bob responded, and I remember being intrigued by his story. Fast forward a bit, and I was telling my most excellent girlfriend how I was having a bit of trouble coming up with mesmerizing topics for my blog with which to keep my readers coming back. She suggested finding people who were doing unusual things and, voila, Bob came to mind. A few well placed bribes got me his email address and an extremely well-crafted email got Bob to agree to meet with me.
A bit of background on Bob. He owns a local burger chain called Burgermaster. His father started it back in 1952 and they now have five restaurants. They’re like the drive-ins of old: pull up, read the menu, turn on your lights when you’re ready, food served on a tray hanging off your window. All that’s missing is the cute girls on roller skates…
Anyway, Bob had been using DesignCAD for over 20 years when he decided he wanted to be able to do more. He jumped online and found Autodesk Inventor, so he contacted a local Autodesk reseller and headed downtown for a 4 hour seminar. This was his first real exposure to 3D CAD and the parametric world. During the presentation Bob heard the phrase “it’s just like SolidWorks” numerous times, prompting him to write down ‘SolidWorks’. After the presentation, he obtained a demo version of Inventor to try it out at home. He was less than impressed and turned to the internet to find out about SolidWorks. He found a local reseller (CAE NorthWest, now Hawk Ridge) and went to see one of their presentations. Impressed, he asked for a demo and took it home. He was hooked. He bought a seat of SolidWorks Premium.
Bob then turned his sights on a project he had at one of his restaurants. He needed to redesign the kitchen for efficiency as it was one of his busier stores and the kitchen was just too cramped. So, he spent the next year learning SolidWorks, via reseller and private lessons, and designing the new kitchen. He knew a contractor would want to shut the restaurant down, spend exorbitant amounts of money and continually push out the completion date. This would work for Bob.
After designing the kitchen, he designed the plan to renovate it. He rented a storage unit and started prefabbing the components for the kitchen with uni-strut and sheetmetal with his maintenance guy. They’d then go into the kitchen after closing and install the panels. They built out a new wall so that the electricians could come in and begin the re-wiring, all of which Bob had laid out with routing. Then, on a Monday night, Bob and his team rolled into the restaurant and completed the whole renovation in 12 hours. They doubled the kilowatt output, improved the efficiency and and lessened the work needed to complete orders. Bob spent a total of $120,000 on the renovation, including the cost of SolidWorks and a dump trailer. By his estimate, he saved $180,000 by not having a contractor come in and do the work. With that one job, SolidWorks had paid for itself many times over.
Since that time, Bob has continued designing with SolidWorks. Some of the things he’s designed include fixtures and serving stations for his restaurants, a barn and, his house. A bit of a segue here, Bob wanted his house built out of SIPs Panels. After finishing the design, he met with the company that would panelize the house and gave them the plans. They then provided him with three sheets of prints for all the panels. He went home, took their 2D panel drawings and put them into SolidWorks. In doing so, he found numerous errors. When he met with the company again, he pulled out his laptop and showed them the errors, much to their dismay. The owner, upon seeing the power of 3D, went out and bought SolidWorks. Tell me that’s not awesome!
A salad bar & his house:
What struck me most about Bob was his incredible passion; not only for SolidWorks, but for design. Here’s a guy who grew up in the restaurant industry yet is an engineer at heart. He’s extremely detail oriented, conscientious about the environment and always looking for ways to improve things around him. Bob spoke for almost an hour with such passion and, I suspect, had I not had to go he would still be talking.
Thank you, Bob, for sharing your passion.
Do you know anyone like Bob? If so, I’d love to talk to them!
With my crap-tastic memory I can’t remember when I first met Matt, but I do know it was out on the internet. Matt’s been an active member of the SolidWorks community for years contributing in the various fora out there and through his blog, SolidWorks Legion.
