Training the Next Generation of SolidWorks Users

 “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”

…this my favorite quote from Mark Twain.


As a teenager I thought I knew everything, and adults…well they just didn't "get it." I recently had the opportunity to spend some time with a group of teenagers. I have to say I was very inspired and energized by this group of very intelligent teenagers that "get it."

If you attended SolidWorks World 2012, or caught a glance at the General Session videos, you would have seen this years top-10 list (enhancements for SolidWorks) presented by High School Students at Assabet Valley Technical High School. Take a look…

I visited Assabet to record the top 10 videos for this clip, and knew it would be a fun project, but was a little concerned about keeping the students engaged.  However, what I gained from this trip was so much more.  I was extremely surprised by how excited the students were to meet anyone from SolidWorks, and to show me designs they created using SolidWorks.  I was very impressed with the approach of their teacher, Bryant LaFlamme. He not only teaches them how to use SolidWorks, but also teaches them how to take their designs and build them in the shop! 

Teaching a high-schooler how use SolidWorks is one thing, but if students are going to create prototypes, they must design products with an understanding of how products are manufactured. You cannot just design “anything.” It must be able to be built.  These students were learning SolidWorks, designing robots within SolidWorks, then building their designs, and testing them.  I wish I had this opportunity when I was in high school.  Okay, so I'm dating myself here, but when I attended high school the only drafting was on a table (2D), not a computer, and shop class was wood only, no metal.

These students were learning real skills, which will be very marketable outside of their school, and they loved it.  Several times while I was recording the top 10 video, I had to stop the students from working in order to record video.  

I even captured some video of one of the robots the students had built actually in action.  This particular robot was built to rip up anything in its path, by rotating four blades at 3000 rpm.  See the video here:

I left Assabet feeling good about the next generation of designers and engineers and the skills they were learning.  I think we could all use a ripping robot, right?

The one things the students asked me (representing SolidWorks) for, was more "how to" videos.  So, if you haven't seen the full series of videos from the Video Vault, this link may help (note: may have to register):


Cliff Medling

Cliff Medling is a Senior Marketing Manager at SolidWorks and the host for the Born to Design Podcast.