Before enrolling as an engineering student at the University of Michigan, I had used CAD software for several years. During that time I’ve experienced formal classroom settings, informal settings, as well as learning the software by simply clicking around until I found a solution. Even though I eventually accomplished what I was trying to do, this method was time-consuming and didn’t always yield the most effective solution.
I recently had the opportunity expand my skills by taking a take a two-week SOLIDWORKS online training class called SOLIDWORKS Essentials. The experience I’ve had in the past with online learning involved recorded lectures, online classes, and tutorials so when I logged in the first day of the course, I expected a similar experience. Instead, I was introduced to a whole new way of learning.
SOLIDWORKS online training is entirely interactive and emphasizes on instructor/student interaction. I logged into my class by calling in through my computer which lets me speak up at any time if I have a question or needed something to be repeated. I could also use the chat window to talk directly to my instructor. My instructor also used the chat to ask the class questions that each student could answer individually. My SOLIDWORKS online training rivaled my previous in-classroom experiences and I was genuinely impressed with the effectiveness.
Shortly after registering, I received a SOLIDWORKS Essentials textbook and access to SOLIDWORKS training files. The SOLIDWORKS Essentials textbook contained 14 lessons each with their own case study to be walked through in class as well as multiple exercises to be completed after each lesson. My instructor covered two lessons a day for two weeks, (Monday through Thursday) which were two and a half hours long.
SOLIDWORKS online training is for all levels of users
My first day of SOLIDWORKS Essentials began with an introduction to the concepts behind SOLIDWORKS and a tour of the interface. Lessons continued into our first sketch and extrude leading to basic part modeling, complex modeling, and eventually drawings and assemblies. Having a background in CAD, the first few days were a little slow for me but that’s something my instructor was cautionary about. SOLIDWORKS Essentials is designed to host a wide variety of users from beginners to those with experience looking for more formal training. With beginners in mind, it was emphasized how valuable the first few lessons were in order to have the foundation for more complex material later on.
Even with an extensive background using CAD, there are many embedded tools that are designed to save time and increase productivity that I wasn’t aware of. Certain SOLIDWORKS tips and tricks only come out after years of experience so working with an expert in the field is a perfect way to learn about these tools and start using them.
SOLIDWORKS online training classes are taught by SOLIDWORKS experts
A great deal of success during my experience taking SOLIDWORKS Essentials can be attributed to my instructor Rachael Buhl. Rachael is a Senior Application Engineer Instructor and a Certified SOLIDWORKS Expert. She is friendly, engaging, and taught the class with high energy. She knew the answers to complex questions far beyond the scope of the class that curious students had. She even recommended further areas of study and offered to stay after class for more in-depth answers to questions. Every student even received a recording of each session to review. Having an expert as a resource made learning the SOLIDWORKS Essentials material very comfortable.
Throughout my SOLIDWORKS online training, I had the opportunity to sharpen my skills and reevaluate how I was using the software. By far, the most helpful tip I took away was the importance of design intent. Design intent is the process of thinking through all aspects of your design before you dive into modeling.
Design intent is asking yourself a series of questions such as: What plane should this part be? How do I want my final drawing to look and be dimensioned? How should I design this part so it can be manufactured efficiently? Should I develop my part with symmetry in mind? How should I design this part so that future edits are simply executed?
SOLIDWORKS Essentials emphasized design intent from the very beginning with examples of designs that had good design intent and those that didn’t. I was able to see how a well-designed part can be edited within seconds and how frustrating and time-consuming it can be when the designer doesn’t plan for the future.
With all this new knowledge gained, what was my next step? To learn more. Fisher Unitech offers over 40 different online classes and 12 different SOLIDWORKS certification tests to help advance your understanding of SOLIDWORKS. These certification programs will allow me to show future employers my advanced skill set and help me stand out from the crowd in today’s competitive job market.
About the Author:
Madison Bryce is a sophomore at the University of Michigan. She is studying mechanical engineering with a minor in computer science. Madison has four years of CAD experience and joined the Fisher Unitech team to share and grow that knowledge. Madison's dream is to one day become a roller coaster engineer. She is currently in a theme park engineering group at the University of Michigan.