Matt was a very driven teenager, unlike many of today’s youth. This drive had him graduating high school at 16 with his career path already figured out. He went to a Silicon Valley trade school, on a full scholarship, to learn Mechanical Drafting. By the time he was 18, he’d graduated and was a Document Control Clerk. For some reason, I’m picturing him in plaid high-waters, short-sleeved button-down shirt and black-framed glasses…
As time progressed, he drafted less and designed more. From there it became more engineering than design. Eventually, someone pinned the title ‘Engineer’ to him and it stuck. Like me, he didn’t relish the title but couldn’t shake it off either. C’est la vie.
As Matt’s career continued to grow, he began participating in the SolidWorks community. Initially he was looking for tips and tricks, macro and anything else that could help him streamline his designs. As has happened to others, he was inexplicably driven to start a SolidWorks based website, which then morphed into his blog. Matt has remained a fixture in the SolidWorks community since then. He’s also had the opportunity to attend SolidWorks World as a customer, a presenter, a member of the press and as an employee. He’s pretty much covered all the bases.
These days find Matt on the other side of the design plate, designing the design software. Frankly, I think that is friggin’ cool, especially where Matt is a long time user of SolidWorks. It gives him a unique perspective on things and which will translate into some new or improved functionality in drawings. If you’ve seen any of the drawing improvements in 2013, you can thank Matt for them.
Outside of work, Matt is still exploring his new digs on the east coast. That’s all I could get out of him, though it could be all that he does…
Picture stolen from Charles Culp via the SolidWorks Forums.
While he never mentioned anything about Vegemite sandwiches, there’s no doubting Michale Lord’s roots. He was born in Fairfield, New South Whales, Australia, a suburb of Sydney, so one can only assume that said sandwiches are part of his daily caloric intake. I mean it’s either Vegemite or shrimp on the barbie in Australia, right?
By his recollection, he started building things around the age of 9 or 10. He was always modifying bikes or building billy carts (what we Americans call soapbox cars). He also enjoyed damming up the creek by his house and then blowing it up with fireworks. Like so many of us, Michael also enjoyed taking things apart to see how they worked, such as clocks. Also like many of us, they never went back together. There were also the mandatory experiments with electricity (240V, not our wimpy 110V). By ‘experiment’, I mean he removed switch covers and then got zapped by it. Isn’t that how we all learned?
Michael figures his interest in design came about because of the era he grew up in (late 60′s/early 70′s). Couple the lunar landing with a neighbor who had stacks of Popular Mechanic magazines and another young boy was sucked into the glamorous world of design.
I’m a bit confused by the Australian education system, but what I am able to figure out is that Michael left school at 15 and got an apprenticeship in Carpentry and Joinery. It was assumed that he’d go on to college, having come in first in mathematics, technical drawing and woodwork, so his decision left many scratching their heads. However, Michael has no regrets. His career path eventually brought him (back) to Trakka Ply Limited, an Australian RV customizer, where he brought them into modern times by introducing them to AutoCAD and then to SolidWorks.
The switch to SolidWorks was, and I quote, “the start of the greatest change in both how we designed but also how we manufactured”. They used to have to wait for a vehicle to show up before they could begin measuring, etc. With SolidWorks, they’re able to get the vehicle files from the manufacturer and design everything prior to the vehicle arriving, saving tons of man hours in the process. They’ve also realized savings of floor space, in marketing costs and in build time.
In 2011, Michael made the trip to SolidWorks World as the winner of the SolidWorks World Correspondent Contest. It was something he absolutely didn’t expect as his entry was meant to entertain himself by ribbing his American friends. Well, Michael, the joke was on you…sort of.
Aside from traveling to SolidWorks World, Michael enjoys being the father of 20-year old triplets, playing around with SolidWorks, some chess and road trips. Sounds like a great life!
Picture stolen from http://blogs.solidworks.com.
Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to present the Masshole of the…huh? Oh, my bad. Allow me to present the 2011 User Group leader of the year, Edson Gebo. While I know he won this award well over a year ago, I couldn’t think of a better way to get ‘Masshole’ into the title. How did such an ugly, knuckle-dragging Masshole earn such an award? If Richard Doyle wasn’t such an honorable man, I’d assume blackmail or bribery on Ed’s part. Sadly, though, it must have been some sort of group psychosis. Nonetheless, Ed won the award and, because of this, I felt compelled to interview him.
Ed grew up in Spencer, Massachusetts, a small town about 40 miles west of Boston. While he was formally educated at Worcester Vocational and Worcester Industrial Technical Institute, most of his hands on common sense skills were taught to him by his father.
His first engineering job was at Heald Machine while he was attending Worcester Tech. Ed just loves mechanical design. In his words:
Being able to create something from a thought, idea, or a roundtable brainstorm session with others just rocks!!! Creating those ideas using SolidWorks in a digital form, using tools like DFM, Simulation, FEA, or 3D print SLA prototypes to improve the idea, create tool paths with Mastercam to machine the idea, and produce drawings so the idea can be assembled, is just wicked cool!
Ed spreads all of this passion around southern New England as a self-employed mechanical designer, working at various companies designing in SolidWorks and even helping them with their installs. If you’ve ever met Ed, you can probably imagine the positive attitude that he brings to each job and the lasting memory he leaves behind.
Ed’s love of SolidWorks is what drives his commitment to the SolidWorks community in New England. He’s the representative for the Eastern SolidWorks User Group Network, he’s an executive officer of ConnSWUG, he was co-chair of CMNC-SWUG and he was one of the guys behind the first NESWUC on 2009. If SolidWorks were a drug, Ed would be an addict. It was because of all of this that Ed was named the 2011 User Group leader of the year. As much as it pains me to say it, it was a well deserved award.
Outside of SolidWorks and designing, Ed loves spending time with his daughter, Brooke, as well as playing ice hockey, softball and golf. Naturally, being a Masshole, he’s an avid Red Sox, Patriots and Bruins fan.
All kidding aside, Ed is a very good man and someone I consider a friend. Thanks for taking the time to be another one of my victims, Ed.
Picture stolen from Twitter, where you can follow Ed at @edsonius.
Anyone who has been around SolidWorks for a while has probably heard of Lou Gallo. If you haven’t, you’d better head on over to SolidWorks:HEARD! after you’ve finished reading this.
Lou originally hails from the northwest suburbs of Chicago where he grew up playing hockey and risking life and limb doing the things we used to do as kids before video games took over childhoods. All of his death-defying stunts were tempered by erector sets, remote control cars and a grandfather who owned a machine shop. Additional, Grandpa Gallo also rebuilt an FM-2 Wildcat (see the actual plane here). These things obviously influenced Lou’s career path.
It wasn’t until college that Lou was bit by the CAD bug. He spent 7 years using Pro/E and CadKey before trying out SolidWorks in 1998. He moved to Arizona in 1999 to work in the semi-conductor industry, buying his first seat of SolidWorks from DDi. When the semi-conductor industry took a dive in 2001, Lou reached out to DDi for job contacts and ended up getting hired by them as a contractor. He’s been there for 10 years now and stays for the challenge. Lou enjoys helping users solve their problems. To be the best at it requires him to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to technology and Lou loves technology so he’s always on the cutting edge.
SolidWorks:HEARD! was born of Lou’s fascination with technology, specifically blogging technology and his want to deliver tips and news while on the go. He started recording in late 2005 and hasn’t stopped. He started doing a weekly show in January 2006 and continues because he loves it. Lou has done nearly 400 shows to date. The biggest challenge Lou faces is choosing topics related to SolidWorks that can be understood via audio, no easy task there. If the need arises, he has a blog to take things further.
All in all, Lou is the most prolific CAD podcaster that I know of. His casts have helped countless numbers of SolidWorks users and you should add yourself to that number if you haven’t already.