SWUGN Group Leader Spotlight – Denny Bahl

Since 1996, SOLIDWORKS User Groups have been a valuable resource for SOLIDWORKS users all over the world.  The SWUGN Committee and DS SOLIDWORKS provide ample support, but the real stars are the SOLIDWORKS User Group Leaders. Every couple of weeks we’ll spotlight one of our group leaders and the local user group chapter that they are responsible for leading.

Denny Bahl – Chicago SOLIDWORKS User Group & Chicago West SOLIDWORKS User Group

Denny Bahl and his hardware
Denny Bahl and his hardware

Denny leads what is generally considered to be the second ever SOLIDWORKS User Group in Chicago, and he has also been leading the Chicago West SOLIDWORKS User Group for the past six years.  Under Denny’s leadership, the Chicago SOLIDWORKS User Group was awarded the SWUGN User Group of the Year award for 2010, and last year at SOLIDWORKS World 2015, he shared the SWUGN User Group Leader of the Year award.  I’m always pleased to see Denny’s meeting announcements as they all start with “As always, SOLIDWORKS employees are welcome at our meetings”.  Here’s what Denny has to say about himself and his user groups.

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Denny Bahl, Certified SOLIDWORKS Professional. I am currently the Engineering Manager at Innovative Plastech, Inc. in Batavia, IL. Innovative Plastech is a thin-gauge custom thermoforming company. I oversee the design and development of our customer’s products and the design, development and construction of the tooling required to produce our customer’s products. Also, I am the User Group Leader for (2) groups in the Chicago area, CSUG – Chicago SOLIDWORKS User Group & CWSUG – Chicago West SOLIDWORKS User Group.

When did you first start learning/using SOLIDWORKS?

I started learning/using SOLIDWORKS back in 1997 with a purchase of SOLIDWORKS-96, one release after the initial release of SOLIDWORKS-95 and have been hooked ever since.

Tell us a little about your SOLIDWORKS User Group.

CSUG – Founded in 1998 with our first meeting held May 06, 1998. I was one of the original charter members, board member and held the office of treasurer. CSUG is one of the oldest and longest running user groups in the SOLIDWORKS Community.

CWSUG – Founded in 2009 with our first meeting held April 02, 2009. I was a co-founder for this group and continue to lead it today.

What was the best meeting you’ve had?

We have had many great meetings over the years but if I have to pick one it would have to be a meeting with Ed Eaton giving one of his SOLIDWORKS World famous presentations, any presentation by Ed is going to be great. But this particular meeting brought record attendance; we even had to track down more chairs to bring into the room. I also remember it well since I did not get any pizza that night.

What was the worst meeting you’ve had?

I remember it like it was yesterday… It was May 08, 2007 we had logistical challenges to deal with and I had to get a revised meeting notice out to the group. Here is an excerpt from that revised notice, “We had a couple of issues come up regarding the food for the meeting. We are now planning on having soft drinks and snack chips.” From that meeting on I tend to triple check on the food service. Other than the food issue this was still a great meeting.

How many users are in the group?

CSUG – Average attendance runs 25-30 with around 300 on our email list.

CWSUG – Average attendance runs 15-20 with 100+ on our email list.

Why should people attend a SOLIDWORKS User Group meeting?

User Group meetings are a great source for “free” education. The technical presentations offer a great opportunity to learn something new. Networking is another great reason to attend User Group meetings on a regular basis. Once you attend a local User Group meeting you will find that most of the attendees are very passionate about SOLIDWORKS and are very open to helping each other out with SOLIDWORKS related issues. Oh, one more thing, FREE PIZZA.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Leading a successful group is a rewarding experience on its own. Along with the rewarding experience of leading a successful group I have been honored with the 2010 SOLIDWORKS User Group of the Year award for the Chicago SOLIDWORKS User Group. Last year I was humbled and honored to receive the 2014 SOLIDWORKS User Group Leader of the Year award. This award holds special meaning in my heart now that it is given in honor of Wayne Tiffany. These awards are proudly displayed on their very own shelf in my office.

Thanks for taking the time and sharing with us Denny.  Chicago is one of my favorite places to visit, and I’ll look forward to attending a meeting soon.


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