SWUGN Technical Summits (Solid Thinking SolidWorks Tutorial)

15 Oct, 2009 By: Richard Doyle

The one-day SolidWorks User Group Network events bring users together for learning, networking, and lunch.

Editor's note: This article courtesy of SolidWorks. Part of the "Solid Thinking" tutorial series, this edition presents a different type of educational opportunity for SolidWorks users, the SolidWorks User Group Network (SWUGN) Technical Summits.

Beginning in 2007, the SolidWorks User Group Network (SWUGN) created a series of technical events called the SWUGN Technical Summits. These one-day learning and networking events are held monthly in cities across North America and offer a choice of ten technical sessions presented by local users, SolidWorks employees, and reseller representatives. Over the past three years, the events have grown in popularity and regularly attract some of the top SolidWorks talent from around the country.

SWUGN Technical Summit History
The origin of the SWUGN Technical Summits can be traced back to 2004, when the All-Texas SolidWorks User Conference (ATSUC), a two-day user-run learning event, was held in Austin. The conference featured technical presentations and SolidWorks Partner exhibits and was attended by more than 130 users. Building on the success of ATSUC, user groups from the Midwest introduced the Midwest SolidWorks User Conference in 2005. Using the same model, the Midwest event attracted more than 230 SolidWorks users in the first year and was successful for several years afterward. Similar events were held in eastern Massachusetts and southern California.

Although each event was well attended and popular with attendees, the static locations, the two-day format, and difficulty in scheduling vendors required to help offset costs eventually took its toll. The events required a lot of work for the organizers, and attendance and vendor interest began to slip. For these reasons, the decision was made to try something new.

The First SWUGN Technical Summit event was held in April 2006 in Houston, Texas. Attendance was lower than expected, but the event was well received. An additional seven events were held that year, covering most of the SWUGN regions of the United States. Changing the length to one day made the event easier to manage, removed the need for attendees to miss two days of work, and lowered costs. Deemed a success, the one-day format continues to this day.

About the SWUGN Technical Summit
The typical SWUGN Technical Summit starts early with registration and a continental breakfast. An opening orientation session provides attendees with information about SWUGN, the SolidWorks Community, and what to expect for the rest of the day. Immediately following the opening session, attendees break off into two tracks: core SolidWorks functionality and specialty subjects like PDM, mold design, and rendering. Attendees are able to choose five sessions from a total of ten. Morning sessions are followed by a nice lunch, and the remainder of the day is dedicated to technical sessions.

Local user group leaders are a big part of the SWUGN Technical Summit success. From arranging presenters to marketing the events, the SWUGN Technical Summits could not survive without their efforts. Many local SolidWorks user groups have seen their attendance at regular meetings increase dramatically as a result of these events. Many of the SWUGN Technical Summits are attended by several local user group leaders.

The technical sessions are the main reason that SolidWorks users attend the SWUGN Technical Summits. Many companies send more than one attendee so each can attend different sessions and compare notes later on. There is no marketing or sales pitch, just a full day of learning about SolidWorks. The events are not free, but thousands of SolidWorks users have gladly paid the $40.00 registration fee, and most, if not all, have remarked positively about the value received.

Perhaps one of the most popular SWUGN programs in history, the SWUGN Technical Summits have seen a steady increase in attendance over the past three years. SolidWorks users are registering in record numbers in 2009, with the average attendance reaching almost 100. The emphasis on technical sessions is the main reason, as local SolidWorks users look to increase their knowledge about SolidWorks and mechanical design.

The SWUGN Technical Summit schedule is released each year in January. Look for an event near you, and make sure to register early as some events do sell out. Thanks to local SolidWorks user group leaders, SolidWorks resellers, and the presenters at each event, the SWUGN Technical Summits provide a unique opportunity to learn, network, and have lunch with fellow SolidWorks users.

The list of 2009 SWUGN events is available online; users can register on the site as well. The remaining Technical Summits for 2009 will be held in San Antonio, Texas (November 10), and San Jose, California (December 8).

About the Author: Richard Doyle

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