Tips for the Engineering Student – and SolidWorks too

I decided to put some tips together to help engineering students this week – not just with SolidWorks but also with engineering subjects. Choosing the engineering fields can be challenging as an engineering student.

My intern Greg created his own web page to explore areas of engineering studies: aerospace, biomedical, civil, chemical,  computer, electrical, environmental, industrial,  mechanical, and nuclear.  When engineering students help engineering students great things happen.  His web site, called, explores these fields from a student's perspective. 

I love being an engineer and even better here at SolidWorks,  I get to see cool things that engineers design and meet really amazing engineers.  These engineers and designers have a variety of backgrounds and work in many industries.

SolidWorks Skills Prepares students for Jobs 

After hiring young engineers in industry and teaching engineering design for 10 years, here are my tips for students!

Soft Skills

  1. Be early for everything – especially class.  In industry, if you are early you are on time.   I used to have a physics professor lock the door to the 300-student lecture hall.  Being early relieves stress – you are not rushing to class, rushing to meet a study group, or rushing to an exam.
  2. Get organized.  It is the start of a new school year.  Now is the time to create folders for every class for your computer and a folder for your portfolio.  If you don’t have your own computer, see if you have an account area on your schools network.  Organize your room.  Organize your stuff.  Place your glasses, keys, backpack all in the same spot each night – before you go to sleep.
  3. Be prepared.  Get a USB or disk now to back up important projects throughout the school year.  Get new batteries for your calculator.  Put your calculator and other tools always in the same location.
  4. Go to class.  Really.  Use your senses to see, hear and speak the world of engineering.  You might say – it’s boring.  But you will pick up things that will be needed later.  Get to know every professor you have.
  5. Challenge yourself to read the material (or at least look at the illustrations in the book) ahead of time.    If your professor uses a course management system, like blackboard, see if you can look ahead to the assignments and workload.
  6. Don’t fall behind.  Think every day you will have a quiz.  If you don’t get the concept get help by the next day.  Engineering subjects move way to fast to wait.
  7. Join an engineering club – get to know upper level students and work in a team.   Keep ties with team members – even after they graduate.
  8. Find the career center at your school.  SolidWorks positions for internships and jobs may come in throughout the year.    
  9. Start your portfolio now – even if you are in your first year.  I believe you still need both a paper and an electronic portfolio.  You need to update your resume or CV.
  10. Investigate what engineers do.  We have customers that design medical products, aerospace, machinery, consumer products, environmental products and more.  Review customer stories to understand more what engineers do.

SolidWorks Skills

1. There are three documents in SolidWorks: part, assembly, drawing.  SolidWorks begins with a part.  A part is a single entity made up of features.  When you combine multiple parts together, you make an assembly.  A 2D representation of a part or an assembly is called a drawing.

2. The first feature in a part usually begins with a 2D sketch.  Always locate a centerpoint or endpoint of a sketch at the Origin.  Add dimensions and geometric relations (such as equal, concentric) to fully define a sketch.  Fully defined sketches are displayed in black.

3. Locate the first component of an assembly at the Origin.  Select Insert Component, Browse to select the part or assembly.  Click OK (green check mark).  The part or assembly will be positioned at the Origin.

4. The SolidWorks tutorials are located at Help>SolidWorks Tutorials.  I like Lesson One: Parts, Lesson Two Assembly and Lesson Three: Drawings.  There are video tutorials that correspond to these lessons at  in the Getting Started section. 

5. For Finite Element Analysis (FEA ) and Computational Fluid Dynamics( CFD) based subjects, SolidWorks Simulation, Motion and SolidWorks Flow Simulation tutorials, you have to first open a new part or assembly.  Then select Tools, Add-Ins.  Check the simulation you will to perform in the Add-Ins box.  Next, Select Help, SolidWorks Simulation Tutorials.  There you will see the Simulation tutorials for stress, fatigue, frequency, dynamics, linear, non-linear, drop test and more.  The Validation tutorials contain the math-based solution..  The Flow Simulation tutorials are in .pdf format.

SolidWorks Simulation Capabilities 

6. SolidWorks Motion(Kinematics) tutorials under the SolidWorks Tutorial area.   You need to check the Motion Add-In to get forces, velocity and acceleration results.

7. Mechanical Engineering subjects.  If you take a particular subject such as Engineering Mechanics Statics, then I would look at the beam and the truss tutorials.  See how the boundary conditions are set up or how you apply forces.  You don't necessarily have to create a CAD model to do the analysis.  We have hundreds of analysis model  examples for classic problems. 

8.Learn more SolidWorks.   If you don't know what SolidWorks can do, ask.   A great resource   is – there are always cool videos.

9. SolidWorks Sustainability can perform an environment assessment on a part or assembly, but to a Materials Science or Strength of Materials class, comparing material properties is pretty convenient and saves student time. The SolidWorks Guide to Sustainable Design can be really helpful.

10. Take the CSWA Exam.  Certified SolidWorks Associate ExamCSWA can help you get a job – SolidWorks automatically grades the exam.   The CSWA Exam can be given at your school if they qualify to become a Provider.  There are 50,000 certified SolidWorks users around the world.

11. Join the  SolidWorks community.  Check out a local SolidWorks users group at or the SolidWorksforum.  There are many users who blog about SolidWorks that provide great tips every day. Try youtube – there are many examples. 

12. Practice using SolidWorks– a lot.  SolidWorks is a tool that can be used throughout your entire engineering and design curriculum.  The more models you create and analyze, the better your will become. SolidWorks customers will demand that your are good.  They produce some of the best products in the world.   There are thousands of models available on

13. Student Access.  Your school may have SolidWorks Student Access, this allows free SolidWorks CAD, Sustainability, FEA and CFD tools to live on your computer in your home or dorm.   Go to for more information or contact your IT department.

Marie Planchard

Marie Planchard

Senior Director, Early Engagement, 3DEXPERIENCE Works at Dassault Systemes
Marie Planchard is an education and engineering advocate. As Senior Director of Education & Early Engagement, SOLIDWORKS, she is responsible for global development of content and social outreach for the 3DEXPERIENCE Works products across all levels of learning including educational institutions, Fab Labs, and entrepreneurship.
Marie Planchard