October 22, 2007
SolidWorks Co-Founds The CAD Academy
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Jeff Rowe - Managing Editor

by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
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SolidWorks Corp. has teamed with other leading design software providers to launch The CAD Academy, a secondary and post-secondary pre-engineering and pre-architectural program designed to inspire a new generation of engineers and architects at a price educators can afford. The program bundles industry-leading design, engineering, and architecture software with curriculum, support, and multimedia content, all at a fraction of the cost of other design education packages.

The CAD Academy software offering includes:

• SolidWorks Education Edition 3D CAD software for product design and mechanical engineering

• Graphisoft ArchiCAD, a Building Information Modeling (BIM) software program for architectural modeling

• Google SketchUp Pro, one of the simplest 3D design tools, with Podium photorealistic rendering

• A+ CAD, a proprietary The CAD Academy software product that uses the familiar AutoCAD user interface, commands, applications, and compatibility "without the high cost"

• Discovery Channel multimedia content, including excerpts from the "Extreme Engineering" show

"The CAD Academy is designed for school districts that need to increase opportunities for all students to apply math and science in relevant and compelling ways," said Marie Planchard, SolidWorks director of worldwide education markets. "It's a desperate need, as documented in 'Rising Above the Gathering Storm' and other studies showing that we in North America have a lot of ground to make up to sustain our competitiveness."

"Rising Above the Gathering Storm" is a seminal National Academies of Science Report focusing on reclaiming U.S advantages in the marketplace, science, and technology. It calls for a tripling of the number of students who pass advanced placement or similar math and science exams by 2010.

The CAD Academy addresses that need by helping middle and high school students in North America explore technology-oriented career paths through real-world projects that deepen understanding of science, engineering, architecture, and mathematics.

"The curriculum is thorough and the lessons are comprehensive," said Rudy Aguilar, drafting instructor at Apollo High School, Glendale, Ariz.

The CAD Academy software suite is bundled with comprehensive curriculum resources that are approved by the American Design Drafting Association (ADDA), the premier design drafting organization. It covers architectural, mechanical engineering, and civil engineering design, and is structured to support both new and highly experienced instructors, even if they've already developed their own curriculum.

The mechanical engineering curriculum utilizes the highly praised "Engineering Drawing and Design" text by Madsen, Madsen & Turpin, as well as many e-resources that provide lesson plans, syllabi, PowerPoint presentations, a computerized test bank, drawing files, and animations. The material covers basic analysis principles for use with SolidWorks' COSMOS(R) analysis software, which is included with SolidWorks Education Edition. Students emerge prepared to take the Certified SolidWorks Associate (CSWA) exam, demonstrating industry standard competencies in design and engineering principles.

For more information on The CAD Academy package, visit

Commentary By Jeffrey Rowe, Editor

I’ve volunteered to be a math tutor at the local high school this year and am involved with helping students with Algebra 2, Trigonometry, and Pre-Calculus. I got involved because I feel that math literacy has become as important as literacy in reading and writing. My main goal is not to make them math geniuses as much as helping to ensure that ten years from now they are not asking, “You want fries with that?,” as part of their daily work routine.

For the most part, the students I am involved with are pretty smart – book and street. The biggest challenge is not the math concepts, rather, it’s keeping them motivated, focused, and aware of why they would want to learn math at these levels in the first place. Based on my background and experience in mechanical design and engineering, I try to use that to provide a context and basis in reality. I’ll admit that at first it wasn’t as well-received as computer games, but a few of the students have shown some real interest in possibly pursuing a college degree in some sort of technology.

I’ve been big on MCAD’s influence and involvement with the educational community for a long time, so I was very interested in this announcement. SolidWorks has also taken a big interest and role with regard to education, as have some of its competitors – afterall, these are tomorrow’s customers. However, SolidWorks’ commitment is genuine and very supportive to its educational aspirations and endeavors.

Although it is currently very young, the CAD Academy is a collaboration of industry professionals, vendors, and educators creating a comprehensive and affordable pre-engineering/pre-architecture program for the education community. The goal of The CAD Academy is to inspire a new generation of engineers and architects through the implementation of industry leading software, curriculum, and multimedia content. Let’s focus here, however, on the MCAD side of the equation. With what it includes, the SolidWorks Education Edition 2007-2008 is a roughly equivalent hybrid of SolidWorks Office Professional and Premium. This time around the Education Edition has COSMOSWorks Advanced
Professional and COSMOSFloWorks Professional Edition analysis software for performing the analysis tasks undertaken by a typical design engineer. Student guides are now available from the Design Library embedded in SolidWorks Education Edition 2007-2008.

SolidWorks Education Edition 2007-2008 includes an enhanced DWGeditor tool for editing existing 2D DWG/DXF drawings and learning 2D design techniques – yes, there is still a place for 2D. SolidWorks supplies three DWGeditor licenses for every licensed version of SolidWorks Education Edition. Cost for the SolidWorks Education Edition starts at around $1,000 for 10 seats and goes down from there, based on the total number of licenses purchased.

To supplement the software, SolidWorks has created a new curriculum portal (
http://www.solidworks.com/curriculum) that includes several new resources for educators, including lessons, projects, exercises, answer keys, movies, white papers, PowerPoint presentations, and case studies, as well as expanded course-specific curricula for design analysis. The portal complements the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) weblog (
http://blogs.solidworks.com/teacher) that SolidWorks launched last year, and now offers more than 100 free lessons. SolidWorks says it receives more than 10,000 visits per month.

“Enticing students toward engineering careers means showing them what they can do with 3D CAD software,” said Marie Planchard , director of worldwide education markets at SolidWorks Corp. “Giving them integrated design and analysis lets them see how projects they’ve worked on will behave in the real world. More importantly, it gives them a taste of how professionals work every day. That’s a critical step in growing the global population of skilled engineers.” Her words echo my sentiments almost exactly. I’ve enjoyed immensely the challenges and rewards of being a mechanical designer and engineer, and would hope that I can instill upon the next
generation what the profession is all about with my enthusiasm that “engineering is cool.”

The Week’s Top 5

At MCADCafé we track many things, including the stories that have attracted the most interest from our subscribers. Below are the five news items that were the most viewed during last week.

Autodesk announced that it is a recipient of a 2007 Rising Star Award from the
Global Technology Distribution Council (GTDC). The award honors Autodesk as the fastest-growing software manufacturer in its revenue class, among firms doing business with GTDC member distributors. The GTDC Rising Star awards program recognizes the success IT manufacturers and publishers are having in partnership with IT distributors. The GTDC presents awards in each of three revenue categories based on GTDC member sales and vendors' U.S. revenue growth, as reported by industry research organization, The NPD Group, in its Distributor Track service. Autodesk was selected as the first-place winner in the $100 million to $500 million category. GTDC distributor members provide
products and services to solution providers and resellers supporting end users of all sizes, including the SMB market. GTDC members represent more than $100 billion in annual worldwide sales.

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-- Jeff Rowe, MCADCafe.com Contributing Editor.


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