SolidWorks Helps Ohio State Students Focus on Creativity and Innovation

The world is full of great ideas that never turn into reality. SolidWorks Education Edition software is helping more than 1,000 engineering and industrial design students at The Ohio State University get great ideas out of their heads and onto the computer screen, where they can become great designs.

SolidWorks is the Ohio State mechanical engineering department’s primary design software and is also woven through the design department’s industrial design curriculum. Students and faculty say that the software’s primary benefit is that it enables students to express their ideas quickly, easily, and accurately, without struggling through long learning curves or wasting time on routine manual tasks.

“SolidWorks does a good job of getting out of the way and letting the students focus on innovating,” said Lisa Abrams, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Ohio State. “They’re able to focus more on design and creativity and less on learning the software. With SolidWorks, it’s not as much about learning the software as about learning modeling, which is the real objective.”

SolidWorks software helps students learn everything from rendering basic shapes to designing equipment such as capping machines for regionally headquartered companies like Procter & Gamble. Students in Ohio State’s industrial design program use SolidWorks to design parts for consumer goods and refine products such as radios and housewares for ergonomics. The software’s automation and intuitive interface let students concentrate on developing their ideas instead of learning how to use their tools, according to Ohio State educators.

In addition to high performance software, the university wanted a provider that acted like a partner rather than a vendor. Gary Kinzel, a mechanical engineering professor who participated in the decision to bring in SolidWorks software, said Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks (DS SolidWorks) and authorized reseller 3DVision Technologies have acted as much like “friends” as technology providers in responding to the university’s needs.

“We were looking for a company that would work with us when we wanted to do something unusual with the software,” Kinzel said. “We didn’t want to be in a situation where we had a complex problem we needed advice on, then were handed to first-level support. We deal directly with the reseller, and it’s obvious that they have a close relationship with DS SolidWorks. That works for us.”

The ability to translate unformed ideas into models on a screen gives Ohio State students an edge in the job market after they graduate. Fifth-year mechanical engineering student Michael Amendola had co-op jobs designing quality-control gauges for a division of Crown Cork & Seal and robotic arms at Rimrock Corporation as part of his studies. Both companies used SolidWorks, which meant Amendola could get to work right away instead of taking time to learn new design software.

“SolidWorks makes it easy to get ideas from my head into the computer,” he said. “The interface isn’t distracting and the features are easy to use. If I want to draw a cube, I can do it in seconds. At Rimrock, I often had multiple ideas I wanted to express to my boss. When I presented them to him in SolidWorks, it was easy to switch configurations and add some animation to help communicate those complex concepts in a simple, understandable way.”

Major engineering schools all over the world, including Dartmouth, Cambridge University, the Indian Institute of Technology, Polytechnic Institute of Turin, TU Dresden, and the University of Chicago use SolidWorks software to teach design principles. The SolidWorks Education Edition license grants students easy access to the software on their own computers, which helps students master skills that will help them in the job market.

“It’s mandatory to have CAD skills in the professional world, and SolidWorks seems more popular than ever,” said Jim Arnold, a professor of design at Ohio State. “We never get any complaints about teaching SolidWorks.”

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