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

Al Dean – Develop3D’s Master Scribe

Posted on March 26th, 2011. Posted In Interview

 It wasn’t until I joined Twitter in July of ’08 that I first became aware of Alistar Dean. How this was even possible is beyond me. Al is one of those people who, upon meeting him for the first time, you know you will never forget. If asked to describe him, I would say he’s an uneven mix of father, scholar, punk and geek. I say uneven as I believe the mixture changes depending on environment. Perhaps ‘chameleon’ would be a more apt description? No matter, it is the sum of these parts that makes up the incredible Human being that is Al Dean.

[…Read More…]

Dear SolidWorks & 3Dconnexion,

Posted on April 21st, 2009. Posted In Rant,SolidWorks Community

Can you guys please get together and fix the issue I’m having with my SpacePilots? The need to have the tool I want to map to my buttons on an active toolbar is ridiculous. One of my favorite things in SolidWorks is the fact that I don’t need to clog my graphics area with toolbars. I like having my space! When I got this SpacePilot PRO, I was beside myself with joy. I LOVE new technology and dove right in. Then I got bit. My button mappings wouldn’t work; not even the default mappings. I uninstalled/reinstalled the 3Dconnexion software to no avail. I called 3Dconnexion’s tech support and was told about the whole toolbar thing. I’d forgotten about that tidbit of information when I was having problems with my SpacePilot last fall. The “solution” I was given was to populate a macro toolbar with the commands I wanted to map to my buttons. Seriously? What is it about the coding in SolidWorks that’s preventing me from being able to use the buttons as designed? Where is the disclaimer telling SolidWorks users about this shortcoming? Are any other CAD packages effected this way? Another thing is the whole ‘S’ key thing. That I can get to map to a button, but it won’t stay mapped. Why is that?

Don’t get me wrong, I think the SpacePilot PRO is great. It’d be even better if it worked like it should. With all the software gurus at SolidWorks and 3Dconnexion, you think they’d be able to solve this issue. While I’m at it, can we talk about the default drivers? Is it absolutely necessary to load drivers for every CAD software under the sun by default? I don’t use AutoCAD, Maya or any of the other offerings. It seems to me that, when installing the drivers, you should be given the choice of what to load versus having to go through the custom setup. It just doesn’t make sense, in my humble opinion.


A frustrate, yet hopeful user.



When was the last time you meandered over to 3D ContentCentral? Have you ever been there? Whenever people jump onto one of the forums looking for a model, 3D ContentCentral is where they’re inevitably sent. Why? Because there’s over 500,000 CAD users registered. If each of them has contributed just 2 models, that’s a million models to choose from. Granted, not everyone contributes. But there are prolific posters, as well. Per Nielson has contributed a total of 306 parts since he joined. It goes beyond individual users though. The list of supplier created content is quite impressive as well. Did I mention that there are 2D blocks and macros available as well?

One of the best things about 3DContentCentral is that it’s not just for us SolidWorks users. The models are available in all major 2D and 3D CAD formats, including Autodesk Inventor and AutoCAD. This allows for sharing across industries and, in some cases, companies. Dassault Systmes has also added self-publishing to the site making it easier for suppliers to upload their parts and assemblies without the use of third-party applications. This means even more content for you!

With the popularity of social networks (Facebook, Twitter), Dassault has added social networking to 3D ContentCentral as well. You can build communities to share experiences and knowledge. Some of the key features, as described by Dassault, are:

  • My Updates: Automatically keeps users up to date on everyone in their community of contacts. For example, it notifies a user when a contact uploads a new 3D model, or contributes a comment to an online discussion.
  • Favorites: Lets users track specified users and parts catalogs without inviting them to become a contact.
  • Rate and Comment: Enables users to collaboratively evaluate model quality and share their experiences with one another.
  • Requesting: Gives users a direct channel to suppliers so they can ask for modifications and new designs.
  • Maps to Suppliers: Google Maps integration in the search options helps users find the nearest component suppliers and OEMs.
  • Advanced Search Tools: Helps users find content more efficiently using guided navigation.

Even with all the new features that Dassault has implemented, the best part about it is you don’t have to rebuild the wheel, as it were. If it’s an off-the-shelf item, there’s a pretty good chance you’re going to find it at 3D ContentCentral.

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