800 Miles From the Sea

It's been a terrific couple of weeks.  I was fortunate to attend six SolidWorks User Group meetings, and travel around the country with Suchit Jain, VP, Strategy, User Advocacy & Community and Richard Allen, Director, Product Portfolio Management.

The Brotherly Love Tour

It all started with some flight delays in Austin that slowly moved into both cities I was heading for  – Dallas and Philadelphia.  I finally arrived in Philly, jumped into a rental car, and headed toward Colmar, PA and the Mid-Atlantic Region Independent SolidWorks User Group.  I arrived 15 minutes before the meeting as scheduled to end, and didn't even bring my computer inside – I just assumed that it was too late for my Surfacing presentation.

Wrong.  The crowd insisted and just about everyone stayed for another hour.  I was very happy after a long travel day that I got to do what I love to do – talk about SolidWorks.

Suchit and I also attended meetings of the Lehigh Valley SolidWorks User Group and the Susquehanna Valley SolidWorks User Group.  Attendance was good at all of the meetings, and Suchit's presentation on Community was very well received.  We also learned a lot about local history – lots of driving time gave Suchit the opportunity to look up facts about the cities and places we were visiting.

Special thanks to Jeff Holliday, Mark Semmel, and Dennis Miller for their help setting up the tour.

The Heartland Tour

Last week Rich Allen and I put nearly 900 miles on a rental car visiting SolidWorks User Groups in Omaha, Des Moines, and Kansas City.  We were also lucky enough to visit a great customer in Kansas City – Smith Electric Vehicles.  Our host Vic Lenoir gave us a great tour, and even allowed me to take a picture or two.


The SolidWorks User Group of Nebraska (SwugOne) was stop number one, and the meeting was held in-between Lincoln and Omaha at Mahoney State Park.  The venue was excellent, the food was great, and a special announcement was made at the end of the meeting.  Omaha will be getting it's own user group – Omaha Nebraska SolidWorks User Group– headed by future SolidWorks Community star Kyle Kraudy of Conductix.  Good news indeed!

A pleasant drive to Des Moines on Wednesday was interrupted by windmills – hundreds of them.  Rich Allen started his career designing windmills and he was quite excited by the site of them.  We even stopped and took some pictures.  Iowa gets nearly 25% of its energy from wind and solar, by far the best of all the states.

The Central Iowa SolidWorks User Group meeting was held at the headquarters of Vermeer in the sleepy little town of Pella.  It was kind of funny driving through the backroads and farmland, only to turn the corner and see this big, beautiful Vermeer plant out in the middle of almost nowhere.


The drive to Kansas City was the longest, but we were surprised by the terrain in Southwest Iowa – rolling hills and lots and lots of trees.  The beautiful surroundings helped make the time pass quickly.

Jeremiah Griffith runs the Kansas City SolidWorks User Group, and he did not disappoint with this meeting.  I was happy to be the bystander this time as Brian Reel of Alignex was on the schedule.  I had to bug out early though – a 3 hour drive and a 6:30am flight out of Omaha the next day compelled me to get on the road.  Rich Allen did a great job with his presentation, and there were plenty of questions afterward.  Oh, and the food…..


Thanks to Todd Blacksher, Craig Jensen, and Jeremiah Griffith for graciously hosting Rich and myself. 

There are plenty of other people to thank – the local resellers, local DS SolidWorks employees, and all of the user group support teams that help the group leaders provide the great value that is a SolidWorks User Group meeting.

Thank You!

So what does the title of this post have to do with anything?  It has to do with one of the best seafood meals I have ever had at a little place in West Des Moines.  The menu was full of tempting treats – Oysters, Mahi Mahi, Shrimp, and they even had a sushi bar.  You don't often see that in a strip mall 800 miles from the sea.

Richard Doyle
My official title is Senior User Advocacy & SolidWorks User Groups - but most people just call me "The User Group Guy". I've been a SolidWorks user since 1997, and was one of the founding members of the SWUGN Committee. Since starting the Central Texas SolidWorks User Group in 1999, my career path has led me to DS SolidWorks and a dream job supporting the SolidWorks User Group Network worldwide.
Richard Doyle
Richard Doyle