Mike and I met about 5 years ago at a Soldiworks User group conference in Los Angeles. At the time he was working for a local plastic molding manufacturer while serving as the leader of the local SWUG. Since then he has moved to a new position at Solidworks Corporation where he is part of a team of four focusing on the certification end of the business. The certification specialist are stationed around the world, Atlanta, New England, Las Vegas, and Germany. Since the software is used by customers around the world, and certification tests are used by VARs and users worldwide, this certainly helps them in their mission to be a customer facing portion of the Solidworks Organization. Mike’s role involves managing the existing content for all certification tests, launching new tests, updating outdated tests and working with the VARs on an annual basis to make sure all certified partners are up to date on the latest release of the software. He claims to attend over a dozen user group meetings each year where he makes presentations on a variety of different topics and gathers first hand information from dedicated users.
We had the chance to discuss a bit about where growth was happening for Solidworks and the impact that the certification exams have had on the CAD community. With 11 total certification exams there is a lot going on. He also was able to share some insight on when the new Solidworks Certification Exam (CSWP, CSWE) will be updated as well as the upcoming CSWE event at Solidworks World.
3DEngr: Having taken the test so many years ago I wanted to know how often you update the exam? Is an old certification still relevant?
Mike: Most of the exams we update about every 3 years. The current CSWP exam is around 2 years old. The CSWE is coming on 3 years old. So I'm looking at editing that one next year.
We have support exams at the vars that are updated every year. That means writing an exam of 50-60 questions that are just about the new release. Everyone is required to pass it by June of the next year.
3DEngr: So who does all of the actual question writing for each of the exams?
Mike:It's Avelino and myself. We are the only two developing content. I’d say we do about 95% of the question writing. We pick a core set of users we send out the exam to and then they give us feedback. They'll say "What about a question like this". Stuff comes from the company as well and sometimes. The sustainability exam - all that came from people on that team.
|Solidworks Sustainability Dashboard|
3DEngr: Are you still reaching out to outside people, are there VARs?
Mike: We definitely go to customers - we have an in box with customers writing in and we've developed those contacts and users at user group meetings.
There are two guys that I went to that do really cool models that I could talk to. I just went to them for a few items for the latest test we were writing where we needed some cool things to show. For the new plastics test, with plastics being my background, I have a few contacts that I send it to for beta testing.
It was nice to hear that all of the resellers are required to pass certification. I’m sure the best ones know they should do this for the health of their business but Solidworks is also being diligent about requiring top notch service out of their front line, the Value Added Resellers. Mike went on to describe the process of handing out certificates to instructors, those people who are skilled enough to not just use Solidworks but teach it to others
Mike: We even have instructor certifications. We do those live, either at a VAR, or sometimes at a separate site. They make their presentation and we hammer them with questions to see how they do. It's fun because you see some good ones. After sitting through their presentation you want to sit in one of their classes and go learn something.
Check out the rest of my talk with Mike:
Part 2: What benefit the CSWP provides to designers and engineers.
Part 3: The New CSWE Event at Solidworks World 2013 in Orlando
For more details on the CSWP check out the main page.