My CSWE Journey, Part 3

Currently, I am working at the Waltham campus located in Waltham, Massachusetts. While working at Dassault Systèmes, I was assigned several projects that required SOLIDWORKS to conduct rapid prototyping with design intent – drastically improving my skills in using the software. After work, I spent time studying SOLIDWORKS to become a well-rounded software user.

Parts created for preparation (Surfacing and Direct Editing):

I wanted to become a well-rounded user so that I would be prepared for the Certified SOLIDWORKS Expert exam. According to the SOLIDWORKS Certification Catalog, “A Certified SOLIDWORKS Expert is someone who easily demonstrates the ability to utilize advanced functions and features to solve complex modeling challenges.” A CSWE will be well rounded in their knowledge of all areas of the SOLIDWORKS software. A CSWE can solve practically any modeling problem given to them and is traditionally the go-to SOLIDWORKS user among their colleagues.

In this blog, I will showcase the final steps that I took to prepare for the CSWE, along with tips and tricks you may find handy during your CSWE journey.

1)     Attain the prerequisites.

In order to qualify for the CSWE, you must pass four CSWP advanced topic exams. Also, the first prerequisite that must be passed is the CSWP, which I covered in my last blog. Not only does the Certified SOLIDWORKS Professional serve as a testament to your capabilities, but also it functions as a significant boost of confidence. This confidence will drive you to pursue the CSWE, and with effort, you will achieve great success – I can vouch for that.

There are five CSWP advanced topic exams to choose from, Sheet Metal, Weldments, Surfacing, Mold Tools, and Drawing Tools. I opted to take Drawing Tools, Surfacing, Sheet Metal, and Weldments. This is also the order in which I took the exams. I felt that I had a great deal of experience with drawing tools and surfacing as compared to the last two topics. But I have to say that the surfacing exam is the most challenging topic of them all.

2)     Learn shortcuts and hotkeys.

To pass the CSWE and the advanced topic exams, it is crucial to learn hotkeys and shortcuts that will save time when taking the exams. Here are some shortcuts and hotkeys that I have personally used.

a)     The “S” key.

This shortcut key can be used within sketches, parts, drawings, and assemblies. I find this hotkey very handy and situational. It speeds up my workflow significantly. The shortcut bar is a user-customizable toolbar that was first introduced in 2008. You can find more information about this hotkey on this blog.

b)     The “D” key.

This hotkey allows you to limit your mouse movement by bringing the confirmation corner towards you. This shortcut can be used whenever there is a confirmation. Instead of clicking enter, or panning your mouse towards the top right where the exit sketch button sits, you can bring the confirmation corner to where your pointer currently sits. Furthermore, you can bring selection breadcrumbs to the arrow. More on selection breadcrumbs can be found here. You can invoke this shortcut by merely pressing the “D” key on your keyboard.

b)     Mouse Gestures.

This is another one of my favorite shortcut toolbars. I use mouse gestures in every part that I create on SOLIDWORKS. I found this toolbar in the summer of 2018, preparing for my CSWA, and this shortcut has followed me since. To access mouse gestures, you hold down your right mouse button and slowly move your mouse pointer. The “wheel” that appears is an in-context mouse gesture shortcut toolbar, and each icon is a shortcut, similar to the “S” key. You can find more information on mouse gestures here.

b)     Selection Filter

The selection filter toolbar is handy for the advanced topic surfacing exam, and the CSWE. This toolbar allows you to designate what to select, and it enables you to be very accurate. You can invoke this toolbar with the use of F5. For instance, when needing edges to choose for a boundary surface, you can click “E” on your keyboard. This will only allow edges to be selected. Other keyboard filtering hotkeys are included below:

Edges E
Faces X
Vertices V

b)     Right Mouse Button

The right mouse button allows you do conduct functions within features you otherwise would not be able to access quickly. For example, within a boss extrude, you can select directions within this menu, but also select OK for confirmation. Additionally, when using the right mouse button, you can to create sketches from faces, instead of accessing the sketch toolbar every time.




My last piece of advice is this: use SOLIDWORKS in your courses, but also outside of classes. Look around you; there must be something you can recreate or design from scratch. Have fun with it! If you have any additional questions, feel free to contact me on LinkedIn.



Nick Zhang

I am a SOLIDWORKS intern working at the 3DEXPERIENCE Lab in Waltham, Massachusetts. I am a rising senior at The Pennsylvania State University, pursuing a bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering. My interests include boxing, swimming, and volleyball.

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