Many college and high school students these days are lucky enough to have access to SOLIDWORKS in their classrooms and computer labs. This is a really great way to learn not only 3D CAD, but engineering and design principles in general. But did you know that if you are a student at a school that has a network of SOLIDWORKS licenses, there is a good chance that you have access to an installation of SOLIDWORKS on your own personal computer? For free? Sounds too good to be true, right? Wrong!
What is Student Access Licensing?
Student Access Licensing comes in two flavors. There is the Student Design Kit (SDK), which is available to students at schools that have at least 45 networked seats of SOLIDWORKS. There is also the Student Engineering Kit (SEK), which is available to schools with 100 or more networked seats. The Student Design Kit offers an installation of SOLIDWORKS Standard, while the Student Engineering Kit comes with an installation of SOLIDWORKS Premium, including Simulation Premium and Flow Simulation as well as SOLIDWORKS Sustainability. Both the SDK and SEK come as standalone license installations, meaning that SOLIDWORKS can be run without the computer needing to be connected to the licensing network.
How do I get access?
First you must find out if your school qualifies. To do this, contact your school’s CAD Administrator. This is the person in charge of all things SOLIDWORKS. They will know how many licensed seats your school owns and whether or not you qualify for the SDK or SEK programs. If you do qualify, they will be able to provide you with a student access code, the SDK-ID or the SEK-ID. Then go here to fill out the Student Access Form and receive your serial number and download access.
If you find out your school does not qualify for student access licensing, you still have options! Talk to your CAD Administrator about the possibility of temporarily borrowing a license from your network. This requires you to have access to your school’s network on your personal computer during the installation process. Once SOLIDWORKS is installed using a network serial number, the computer must stay connected to the network while SOLIDWORKS is in use, however a license can be “borrowed” for up to 30 days.
Is there anything else I should know?
Yes. The student access licenses are temporary. They will expire either one year after activation or on November 30th of the following academic school year, depending on which comes first. For example, if you receive access to an SDK license for the 2014-2015 school year and you activate on August 1, 2014, your activation will expire on August 1, 2015. If you do not activate until December 15, 2014, your activation will expire on November 30, 2015. If you are still a student enrolled at the school and you’d like to upgrade to the next version for the next academic year, you will need to get another access code from your CAD Administrator.
What if I have questions about the software?
Many commercial costumers of SOLIDWORKS choose to purchase a yearly subscription service, which allows the customer access to unlimited technical support, among other things. The same subscription services are not available to student access licenses; however there are many great resources available on the SOLIDWORKS Students website. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions. If you have technical problems with the installation, contact your schools CAD Administrator for help.
How can I make sure SOLIDWORKS runs well?
If you are considering purchasing a laptop with CAD in mind, you’ll want to take a look at the SOLIDWORKS system requirements. If you are considering beefing up your system to really get optimal performance, I suggest investing in a professional grade graphics card. The SOLIDWORKS graphics card requirements can be found here. Also, you when you go to perform the installation, I recommend following CAPINC’s recommended installation procedure for best results.
We all know life as a college student can be hard. Hours are long, money is tight and as an engineer-in-training, the stress is high. The last thing you want to worry about is whether or not there will be enough open computers in the lab, or getting your assignment done before the engineering building closes. Talk to your school’s CAD Administrator today to get your own personal installation of SOLIDWORKS for free!