Only 344 days days until…

SolidWorks World 2010. But before we get going on next year,
let’s take a look at SWW 2009, held last week in Orlando. Some miscellaneous
thoughts and wanderings:

  • I was blown away by the attendance figures and energy. We
    were hoping for around 3,500 attendees in this tough market; we ended up with
    over 4,300 participants. Thank you!
  • This is indeed a tough market. Our venue just had a similarly-sized
    event (to be held by a TARP-funded bank) cancel with only a two-week notice.
    People in the hospitality industry are hurting too.
  • Many of the attendees pulled heroic efforts to get there.
    You told me about paying your own way when your employer refused (and in at
    least one case, shut down only days before the event) and even took personal
    vacation time. We are all so inspired and humbled by your passion. This has a
    huge impact on every SolidWorks employee to work even harder to exceed your
    expectations, and you charged our batteries for the whole year.
  • Sir Richard Branson is the Real Deal. After our presentation
    in the general session we spent a few minutes together. All he wanted to talk
    about was an innovative incubator I had highlighted for use in third-world
    countries. An aside–four million babies in the third world die in their first
    year of life, and half those deaths could be avoided with incubators. Sir
    Branson looked me right in the eye and said "I need to get those
    incubators to Africa right now.” He is absolutely obsessed with leaving this
    world in better shape than when he arrived. I believe he’ll do it. Oh, and he
    also looked out on the sea of faces and questioned, “Why aren’t there more
    female engineers?” Why, indeed.
  • Engineers can be rock stars to the next generation. Mike
    North and Joe Grand from The Discovery Channel’s “Prototype This” were onstage
    Wednesday–you should have seen the look in the eyes of the students from local
    Oviedo High School in the front row as they saw that design is cool–and fun.
    They were drooling over the car/plane from Terrafugia,
  • Don’t tell anyone – it’s a secret – but a key reason for the
    commitment you have to SolidWorks comes from the value you get from the partners.
    A record 100+ partners put on a great show of really cool technology to help
    people get their jobs done. The energy in the partner pavilion was electric.
    And three-quarters have already signed up for next year.
  • You shared some really cool products you’ve designed.
    Literally every industry and country was represented. I got a kick out of
    talking with Denis Manning, the owner of the world speed record for motorcycles
    at over 350 mph (563 kph). Two amazing breakthroughs–first, he couldn’t get a
    traditional OEM engine to deliver enough torque and horsepower in a small
    enough package, so he designed and built his own from scratch with SolidWorks.
    Second really wild thing–his inspiration for the shape of his bike came from a
    salmon. It turns out to be a very fast fish, so he just copied its shape and
    blew away the old record. He’s convinced he can do 400 mph (644 kph).
     That one will go in the Smithsonian.

Well, I could go on, but just one final thought: you really
are the owners of the SolidWorks products; our job is to be the caretakers and
deliver on your needs. As Jon Hirschtick said in his speech, SolidWorks is
really only starting. Believe it!

Now, I need to  get started on that first draft of next
year’s opening speech…