John McEleney visits Huntsville

History was made in many ways on June 11, 2007 in Huntsville, AL.  SolidWorks CEO John McEleney started off his Southern Swing user group tour with a visit to our North Alabama SolidWorks User Group meeting.  This was John’s first trip to Huntsville to visit a SolidWorks User Group.  The users in the area responded with a record turnout. All total there were 55 attendees at the event.  To say this event was a blast would be a vast understatement!

Food for the event was provided by Guthries.  The users were treated to chicken fingers, fries, cole slaw, Texas toast, iced tea.  We also had chocolate chip cookies for dessert! (My wife loves to bake and our group loves to eat!)  The strong reimbursement & support program that SolidWorks has in place for user groups enables group leadership to provide food for events like this without having to deal with funding issues.  I bring this up because sometimes I don’t think enough is said about this.  The program headed up by Richard Doyle is what allows us to put events like this on for our users.  Speaking of Richard, he was also able to make it to Huntsville for the meeting. (Great to see you again Richard!) More on Richard a little later.

After we all finished stuffing our faces, yours truly quickly ran through the group announcements.  By 6:00pm, it was time for John McEleney to begin his presentation which was on the History of CAD.  I have been fortunate enough to witness several of John’s speeches throughout many years and they are ALWAYS interesting.  He talked about the early days of CAD.  He revealed some VERY interesting facts about the vision that some of the early pioneers of Computer Aided Design and Solid Modeling had and how amazingly similar they are to CAD today.  Other topics discussed were some information on the early days of SolidWorks.  When the company was started, it was called Winchester Design Systems.  As they moved along in developing a product, a new name was given which is of course is the name we all know so well today.  John shared with us some of the other names that were under consideration when SolidWorks was chosen.  Can you imagine what it would be like if the name “PowerDesign Corporation” was selected instead?  I agree with John when he said that he thought the right name was picked!

Other topics that John discussed dealt with Globalization and some really interesting insight into how some of the new features of SolidWorks 2008 were developed.  John is an absolutely amazing speaker.  I had at large number of users who shared this opinion with me after the meeting was over.

Richard Doyle was up next.  Richard has been giving a Tips and Tricks Trivia Contest presentation on several occasions recently and as usual it was a BIG hit with the crowd!  Users take a timed test with 21 questions.  After all the answer sheets are turned in, Richard goes through each answer and includes a live demonstration in SolidWorks to explain many of the detailed questions on the software.  A big thanks to Gary Hall for grading the answer sheets while Richard went through his presentation. First place in the contest went to Richard Hall of Westwind Technologies Corporation.  Brian McElyea (The CADFANATIC) of Miltec Missles was second.  Richard won a 3DConnexion SpaceNavigator while Brian won a VERY nice SolidWorks hat!  3DConnexion continues to show why they have won the award for SWUGN Participating Partner of the year two years running!  A big thanks to them for donating this GREAT prize!

What an absolutely awesome event!  I’d like to thank a few people for helping make this event the huge success that it was.  First I’d like to thank John McEleney and Richard Doyle for taking time out of their busy schedules to attend the event.  I’d like to thank the SolidWorks Resellers who helped promote the event.  Representatives from Alacad, Concepts in Production, & ModernTech Mechanical were all there for the event.  Next I’d like to thank the members of our group who helped me with the event:  Gary Hall, Tracey Christensen, Johnnie Paul, Brian McElyea, John Petek, & Ben Yeskie.  I couldn’t have done it without you!  Thanks to Dynetics for providing a state of the art conference room/facility for the event (and all of our other user group events).

I said something after this event that I haven’t ever said before.  “It’s going to be hard to top this one!”  Thanks to all our group members for making this the most successful NASWUG event in history.

Brian McElyea and Richard Doyle have great posts on their Blogs about this event.  Brian was able to take lots of pictures and he has them posted on his Blog.  Brian also videotaped the event and will be working on getting it produced to a format so that we can share it with everyone.

Stay tuned….MUCH MUCH more to come soon!