A Visit With the Laney SolidWorks User Group

I recently had the pleasure of attending a pretty unique user group event at Laney College in Oakland, California. The group is run by Elise Moss, a long-time supporter of SolidWorks and instructor at the school.  If you’re not familiar, Laney is an urban community college, focused on building skills and career/technical education.

When I arrived for the meeting, Elise gave me a tour of the impressive machine shop and lab where she teaches SolidWorks.  After talking to a few of the instructors and students, I really got a sense of how they focus on skills that students can use to get jobs immediately after completing the course. The school even has a covered area where students build a house each semester. All of the classes contribute to its construction using the skills they’re learning at Laney, such as carpentry, electrical, plumbing, etc. It’s a very different way of learning compared to memorizing dozens of formulas, which was the case when I studied for my ME degree.

When it came to the user group, I learned that while some members were local SolidWorks customers, most were either Elise’s current or former students.  Elise had shared some renderings from the students’ final projects before the meeting, and I was blown away by what they had done in a 12-week course, especially considering they were starting from scratch.  She makes her students work in teams so they learn about sharing files, and all the headaches of references. 

As we got closer to my presentation, I have to admit that I was pretty nervous. I don’t usually speak to students, and I was concerned about the topics I was covering being relevant to the group. I talked about how we plan our products here at SolidWorks, and how we design our software and iterate with users though the process. I also talked a bit about the next release of SolidWorks, and connected the dots with the process.  The group was great. There were all kinds of questions about leveraging GPUs, why we can’t do certain things, and (of course) conversations about graphics cards requirements. This gang knew their stuff, and they weren’t afraid to tell me where we could do better.

I really want to thank Elise and the group for having me—it was a great pleasure. A few days after the event, Elise emailed me to let me know that 9 of 12 students from this semester passed the CSWA exam. That’s pretty impressive.

Congratulations to our newest CSWAs from Laney College!

Fielder Hiss

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