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 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

March 3, 2013 · Posted in Interview, SolidWorks Community  

Mcor_IRIS DSC_2928

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.

February 3, 2013 · Posted in Hardware Review, Interview, SolidWorks Community  

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!

November 11, 2012 · Posted in Interview, SolidWorks Community  

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.




September 21, 2012 · Posted in Interview, SolidWorks Community  

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



May 28, 2012 · Posted in Interview, SolidWorks Community  

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.

April 30, 2012 · Posted in Interview, SolidWorks Community  

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.


April 27, 2012 · Posted in Interview, SolidWorks Community  

Oh, God, this is daunting. How does one go about writing about someone like Josh Mings? He writes one of the most popular CAD blogs,, he’s half of the incredible Engineer vs. Designer, and he’s a Web Marketing Manager at Luxion. He also has over 3500 followers on Twitter. If I don’t do him justice, I could be ostracized by the CAD community. Y’know, I think I’ll just let Josh do the talking.

First, let’s get some background on you. Where does Josh Mings come from?
I hail from the great white north, Illinois, but the south part, where the corn and apples grow plentiful. So, I guess you could say, I come from a corn field… when strange enough, I spent plenty of time being drug through by an angry horse after some oats. That and thistles… what was the question?

How about education?
I went to a public school, got my nipples twisted my some mean high-schoolers, got into some fights and talked back to my parents enough to end up in a private school. First teacher I ever liked was there, inspiring me about traveling and making things. I was that strangely amalgamated basketball player/skateboard punk in highshool. Wrote a lot there and had plenty of encouragement to keep with that. Wanted to go to the Art Institute of Chicago to pursue architecture and model-making, but the ‘swiss-army’ knife degree I was cunningly persuaded by my parents to pursue, was mechanical engineering. I failed calculus while spending more time in the labs and building stuff. I ended up graduating, strange enough, with a mechanical engineering technology degree and a design technology degree. I’m partially through an MBA, but have put that off to actually run a business.

At what point in time did you realize you wanted to be an engineer?
I don’t think it was ever something that hit me in the face, but when my little brother threw a dirt clod that hit me in the face, I built a small fort, and from then on I’ve always been interested in not being hit by dirt clods. I think that’s a pretty common path most engineers go down.

Do you remember your first design? If so, what was it?
It was the dirt clod fort or the hay bail fort. After that the first ‘real’ design was a skateboard ramp. Research, concepts, testing, drawings… the whole bit. We ended up with a half-pipe that rocked the block.

When did you first come up with SolidSmack, and what prompted it?
I had been involved with the SolidWorks community to an extent since 96. However, I lost interest in that back in the cad.comp.solidworks days. I had a personal blog and wanted to do something along the lines of my interests, so I thought a blog on SolidWorks would be a cool idea. That was in 2007. I didn’t know about any other ‘cad blogs’ out there at the time. I remember deciding to do it, thinking of the name and designing the first logo in about an 30 minutes to get it up and going.

From what dark part of your mind do your ‘good morning’ sayings come from?
Ha! Yeeeeeaah. I don’t know man. It’s probably some slightly demented section of my brain, combined with early influences from Ren & Stimpy and lack of sleep. I refuse to check email first thing in the morning, so instead I vomit on paper, or in this case on twitter. By the way, you can find a lot of those here.

What, exactly, does a ‘Web Marketing Manager’ do?
Ok, so, a web marketing manager can be a lot of things. I take on anything having to do with the web. This includes anything from web development and SEO to blogging and tweeting. I see what’s effective, build on that and spread the good word. So, in my case it spans a lot, and mostly it revolves around me making a lot of noise.

You’re married with kids, where do you find the time to do your job, plus SolidSmack, plus Engineer vs. Designer?
I get up early, 5am to start the day usually.  I keep a tight todo list and fairly tight schedule, avoid the trap of email except for the occasional strategic bathroom breaks.

What does a typical day entail for you?
Get up at 5am. Have a little run/walk, tea and bible reading. I write posts immediately to get them done and schedule them througout the day. I’ll also look through my twitter lists, feeds and schedule tweets to go out throughout the day. I’ll have a quick look through email, answering back any and setting others as tasks. Then the day starts. From the web marketing side of things, I hit the social sites first, check Google alerts, answer comments, questions on forums and interact with users on Facebook and Twitter. I’ll check analytics, trends, adwords (not everyday) to see if there is any unusual activity and work on ways to grow incoming traffic and links. I’ll do a blog post, prep and plan others and communicate with users to do customer stories or find out more information about what they do. That’s usually the morning out of the way. Afternoons are spent on website optimization, SEO and searching out ways to engage users. I review my todo list mid-afternoon and knock-out anything that needs immediate attention, make some notes for the next day and prep whatever I can. Even with that tight a schedule, I can get overwhelmed with task, have rough days or get completely thrown off from travels.  On the weekends, I try to stay away from the computer (although lately that has been impossible.) On Sundays, I’ll wipe the slate, clear out my emails, mark all my feeds as read and start fresh.

You just won $1,000,000, what are you going to do?
If I had a million dollars, first I’d pay off the house. I hate debt and that’s a big one that’s always looming. After that, I’d give some out to my family and then do the boring thing and invest the rest… after I bought a Ducati and a racetrack of course.

