A bargaining chip and bragging rights.
Those are just two of the personal benefits engineer Eugene Matthews says he has received as a result of being among the first to pass PTC's Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire certification exam. He and sixty other Pro/ENGINEER users took the new exam in June at the PTC User Conference in Orlando, FL. Approximately 44 had passed as of press time.
"It provides me with a better bargaining tool for job interviews and salary negotiation," he says. And, he adds, he can take pride in being a member of an elite group of professionals using the software.
PTC announced the PTC Certified Professional Program in June. Certification Manager Niamh O'Byrne, who developed a similar program for Macromedia, says the point of the program is to build a strong community among users while helping them develop their skills in a way that has meaning in the hiring market.
"We intend to make this an industry-recognized credential," she says.
With its move toward certifying users who have achieved a high level of expertise in use of its software, PTC joins other CAD companies who have seen certification as one more way to raise their visibility and the visibility of the engineers who use their products.
SolidWorks, EDS PLM Solutions, and Dassault Systemes each have certification programs for their CAD software. "We think that the recognition in the community that comes from certification is the biggest benefit," says Jeremy Luchini, SolidWorks certification manager. "It shows that the engineers have challenged themselves to do some complex tasks with the software."
The key word in that statement is "software."
The certification programs test engineers' skills in using the software programs to do engineering. They don't test engineering knowledge itself. For example, the Pro/ENGINEER exam includes such topics as creating parts, including direct features such as holes, rounds, chamfers, and drafts; creating assemblies, including placement of constraints; modifying parts and assemblies; creating sheet metal geometry; and creating production drawings.
Still, says Jason Pancoast, an engineer with Peabody, MA-based Computer-Aided Products Inc. and a certified SolidWorks user: "It's a competency test that gives you more credibility as an accomplished user."
Of course, not every engineer feels he or she needs that edge. For example, Stephen McMahon, principal mechanical engineer at materials-testing systems manufacturer Instron Corporation, says certification isn't important to him. He uses I-DEAS CAD software from EDS PLM Solutions. "If there were two candidates for a job with exactly the same credentials and experience, certification might be a tie breaker, but not much of one," he says.
Will Matthews take the next PTC test? "I'm looking forward to preparing for taking the next exam," he says.