The SolidWorks Community (Solid Thinking SolidWorks Tutorial)

30 Nov, 2007 By: Richard Doyle

From user groups to the VAR, here are the SolidWorks Community groups you should contact.

This month, I want to step away from the technical side of SolidWorks to talk about something equally important -- the SolidWorks Community. The SolidWorks Community is a network of SolidWorks value-added resellers, SolidWorks Solution Partners, the SolidWorks Manufacturing Network, and more than 5,000 educational organizations worldwide. The SolidWorks Community really starts with you -- the SolidWorks users -- and the entity that supports you grass-roots style -- the SolidWorks User Group Network.

The Value-Added Reseller Network
There's a good chance that your first experience with SolidWorks software came by way of a SolidWorks reseller. SolidWorks uses a worldwide network of value-added resellers (VARs) to sell and support the software. In addition to expert knowledge of SolidWorks software, VARs are also well versed in engineering and manufacturing. A good VAR can help analyze your current systems and make suggestions about implementing SolidWorks and SolidWorks add-on programs into your company -- before you buy. After you have purchased SolidWorks, your VAR offers a set of training classes from which to choose.

As part of the SolidWorks Subscription program, the VAR is also your first resource for technical support. SolidWorks VARs maintain a highly qualified staff of support technicians that can answer questions and help resolve issues using a variety of resources. In addition, most VARs offer monthly lunch-and-learn or night school programs that offer additional training opportunities, as well as the chance to meet with fellow SolidWorks users.

SolidWorks Solutions Partner Network
SolidWorks works closely with leading companies around the world to offer you high-quality solutions to meet your specific requirements. From computer hardware companies such as Hewlett-Packard and Dell to rapid prototyping companies such as Z Corp. and Stratasys, SolidWorks Solution Partners offer products and services that tightly integrate with SolidWorks software to meet your specific engineering and manufacturing needs.

SolidWorks Manufacturing Network
Are you looking for suppliers that use SolidWorks software? The SolidWorks Manufacturing Network is a huge community of engineering and manufacturing companies who work with native SolidWorks models. You can use the online search tool to find suppliers right next door or from around the world. A special quoting service (from lets you easily send requests for quotation (RFQs) to SolidWorks Manufacturing Network partners.

If you supply engineering or manufacturing services, you can join the SolidWorks Manufacturing Network free of charge. Just fill out a quick online application form to put your business in the directory. Listing your company with the SolidWorks Manufacturing Network lets hundreds of thousands of SolidWorks users around the world know about your services.

The SolidWorks Education Network
What do Brookside Middle School in Sarasota, Florida; Sun Prairie High School in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin; Dunwoody College of Technology in Minneapolis, Minnesota; and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, have in common? They all use and teach with SolidWorks software. Starting as early as the seventh grade, future engineers and designers learn how to create parts, assemblies, and drawings using the SolidWorks Education Edition. Using curriculum and courseware developed by SolidWorks, educators and students are exposed to core SolidWorks functionality, as well as such areas as design communication (PhotoWorks and Animator), design automation (ToolBox), and simulation and analysis tools such as COSMOSWorks and COSMOSMotion.

Many universities use SolidWorks products to design and test cars, aircraft, and robots for entry into competitions such as the Formula SAE, BOTSIQ, and the MATE ROV contest. The SolidWorks Education Program gives students and educators the opportunity to be a part of the entire SolidWorks Community.

The SolidWorks User Group Network
The heart of the SolidWorks Community is the SolidWorks User Group Network (SWUGN). SWUGN is comprised of more than 120 local SolidWorks User Group chapters around the globe. These local user group chapters meet frequently (monthly, semi-monthly, or quarterly) to share technical information about design, engineering, and SolidWorks software. In any given month, 20 to 25 user group meetings are scheduled around the world. With an average attendance of 35 users per group, nearly 900 SolidWorks users spend two to three hours per month networking, learning, and sharing information with fellow users.

Other SWUGN events include the popular SWUGN Technical Summits, monthly events in various cities across North America (and soon around the world). The SWUGN Technical Summit Series features technical sessions by some of the top SolidWorks users. A dual-track schedule allows attendees to see as many as five different sessions and also includes a lunchtime Tips and Tricks presentation. Great prizes and great food round out the day at each event.

Spearheading the SolidWorks User Group Network is the SWUGN Committee, an eight-member volunteer board made up of current and/or former SolidWorks User Group Leaders on three continents. SWUGN Committee members are tasked with creating and maintaining local user group chapters, working with local group leaders to provide tools and programs necessary to help local groups grow and thrive, and working closely with SolidWorks to make sure that local user group chapters have everything they need to succeed. Committee members are elected by their peers to serve two-year terms, and they host the annual SWUGN Summit meeting of user group leaders each year at SolidWorks World. The SWUGN Summit is attended by more than 60 user group leaders, and features special guests such as Jon Hirschtick and Jeff Ray. The SWUGN Summit at SolidWorks World also is the setting for the SWUGN Awards, given to the top user group leaders and user group chapters of each year.

The SolidWorks Community is very important to SolidWorks and its customers. The combination of resellers, partners, students, and user group members offers services beyond simply selling and supporting SolidWorks software. From purchasing SolidWorks software and training to finding the right manufacturing partners and meeting fellow users at school or user group meetings, the SolidWorks Community is there from the very beginning.

About the Author: Richard Doyle

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