Ok, so maybe I took the easy way out on this interview, but I just don’t know that I could have done Josh justice using my limited writing skills. Josh is undoubtedly one of the movers and shakers in the CAD community and I’m flattered that he took the time to answer my questions. Some day, when I grow up, I hope I can come up with awesome “good mornings” like his.

Picture stolen, but I can’t remember from where.

March 19, 2012 · Posted in Interview  

I really don’t think that Charles Culp needs and introduction, but I don’t want him to feel that I haven’t done him justice in this post about him so, without further ado…

Between his incredible amount of helpful posts on the SolidWorks’ forums, to his presentations at SolidWorks World to his website, Charles is a gift to the SolidWorks community. This assertion of mine was validated last month in San Diego when Charles was named the 2012 Michelle Pillars SWUGN Community Award recipient, an award he was quite deserving of.

How did Charles rise to such prominence? How did he become a recognized authority on SolidWorks, how to use it, and the best systems to use it on? To answer these questions, one needs to travel back in time to see a young Charles playing with his Legos. Follow this up with him building a fort in his basement. Notice, though, that he derives much more pleasure in building the fort than actually playing in it. Fast forward a bit to see a teenage Charles working with other like-minded teens as they competed in “Odyssey of the Mind”.

It was those early steps that led to Charles attending the University of Missouri – Rolla. Were it not for the astute observation of one of his frat brothers, Charles very well may have ended up as a chemical engineer. However, upon seeing Charles’ skills with 3D Studio Max, said frat brother commented on how Charles could always do that if he were to become a mechanical engineer. I, for one, would like to thank that nameless individual for setting Charles on that path. Who knows where Charles may have ended up had he become a chemical engineer.

As for his vast wealth of computer hardware knowledge, that began back when he helped his dad upgrade their 386 to a 486. From that point on, he built his own computers. While he did let himself slip a little on the knowledge after graduating, frustration with his work machine got him back into it. What he discovered was that most IT departments don’t know what to spec out for a workstation. Couple that with the fact that most assemblers will recommend the most expensive components, which aren’t necessarily the most correct, and you’ve got yourself a “perfect storm” of incompatibility. Now, however, Charles is there to help those of us who aren’t too good with such things to get the most bang for our buck.

These days finds Charles working at Essex Industries where he was recently promoted to Team Lead – Aerospace Components & Aircraft Controls. He designs pilot controls for such planes as the F-frigging-22. How cool is that? Even with that, Charles still finds the time to be one of the most prolific posters on the SolidWorks forums as well as running SWTuts, a user-contributed SolidWorks tutorial website that is filled with all manner of tutorials. Do yourself a favor and check it out. Better yet, do others a favor and submit a tutorial to help out your fellow users!

March 5, 2012 · Posted in Interview  

As all of you, my loyal readers, know, I went home to the Boston area back in August. As has become my habit, I arranged a visit to SolidWorks with the hope of interviewing some of the employees, as well as getting a glimpse of 2012. How surprised was I when Kristen informed me that I could get time with Bertrand Sicot, SolidWorks’ CEO? Honestly, I was more intimidated than surprised. I’m hardly the caliber interviewer that Bertrand is probably used to, but I figured what the hell, the worst that can happen is a restraining order, right?

In the days leading up to my visit to SolidWorks, I tried to come up with deep, meaningful questions, ones that would cause him to pause and think before replying. My goal was to give you, the reader, more insight into Bertrand the man, not Bertrand the CEO. Well, at least I had a goal…

As most of you know, Bertrand became CEO of SolidWorks back in January of this year, though he was far from a newbie at SolidWorks. I’m not going to rehash his bio, though. If you’re interested in it, you can find it here. In speaking with him, I could tell how much he enjoyed working, and being CEO. He likened the past 8 months to two days. Given that this implied that he was having fun as CEO, I asked him if it was as much fun now as it was when he started in ’97. He agreed that it was, but in a different manner. That makes sense as, back in ’97, SolidWorks wasn’t much more than a startup and it is now a 1,000 employee, $500,000,000 company.Bertrand believes in being an easily accessible CEO, employing an “open door” policy, as evidenced by his willingness to meet with me. He realizes that SolidWorks’ success hinges more on the people, customers and employees, versus the processes. Without the former, the latter is pointless.

Bertrand’s path to the corner office started off innocently enough. He got his degree in engineering and ended up at IBM after his military service. It was at IBM that it was suggested that Bertrand go into sales. Incredulous, Bertrand declared that he was “an engineer”. However, Bertrand ended up taking the advice and has not looked back since. Coming from a mechanical engineering background has only aided him as his sales career progressed. He ended up leaving IBM, going to Computervision and then ending up at SolidWorks.

My biggest takeaway from my meeting with Bertrand was he appears to be very down-to-Earth and quite realistic. While we wait to see how his leadership effects SolidWorks, my gut says it’ll be ok. I do think that we’ll see more of an influence from Dassault Systemes, but I’m optimistic that the impact won’t be negative. Perhaps I’m being naive, but I believe that Bertrand is a SolidWorks employee before a Dassault employee and will work to keep the SolidWorks’ core values intact.

Picture stolen from


October 9, 2011 · Posted in Interview, SolidWorks Community  

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