Tim Ackaway on SOLIDWORKS Certification – All I want is my CSWE!

Tim Ackaway, student at Braden River High School, has a passion for SOLIDWORKS.    He started with SOLIDWORKS in Middle School.  Tim is inspired by his instructor Gil Burlew.  Two weeks ago, he contacted SOLIDWORKS Certification Manager, Mike Puckett with the message below.


Hi Mike,


My passion for SolidWorks, started when I was a sixth grader in middle school.

The first Solidworks project I worked on was building a basic trebuchet. My teacher showed the class the basics of SolidWorks, and then set us free. I was the only one in the 45 minute class time that was able to successfully build all the components. On the second day of class, I came in and was ready to learn how to assemble the trebuchet in SolidWorks. After assembling it, I was excited to see all that one can do inside of this program. From that day on, I knew that I wanted to continue using SolidWorks. I used it throughout the year, and one day I got an idea to design an iPhone. I wanted to do it all on my own with no tutorial or assistance. The project started off quite bumpy, as I was inexperienced with the program. However, after messing around with a couple of features, I started to get the hang of it. About a week in, I had the overall shape of the phone, with all the buttons and the screen. This experience enabled me to help kids out with their projects for the rest of the year. Toward the end of my eighth grade year, my teacher mentioned a certification that students could take that would showcase their experience in SolidWorks. I started looking up practice tests, and I saw them as a fun challenge. On the last day of my eighth grade year, my teacher gave me the test, and I was very nervous. I passed, missing only one question in the entire test. I was ecstatic when I saw my results pop up on the screen! My hard work from the last three years had finally paid off.

My freshman year in high school, my engineering teacher gave the class a simple SolidWorks project – a pair of scissors – to evaluate where everyone was at. I failed majorly on this project, and was upset about it for a while. From there, I was determined to get better at SolidWorks. I watched a variety of YouTube videos about random features in the program. Halfway through the year, my teacher talked about the CSWP. I had never heard about the CSWP and was interested in it. I talked to my teacher, and he said that no freshman at our school had ever passed this exam before. At that moment, I had a new goal. I studied some practice exams online, and felt confident to take the first part, which I passed with a perfect score. When it came time to take the second segment of the CSWP, I had failed it by one question. I went back and studied counting down the days until I could take it again. Once my 14 day cool down expired, I retested and managed to fail again. I was very discouraged by this, but I knew I could not give up this far in. I spent some more time studying and watching more videos. At the end of my second 14 day cool down, I felt confident. My resilience paid off, this time I passed, I had finally conquered part two of this test. The last remaining part was the assemblies, something which I felt very confident in doing. I took that one about a week later and passed with a perfect score.

My sophomore year, I focused more on academics, but toward the end of the year I made time for SolidWorks and passed the CSWPA-DT. I studied over the summer, and got the CSWPA-WD. At the beginning of this year, my junior year, I got my CSWPA-SM.  I was determined to get the prerequisites for the CSWE. Halfway through the year, I got the CSWPA-MT.

The CSWE for me is a goal that I’ve been trying to achieve since I’ve heard about it. The CSWE would showcase the hard work that I’ve been putting in for the last 6 years. I highly encourage anyone to work toward the CSWE, as there is a lot to be learned through the exams, and that knowledge can help with many of the projects that are done in SolidWorks. In retrospect, SolidWorks has helped me become a better leader, as well as preparing me for the industry that I plan on going into.


The best conclusion to this story is Tim’s success.  He passed the CSWE this weekend.  There are less than 3000 CSWE’s in the world.

For more information about the SOLIDWORKS Certification program go to www.solidworks.com/certification.

Thank you Tim, Mike for sharing this story,  Marie


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