Learning to model in 3D

One of the more popular questions among designers and engineers in the 3D world is “What CAD package do you use”. There are a number out on the market, all with various features and niches, and choosing the right ones to learn and master can be a difficult tasks. It is common for professionals to utilize a number of programs for various tasks but for the most part settling on a single CAD for a majority of projects is the way to go.

So which to pick, and what to consider. Do you go for the market leader? The low cost option? The free open source package? Do you need special features for electronic layouts? A good 2D>3D option? What do most customers use? Will my files be compatible? Will I have to upgrade hardware?

All of the above are good to consider before signing up, but even better is managing to get a free license to test things out. Many products offer trials for 30 or 60 days. Earlier in 2009 one of the big players in the industry, Solidworks, began offering the “Engineering Stimulus Package“. This gave a free student version of Solidworks standard to any out of work engineer as a way to allow for continued learning. Along with the trial license comes access to the built in tutorials, forum access and a free voucher to take the CSWA (Certified Solidworks Associate) test.

In my past job I was fortunate enough to attend Solidworks World in San Diego where I got to take the CSWA so for my own personal Engineering Stimulus Package the end game will be the CSWP (Certified Solidworks Professional) exam.

The CSWP covers a variety of materials from basic modeling to Simulations and stress testing. There are a few copies of sample tests floating around.

CSWP 2008 Sample Test

Solidworks Training Files

There are a number of training programs available through private companies and through Solidworks VARs. Opinions vary on the worth of each of these as most of them are rather costly. My suggestion ,having seen the test once before and understanding mostly what it is about, is to forgo the CSWP specifics and to focus more on learning the program than learning for the test. A robust knowledge of design principles and an understanding of the given tutorials should be sufficient to allow a motivated user to gain certification.

The next few posts will be primarily about learning and training for the CSWP. In addition to the listed resources I also have access to the MyIGetIt library of training courses. With any luck, in a few short weeks this blog will contain more information of 3D design as well as a snazzy CSWP logo to announce my passing.

If you’ve taken or plan to take the CSWP exam please share your plan of attack or any tips/tricks/things to remember for others.

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