Designing Dads: How Design Skills Translate to Dad Skills

With Father’s Day only a few days away (don’t forget to buy that classic tie), we wanted to take a moment to recognize all the Dads out there. Being a Dad means wearing multiple hats, and balance between this and work life as a designer can commonly intersect. We surveyed a few SolidWorks bloggers, users and employees about how being a design professional and a Dad often go hand in hand. Here is what they had to say:

Josh Mings, Blogger for

My oldest boy in particular is extremely interested in buildings and mechanisms, in design, patterns and layout. It's shocking to me the understanding that they want, and have. Specific points include fixing vacuums, examining how furniture is constructed, modeling parts in SketchUp, Shape and SolidWorks. And best of all, seeing the drawings they produce that show incredible detail in their simplicity.

Rick Chin, Director of Innovation for SolidWorks

The one place that design and fatherhood overlap for me is on school projects. When thinking about how to approach the situation, I often consider it in the context of designing a product for a customer, with the customer role played by the teacher and/or classmates. So I try to get my kids to think about what they care the most about in this situation. We also talk about breaking down the planning of a project into smaller, easier to understand and complete pieces.

Bryan McElyea, Blogger/Editor for CADFanatic

Since having kids, I find myself constantly looking at the designs of various children’s products and toys. Some I think are ingenious, and others I think need some work or modification. I feel that it’s made me a better design engineer, as I now think a lot more about how someone will be using whatever I am working on. Also, I think that having a mechanical engineering background really helps a lot in assembling things for the kids!  I mean, have you tried to put some of the toys together that are out there now?  You almost need a degree to get some of them out of the box!

Devon Sowell, Blogger for Devon Sowell’s Blog

When I was growing up, I was very fortunate because my Dad was a self-taught mechanical genius. He allowed me to follow my passions and taught me many skills such as welding, machining, and designing. On Father's Day, I like to remember how helpful my Father was in this regard. So far, it appears our 9-year old daughter has many of the same passions and interests in design. At her school, she won 2nd place for her design of a machine called the "Untoaster," a machine that returns toast back into bread! She loves to help me with many projects around the house, and I love to teach her how to use tools such as screwdrivers and wrenches.

Of course, no Father’s Day post would be complete without talking about favorite gadgets. Our contributors mutually agreed on the iPad or iPhone as a fun Dad pick. Josh also pointed out that he enjoys using the Nikon D40, along with the compilation of Apple gadgets. When discussing why he liked certain gadgets, Josh noted that “It's all those moments where you're creating something with them, be it memories or spaghetti, or memories of spaghetti.”

Thanks to all the Dads (and designers) out there! Happy Father’s Day from SolidWorks!


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.