Learning CAD software can be faster, simpler and more enjoyable if it's seasoned with hands-on exercises and the personal interactions of a classroom environment. At least, that's the conclusion of CAD users who attended one of the free Pro/ENGINEER workshops sponsored by PTC.
"The best thing about the workshop was gaining familiarity with the user interface," says Shawn Kelley, an engineering drafting technician for Cummins MerCruiser Diesel in Charleston, SC. "You had someone there to answer your questions and walk you through the stumbling blocks to understanding the product."
Kelley says that the workshop offered a structured, comprehensive overview of Pro/ENGINEER's Wildfire user interface, and made it easier to learn the nuances of new product features. "The workshop will definitely help out with our company's transition to the new software," Kelly says.
Dan Wallace, an engineer with MedSelect, Inc., says he went to the workshop because he had seen a demo on Wildfire and was eager to try it. The instructors conducted the session as a combination of lecture and hands-on experience with the product. He says, "They gave us enough information to be dangerous, and then they let us be dangerous."
Wallace says that interacting with other engineers at the workshop was great. "When one person asked a question, we all learned from the answer. We learned from each other as well as from the instructors."
Kelley of Cummins says one of the weaknesses of Internet training is the "railroading effect" and the fact that it's boring looking at a screen all day without the interaction of working with other people. He says the "railroading effect" means you can't deviate from the curriculum, understand why software features are implemented a certain way, or what you do in a specific situation to use the product effectively. "I don't want to downplay Internet training because you can learn a lot, but it's better to be in person and in a classroom."
Both Kelley and Wallace attended the workshops to learn more about Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire's revamped user interface. Wallace says that before the workshop, he was nervous because of all the changes to the interface that he had heard about. But he says now that Wildfire is more user friendly that we thought it would be, and it still feels like the old Pro/E.
"The cleaner user interface makes the product easier to use," adds Kelly. He says that he likes Wildfire's ability to change options, and built-in motion capabilities that provide an ability to create video files. Part of the workshop included animating a gas engine with an attached blower. Attendees animated the combustion process, including the rotation of the engine and blower. In putting together assemblies, the Pro/ENGINEER software provides the ability to define joints and motion mechanisms in the assembly definition. "You simply took an assembly, assigned a rotational speed to it, and it took off," says Kelly.
Wallace and Kelley both recommended the Pro/ENGINEER workshops to other CAD users as a way to learn the software and the environment it creates to learn from other users.
"I can't imagine how to do my job without parametric solid modeling, to achieve what we achieve in the time we achieve it," says Kelley. "The software is phenomenal and performs great for us. It has all the functionality we need and then some, and I'm always learning new things and new ways of using it."
Attendees say they get new ideas--from fellow users and instructors--at the PTC Hands-on Workshops.