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SolidWorks in U.S. Universities

Many U.S. universities now include SolidWorks training as part of their curriculum. This is expanding rapidly largely due to the growing popularity of 3D printing. Here are some of the most popular programs featuring this sophisticated CAD software:

The UA 3D Printing Lab is free to anyone on campus to test the bounds of the relatively new technology of additive manufacturing, the process of creating objects by layering material on itself. In its first semester, the lab has already attracted faculty and staff from art, theater, biology, engineering and the other sciences eager to use the technology.

The lab is a collection of new 3D printers along with printers that were already in the College of Engineering, said Dr. Andrew Graettinger, lab director and associate professor in the department of civil, construction and environmental engineering. There are three desktop-sized printers for smaller jobs, two commercial-scale printers for intricate or larger jobs and a wax printer used to make parts that can be later cast in metal. There is also a 3D scanner that can create three-dimensional models from real-world objects. The 3D printers generate accurate representations of parts designed in several software programs including SolidWorks, AutoCAD and Google SketchUp.

SolidWorks 2015-16 is currently available for student and department installations. The version of SolidWorks available is tied to the academic calendar and new versions are typically made available to us during summer semester. After testing, we upgrade the labs in preparation for fall semester.

There are three editions of SolidWorks available and each is intended for a specific use:

The Student Engineering Kit is the full version that matches the version installed in our labs feature for feature, however its license allows it to be installed on student laptops or home computers and activates directly with SolidWorks over the internet. The activation is valid for 1 year, at which point you will need to install the new version for the new academic year to continue using SolidWorks. Most students will want to install this edition of SolidWorks.

The Student Design Kit is similar to the Student Engineering Kit in that it is meant to be installed on laptops or home computers, however it is a slimmed down version of SolidWorks and is missing several features that are available in the Student Engineering Kit. License activation is identical to the Student Engineering Kit described above. You will likely only want this edition of SolidWorks if you have drive space limitations on your computer or simply don’t need the missing features.

The Education Edition is intended to be installed on College of Engineering department desktops. It requires access to CADE’s network license server in order to run. So, while it can be installed on home computers, doing so requires either an active connection to CADE’s VPN, or a monthly license borrowing procedure in order for the licensing to work properly. This is typically NOT the edition you want if you are installing SolidWorks on a laptop or home computer.

MindWorks is a physical and virtual space, but equally important, it is a cultural experienceThe purpose of MindWorks is to motivate next generation designers across multiple engineering disciplines and equip them with best practices of designers, helping them find innovative solutions to today's challenging engineering problems.
Physically, there are artifacts including mechanical models, wall decorations, design guides, and vendor catalogs, computer projection equipment, a meeting place and white boards. These artifacts focus on solid mechanics, machine design, and product realization.
Virtually, there are just-in-time resources for project learning in computer aided design, design for manufacturing, and computer modeling.  Advanced use of SolidWorks and CATIA as well as lean manufacturing in a prototyping shop are also supported through this portal.  Many of the learning objects contained in MindWorks archives began as previous class projects, capturing knowledge and best practices, and now serve as a legacy for others to build upon.
Culturally, there is a thriving community of undergraduate engineering students, graduate student leaders in the Idaho Engineering Works, professional staff, design project sponsors, alumni in regional industry, and prospective engineering students that is a residential design experience of choice.  This is showcased annually at the University of Idaho Engineering Design Expo.
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