Todd Blacksher Opens Up About SWUGN

I’ve been around the SOLIDWORKS Community for a long time, and I meet a lot of fellow SOLIDWORKS users that are just as passionate about the community as I am.  Group leaders, group members, and the SWUGN Committee members are always willing to talk SOLIDWORKS Community, and some of them even like to write about it.

So, let’s welcome guest blogger Todd Blacksher – Southern US Region SWUGN Representative.

What exactly is “The SWUGN Family?”

Those who know me may have heard me refer to my “SWUGN Family.” Most people just shrug it off and say “It’s Todd, so it must be something SOLIDWORKS related.” Indeed it is. For those that don’t know, SWUGN stands for SOLIDWORKS User Group Network. It is much more than just a “network”, which is why I add the “family.” The user group community IS my extended family. My involvement started when I was the Vice President for the Heartland SolidWorks User Group over 10 years ago. I went on to start the SolidWorks User Group of Nebraska, which I am still the President, and recently I became the Southern US Representative for SWUGN. This means that I get to attend A LOT of User Group meetings every year. (I don’t have to attend, I GET to attend these meetings – It’s pretty awesome!)

The best part is that anyone can be a part of the SWUGN Family – simply find your local SOLIDWORKS User Group, attend a meeting, and introduce yourself – BAM, you are in the family! Every User Group has a leader (some even have a couple) – The SWUGN Leaders are basically the “fun aunts/uncles” of the family – these are the ones that you really want to get to know. The SWUGN Leaders are the ones that spend a considerable amount of their free time learning tips & tricks in SOLIDWORKS to share at meetings, finding presenters, planning facility tours, generating excitement for the group, and finding tasty treats to serve at the meetings. For most people, this sounds like a lot of work, but for this crowd, it is a non-stop adventure.

Have I mentioned SOLIDWORKS World? Step 1: Go … Step 2: Introduce yourself to as many User Group Leaders as possible, and there will be A LOT of them in attendance. The leaders are easy to find, they have special ribbons on their name tags and GIANT smiles. Not only are they the “rock stars” of the SOLIDWORKS community, but they are also extremely easy to approach – trust me, they don’t bite. Once you are a part of the SWUGN family, some of the things we do will start to seem somewhat “normal.” We are the ones that extend the conference by getting there a day or two early and staying an extra day. We are the ones that get up early and stay out late. We are the ones that get to the General Session early and run for the good seats. On Wednesday when they announce the location for the next year’s conference, I immediately set the countdown app on my phone, and Nicole starts scouting out hotels for the User Group Leaders. We are “those people” … and we are proud of it.

Quite possibly the best example of what it is like to be a part of this family happened a few years ago. I was in a really bad car accident and was still recovering, but I really wanted to go to the next User Group meeting. I was unable to drive, so one of the leaders picked me up and drove me to the meeting. When I arrived at the meeting, I was presented with this autographed baseball – if that doesn’t scream “family” nothing does…





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