Monday Morning’s General Session

Monday Morning’s General Session

I woke up around dawn this morning and hustled over to Caesar’s (I’m actually stationed at Bally’s Hotel across the road) so as not to miss the 7:30AM breakfast but nearly did anyway. Hundreds of SolidWorks World conference attendees swarmed like bees around two enormous tables laden with fruits and pastries. I keep hearing how big this event is, and when I see food disappear like this, I believe it.

(Side Note: I’m posting on the morning after, so regardless of the date on this post, you’re reading about Monday.)

After breakfast was the 8:30-10AM General Session, where SolidWorks executives and keynote speakers address attendees. The room was packed and finding a seat was hard work. Jeff Ray, chief operating officer of SolidWorks was the first onstage to welcome us, talk about the conference in general, and remind everyone not to drink and drive at off-site event at the Los Vegas Speedway on Tuesday night. You get an wristband after you sign a waiver to drive. If you get a drink, the wristband comes off.

Jeff brought on to stage Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage, the two gentlemen who host the popular television show “Mythbusters,” where the goal is to rebuff or prove urban legends such as dropping a penny from the top of the Empire State building can kill a person down below and answering your at a gasoline pump can set off an explosion. Jamie and Adam use SolidWorks to support their unusual design ideas, including a recent one that involves building a rocket that uses salami as a fuel source. John McEleney, SolidWorks chief executive officer, joined the three onstage bringing the rocket.

John then took over for the second half of the session. He gave us a brief review of the 40-year history of CAD and reminded us of SolidWorks’ humble beginnings in someone’s home Winchester, Massachusetts, and showed us a picture of the first release of the program SolidWorks 95. Today SolidWorks is a quarter of a million dollar company with half a million users around the globe.

Next on stage was the CEO of new SolidWorks partner Next Engine to introduce the product I hinted about in my post yesterday: an affordable 3D desktop scanner the size of a cereal box. Pretty amazing when you consider about five years ago, a typical 3D scanner was the size of a refrigerator. The new device sales for $2,495 USD, about 10x less than what a typical 3D scanner normally costs. It’s the hope of Next Engine that this device will “democratize 3D scanning.”

And finally, at the end of the session, a much waited for glimpse at SolidWorks 2007. In the next major release of SolidWorks, file size is cut in half, making it much easier to share designs over an FTP site (download time is less) or even in some cases allow you put a model on file a USB memory stick.

COSMOSMotion is part of SolidWorks Office Premium, another way to get more people using COSMOS products. And a new 3D PDF publishing add-in enables you to create documents with embedded 3D interactive models in them for use in manuals and other documentation.

And a new technology called SWIFT, which stands for SolidWorks Intelligent Feature Technology, automatically repairs your model if you get a rebuild error when trying to make a design change. Rather then having to go back to figure out where the problem is, you can simply click a new FeatureExpert button in the What’s Wrong dialog box, and the program solves the problem for you. The new feature reduces CAD overhead to enable you to spend more time focusing on design.

I really enjoyed the General Session this morning, but I’m a first timer at World, so I spoke with other attendees to get their opinions. Most had positive feedback. They found the session interesting and entertaining. One commented that while the focus of last years’ show was centered on the next release of SolidWorks, this year, SolidWorks was doing more to share the limelight with its customers and partners, which is a good sign.

P.S. I brought my camera to the even and am including a few random pictures with this post.

Matthew West

SolidWorks alumnus. I like plate reverb, Rat pedals, Thai curry, New Weird fiction, my kids, Vespas, Jazzmasters, my wife & Raiders of the Lost Ark. Not necessarily in that order.