SolidWorks World 2011 Day 1 – General Session Update

The first general session of SolidWorks World was full of excitement, as always. The show opened with former SolidWorks CEO Jeff Ray introducing some customers who assisted with the rescue of the Chilean miners last year. You might recall Schramm and Center Rock from Jeff's previous blog entry, and they were joined by Oakley, who provided the miners with sunglasses to help their eyes adjust after 69 days underground.

20110124_49 Jeff also talked about Design That Matters who is doing amazing things in the developing world and appeared previously at SolidWorks World 2009. Time Magazine recently picked the NeoNurture Incubator, which they showed at that event, as one of the 50 Best Inventions of 2010. Their latest project is nicknamed “Firefly” and focuses on infant phototherapy to combat infant jaundice – another common problem.  According to health experts, 60% of infants suffer from jaundice in their first week of life.  The solution in Western hospitals is very simple – it’s visible blue light shone at 460 nanometers directly on the infant’s skin.  However, in non-western hospitals this becomes more of a design challenge as the standard configuration doesn’t always work. 

Relying on SolidWorks, DTM created a prototype phototherapy machine for use in remote areas. Unlike conventional overhead phototherapy units, the DTM design is intended to treat only one infant at a time, reducing cross-infections between newborns.  Having lights above and below the infant make it "hard to use wrong", in that even if caregivers put a blanket over the baby, they'll still receive a therapeutic dose of phototherapy.

New SolidWorks CEO Bertrand Sicot then came out and gave an update on the previous year. Some of the key points he made were:

  • We were very fortunate that in 2010 we were able to continue investing in the business, growing R&D and our tech support groups to record levels. We continue to have developers and tech support personnel who are focused on development and innovation, rather than being distracted by the possibility of losing their jobs.
  • Our resellers continue to remain strong as well – none of them went out of business in 2009 or 2010, underscoring that same commitment.
  • As always, SolidWorks 2011 includes hundreds of features requested by customers.
  • DraftSight, the newest product from Dassault Systemes, has been the most successful 2D product in history.

20110124_66 Bertrand also underscored SolidWorks' committment to three platforms, saying "even though we’re going online, rest assured that this will not be an “either/or” decision for our customers.  We will always offer locally-installed desktop CAD, data management and validation solutions.  I will say that again–we will always have a locally installed desktop CAD.  We can’t predict when the shift to online will occur, but we know that the market will tell us, and we want to have applications ready when you tell us you’re ready."

Bertrand then turned the stage over to Dassault Systemes CEO Bernard Charles and Jeremy Luchini, SolidWorks Certification Manager and host of Let's Go Design. Together, they introduced everyone to the newest offering from SolidWorks, called Post3D. This is a product based on 3DVIA technology that lets SolidWorks users show off their work in new ways. You'll hear more about this later.

Finally, the day closed out with a presentation from Commander Capt. James Lovell Jr. and Gene Kranz, from the Apollo 13 mission. Attendees sat in rapt attention as first Gene Kranz told about the evolution of the manned space program, from Project Mercury to Gemini and Apollo. He spoke of the men and women who took risks, developed new processes, and applied skill and discipline to achieve the mission objective, and pointed out that launching a manned capsule on a rocket generating 7 1/2 million pounds of thrust is real commitment. Gene reviewed the first stages of the Apollo 13 mission to the point where an on-board explosion damaged the ship, and then Jim Lovell came on stage with his famous message – "Houston, we have a problem."

Capt. Lovell worked though the details of using the lunar module as a lifeboat, working with the ground crew to find solutions, and about "how quickly you can learn when you're in deep trouble." Jim closed with the thought that there are three kinds of people – "People who make things happen, people who watch things happen, and people who wonder what happened." – and that the leadership, tenacity, and initiative of everyone involved is what brought Apollo 13 safely back to Earth.

Bertrand then closed out the first day's general session, telling us that now was when the work began!

Watch for a video of SolidWorks World 2011 Day 1 that will be posted later today.

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.