Since 1999, the SOLIDWORKS User Group Network (SWUGN) has been bringing SOLIDWORKS users together to learn from their individual experiences. SWUGN provides an invaluable opportunity to network with peers and partners to elevate your professional development and help your company become more productivity. With user groups located worldwide, chances are there’s a group waiting for you to join. If you’ve never attended a SWUGN event, this Q&A with Richard Doyle, SOLIDWORKS User Groups and Senior User Advocacy Manager, is especially for you. In the below, Richard details what you can expect at SWUGN events, how you can join a group and how you can start your own SWUGN chapter.
What should attendees expect when they walk in the door?
A typical SOLIDWORKS user group meeting starts off with a “Meet and Greet” accompanied by food and/or refreshments. There’s a good chance you’ll be met by someone other than the group’s leader, but you’ll recognize him or her by the frantic rushing around making sure everything is just right. Some SOLIDWORKS user groups employ a sponsor (a SOLIDWORKS Partner in many cases) to handle the sign-in list or it could be one of the group’s officers. Take this opportunity to introduce yourself to the group and to your fellow SOLIDWORKS users.
If this is your first time to a SOLIDWORKS user group, you might be surprised at the level of technical content that is provided. SOLIDWORKS users, local reseller applications engineers, or even a SOLIDWORKS employee might be on the agenda. Some presentations will cover specific areas of the software (weldments, sheet metal, assemblies, etc.), but “Tips and Tricks” sessions are also very popular.
You might also be treated to a presentation by one of our SOLIDWORKS Partners, but you can be sure that it will be highly technical in nature, and will address specific needs or functionality that will be useful in your daily work. There’s no such thing as a “sales pitch’ at a user group meeting.
Can you describe the atmosphere at a SWUGN event?
Before you stop and think “Sounds like I’d be back in school”, you should know that user group presentations are quite interactive and presenters very often engage the audience (and vice versa). I’ve been fortunate to attend more than 300 SOLIDWORKS user group meetings over the years, and even as a presenter, I’ve learned something at nearly every one of them. It’s a lot of fun to watch the hoots and hollers when new SOLIDWORKS functionality is shown, or the “head slaps” when a seasoned SOLIDWORKS user sees something they never have seen before. Beginner and expert SOLIDWORKS users alike will always get something from a local chapter meeting.
SWUGN is a great opportunity to learn and meet like-minds. Can you describe how members have benefitting from networking at a SWUGN event?
It was a long time ago, but one of my favorite stories from a user group meeting happened back in 1999. It was the first meeting of the Central Texas SOLIDWORKS User Group, and 40 or so SOLIDWORKS users from San Antonio to Austin met at a place called the Aquarena Center in San Marcos. The meeting was special for a few reasons; it was the first ever SOLIDWORKS user group meeting in Texas, SOLIDWORKS users came from more than 60 miles away to attend, and the first presentation was something relatively new called Rapid Prototyping. But my favorite memory has to do with a SOLIDWORKS user that had recently been laid off from a company that had failed. He didn’t attend the meeting specifically looking for work, but that’s what happened. He sat next to a gentleman that was looking for SOLIDWORKS trained engineers. The next day I received an email from “John” letting me know that he had been hired, and that it was totally the result if his attendance at the meeting. He promised never to miss one.
How can SOLIDWORKS users get involved in SWUGN?
SOLIDWORKS User Groups are worldwide, and the network continues to grow at a steady rate. This year we’ve added fifteen local chapters, attendance is up year over year, and our international groups continue to grow in popularity. You can find your local chapter by using the SWUGN website “Find a Group” page. Simply enter your city or zip code and the map will display all of the SOLIDWORKS user groups within 150 miles of your location.
The chance that a local SOLIDWORKS User Group chapter already exists in your area is high, but if not, it’s very easy to start a group. All it takes is passion and a few hours per month. The SOLIDWORKS User Group Network will fund your groups meetings, can provide insight into successfully leading a SOLIDWORKS User group, and features an eight member SWUGN Committee made up of SOLIDWORKS user group leaders from around the world that are there to help.
Whether you decide to join a local group, or start one, you’ll get a chance to meet a lot of your fellow engineers and designers, you’ll learn valuable information and techniques for working with SOLIDWORKS, and I guarantee you’ll make some new friends.
For more information about the SOLIDWORKS User Group network, please visit www.swugn.org