August 17, 2009
SolidWorks “Engineering Stimulus Package” Builds New Skills
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Jeff Rowe - Managing Editor

by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
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Nick Cook wasn’t looking for work until the economy “turned my 401K into a 201K.”

Early in his search, the retired aerospace engineer heard of a possible opening at a local company, Aerocet (, that makes advanced composite aircraft floats for seaplanes. But there was a catch: Aerocet engineers use SolidWorks software, yet Cook had used a different program his whole career.

Cook contacted Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp. and learned that the company gives free SolidWorks licenses to displaced designers and engineers, so he downloaded the software. A week later, he let Aerocet know he was getting up to speed on their preferred CAD program. Impressed with his initiative, not to mention his resume, the Priest River, Idaho, company hired him.

“I’m grateful SolidWorks was available to me,” Cook says. “It’s a real service for DS SolidWorks to offer it to job seekers who need it. It helped me land a truly perfect job working on some exciting products. If the Engineering Stimulus Package (ESP) Program had not been available, I’m not sure what I would have done.”

Cook’s colleagues at Aerocet appreciate the program, too. “We have a high-caliber engineering team with uncompromising standards, and Nick is a perfect fit,” said Operations Manager Garry Hojan. “His initiative to start learning SolidWorks confirmed his passion for joining our company, and he hit the ground running.”

Cook is just one of the success stories emerging from the SolidWorks Engineering Stimulus Package program ( unveiled April 6 to give job-seekers a chance to learn valuable new career skills in computer-aided design. A recent DS SolidWorks survey of ESP participants found that:
  • More than 9,000 displaced designers and engineers have taken advantage of the free SolidWorks CAD software.
  • More than one in 10 respondents had secured jobs by mid-July.
  • More than 80 participants have become Certified SolidWorks Associates (
  • CSWAs).
  • Another 253 are actively seeking certification.
  • More than 60 authorized SolidWorks resellers have provided free training to ESP participants in North America and Europe.
  • Resellers have offered more than 100 training sessions.

  • The ESP also helped authorized SolidWorks reseller FISHER/UNITECH build on the success of its own CAD skills (re)training program. “After learning SolidWorks basics, most participants were eager to extend their experience with SolidWorks for an additional 90 days through the ESP,” said President and CEO Charles Hess. “These individuals were already good designers and engineers, and now they are becoming very, very good at SolidWorks. They will make fine hires by the lucky employers who get them. In fact, several have already secured new jobs where SolidWorks experience was a deciding factor.”

    The ESP gives free SolidWorks CAD software licenses, training videos and tutorials, networking, certification, and potential job leads to any job seeker. “The ESP expresses our gratitude to the global community of users who have made us the success we are,” said Fielder Hiss, vice president of product management for DS SolidWorks. “We’re mindful that they have placed their faith and trust in us from the earliest days of the company, and we are paying that generosity back. The ESP is exactly what we should be doing to provide some assistance to our constituents at this challenging time.”

    The SolidWorks Engineering Stimulus Package includes:
  • Software: a 90-day license of the SolidWorks Student Design Kit software for non-commercial use, with tutorials and documentation, plus the SolidWorks
  • eDrawings email-enabled file sharing tool;
  • Training: Hands-on test drives and other training from participating SolidWorks value-added resellers (VARs) around the world;
  • Networking: Access to the SolidWorks Customer Portal for support, networking, and discussion; and
  • Certification: Free testing to become a
  • CSWA, a credential that documents SolidWorks competence and distinguishes job candidates for selective employers.

    The ESP program’s success is being replicated around the world. It was launched in Europe May 5 and will soon expand to Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore, and India.

    To participate in or learn more about the SolidWorks Engineering Stimulus Package, visit
    SolidProfessor, a company focused on creating on-demand knowledge resources for users of SolidWorks and SolidWorks-related software, is DS SolidWorks’ official online training partner in the Engineering Stimulus Package program.

    Commentary By Jeffrey Rowe, Editor

    Although SolidWorks is not the only MCAD or technical software company to offer generous assistance to displaced workers (see the Autodesk announcement below in “The Week’s Top 5”), it’s especially interesting because of the scope of the program itself and the degree to which its community is also involved. Those in the SolidWorks Engineering Stimulus Package game include not only the company itself, but also resellers, partners, and users – a true community effort that is one of the basic tenets of SolidWorks’ success over the years. It’s an especially comprehensive effort that involves the company’s software, training, certification, and networking – all
    necessary elements for the program’s success, as well as the success of the participants.

    Of course, the software companies are not the only ones involved in re-educating displaced workers in the technical arena. Several states are offering free or low-cost programs at community colleges, technical/vocational schools, and even state colleges and universities.

    If you don’t have any of these physical educational resources in your area and can’t attend classroom sessions (which I can’t in semi-rural Colorado), there’s always the virtual route and eLearning. Some of my favorites are I GET IT, Solid Professor, and even There are also a number of educational blogs and forums for just about any technical software you can think of. Finally, don’t overlook the vendor’s sponsored or independent user groups that meet either physically at a location or virtually on the Web. They are great not just for educational purposes, but also networking for potential employment, as well.

    I know a number of people who own/operate or work for small- and medium-sized companies (design/engineering firms, machine shops, toolmakers, foundries, etc.) who are taking advantage of the current down trend in their businesses to re-educate themselves in a variety of ways. Some are learning (or relearning) CAD/CAM/CAE packages; some are learning entirely new skills, such as reverse engineering or simulation/analysis for taking their businesses in new directions; some are getting more comfortable with PDM; while others are getting acquainted with social networking tools, such as Twitter, Plaxo, and Facebook.

    While some may consider this reinvention frivolous, I think a lot more people are realizing (finally) that learning truly is a lifelong process. You can’t sit on and rely what you learned 20, 10, 5, 3, or even 1 year ago. I’ve been impressed by the number of people I know who are not just complaining about the present and future, but are actually doing something about improving their prospects today and tomorrow. I encourage these folks to keep at it, because I believe that over the long haul, they will likely be the recipients of a successful and prosperous future.


    On one hand I was surprised, but on the other hand I wasn’t that the lead story for the last issue of MCADCafe Weekly entitled,
    “Open Source An Alternative CAD Source?” got such a broad range of responses. It actually generated the largest amount of feedback that we have received in a long time. Some was positive about the open source software movement, some was skeptical and negative, but most was somewhere in the middle. Following is one of the more interesting and thoughtful responses we received:

    “I love the "gift/service," utopian concept of Open Source. The idealist in me gives an enthusiastic hurrah for the little David who's pelting increasingly effective stones at the big greedy commercial Goliath.

    But the thing that nags at the back of mind when I think of Open Source is my assumption that open source developers are able to spend free time on OSS because of the fact that their livelihoods are secure thanks to day jobs with commercial software manufacturers. I'm extremely curious how OSS developers' efforts would be funded if OSS products toppled and killed off Goliath and, as a result, the OSS developers found themselves with no income source. I don't suspect many creativity-driven, introverted developers would easily slip into the OSS-spawned service roles that generate income.

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    -- Jeff Rowe, Contributing Editor.

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