Along with being a mechanical engineer and an adjunct professor at Laney College in Oakland, California, Elise Moss is also the founder and leader of the Laney SOLIDWORKS User Group! She started the group about 7 years ago as a way for her students to have a way express themselves through creativity. “Laney College has a very diverse population of students and it is located in an area which suffers from a lot of poverty and crime. About a third of our students are housing and/or food insecure. The user group offers them a peek into an alternative – a way for them to express their creativity and their power. The user group meetings are open to the public and we get people attending from local industry, like Sandia Labs and Lawrence Livermore, as well as from UC Berkeley. So, the students get an opportunity to meet people outside of their own “neighborhood” but have a common interest in SOLIDWORKS and design. SOLIDWORKS allows them to find ‘common ground.’”
Elise is constantly inspired by her students, by both their passion for learning and their creativity. “My students blow me away every day. They ask the best questions from the presenters. They really want to learn and apply their ideas. Not all of the students who take my class are interested in pursuing a career as engineers. I get a lot of artists, musicians, glassworkers, motorcycle buffs, etc. They want to use SOLIDWORKS to design sculptures for Burning Man or guitars or better tools for fixing their motorcycles. I am constantly amazed at what they can stretch SOLIDWORKS to do.”
The best meeting that Elise and the Laney SWUG had was when Gian Paolo Bassi, SOLIDWORKS’s CEO, came to present. “He was awesome. I was worried that he would feel uncomfortable around some of the students – I see a lot of body art and piercings – but their enthusiasm for SOLIDWORKS won him over and they loved how genuine he was. The mutual love for design and the art of engineering really came through.”
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that if Elise wasn’t in the engineering industry, she would have a career that helps people, specifically, a Legal Aid attorney. “A couple of legal aid societies have already asked me to volunteer, so that’s something I might do after I retire. I like helping people in a way that is constructive and improves their lives; it is one of the reasons I enjoy teaching at a community college.”
When Elise isn’t busy teaching or leading her group, she spends her free time riding horses! “I am an avid equestrian. I do cowboy mounted shooting and trail riding. Recently, I acquired a young Tennessee Walker gelding after retiring my Peruvian Paso. I spend at least one day each weekend out on the trails with my horse.”
Why should you join a local user group meeting? Elise says: “user group meetings are an amazing resource for users. They are a way to “up your game” with very little time and money invested. You are able to network with other users. I have lost track of how many people who have told me they got a job from someone they met at a user group meeting. Even if you don’t get a job offer at the first meeting you attend, hang in there, keep coming back, build relationships with the other users, your skills will improve and you will find a real community of support.”
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 week or so, we’ll spotlight one of our group leaders and the local user group chapter that they are responsible for leading.