Five Questions Friday with Chris Petersen of Wolverine World Wide

Name: Chris Petersen

Company: Wolverine World Wide

Title: CAD/CAM Manager

I started the CAD department in 1986 using specialized CAD software for the footwear industry running on a smoking hot 2 Mhz PC-AT with a 20 megabyte hard drive. Not even one of our current SolidWorks part files would fit on that drive today.

Why do you do the work you do?
The obvious answer. To pay the bills. Actually, I started working in product development at Wolverine and really wanted to work with computers. When the company wanted to invest in CAD, I was the first to volunteer. I really enjoy working with 3D and creating geometry that I could not create by hand. I am not a sculptor by any means but I can create some seriously complex geometry with SolidWorks.

What is your proudest career moment?
The first rapid prototype model I created. My company invested a butt-load of money in this crazy idea. It was really satisfying to hand them a physical 3-D model from a designer’s sketch.

 What goal inspires you most?
To create products that people look at and say “holy crap! I need to have that.”

How has SolidWorks made a difference in your life?
SolidWorks has created opportunities and opened doors that I never could have dreamed of 10 years ago. If you have an idea, you can probably build it in SolidWorks. The combination of surface modeling and solid modeling that SolidWorks offers has given us the capability to create very complex water tight geometry that can be rapid prototyped very cleanly.

In 1996 Wolverine had made the decision to venture into 3D CAD and rapid prototyping. I started with surface modeling software to create the complex geometries of a typical shoe outsole. I purchased a Helisys LOM machine and created our first RP outsole. A few years passed and it was obvious that surface modeling worked very well for capturing the geometric complexities of an outsole. However, if there were any changes to the base geometry that gave the outsole its shape (shoe last) the entire outsole had to be remodeled. If the original model took a week to create then the changes took a week to make.

I decided to make the switch to a solid modeling package with a feature tree and parametric relationships. I looked at SolidWorks during one of our reseller (DASI Solutions) visits to the area and invited them to Wolverine for a demonstration. I had them give a custom demonstration for Wolverine instead of a standard out of the box demo. They performed every task I gave them. I made the switch to SolidWorks and never looked back.

Who’s your favorite musician and why?
Jimmy Buffett. I really like the laid back and “enjoy life” attitude of his music.

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.