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Happy Sweet 16, SolidWorks!!! And THANK YOU!

Sweet 16That’s right! On a historic day in November of 1995, SolidWorks 95 was first released to the public.

Then, I was still a year away from graduating from Western Michigan University with a degree in Engineering Graphics… That’s a Mechanical Engineering degree with an extra emphasis on Computers and Software tools. I was using tools like SDRC Ideas and Cadkey to do my Senior Design Project. BOY, if I only knew what my future had in store for me…

When I graduated in December of ’96, the automotive job market I was preparing myself to enter had grown quite stagnant. Funny how that seems to happen every 10 or 15 years. In any event, while filling the hours delivering pizza and looking for a job with anyone who would give me a chance, I stumbled upon a job posting in the Free Press for a position using AutoCad. Well, after one of the worst job interviews I’ve ever given, I was [much to my surprise] offered a different position… one involving a tool my ‘interviewer’ described simply as a “Windows based Solid Modeling Application.”

My initial reaction… SNOOZE!!

You see, I graduated from a school where we had ‘big UNIX workstations’ and an ‘advanced VAX VMS network’… and even there I couldn’t rotate a shaded model in SDRC Ideas. The SUN Sparkstations simply didn’t have the horsepower needed.

“Windows Solid Modeling?” No way can this be good.

Then it happened. They fired up the latest version of a software called SolidWorks 97.  He then proceeded to quickly draw a Sketch and Extrude it as a Shaded Model… AND ROTATE IT as if it was spinning like a top!! My jaw dropped!

Granted, this was on the best computer in the building. It was a Pentium 75MHz with 16 megs (YES, Megs) of RAM and an S3 video card with 4 megs of RAM all by itself running Windows NT 3.51.

There are really just a handful of ‘defining moments’ in one’s life. As far as careers go, THIS was mine!  The next day I was being trained in SolidWorks. Three weeks later, I WAS training SolidWorks.

The rest was history…

When I began at DASI Solutions (Microsolid Solutions at the time) there were ~3,000 SolidWorks Users Worldwide. Later that year, Dassault Systemes purchased SolidWorks Corporation for $310 Million. Not bad for a company only booking about $25 Million in sales yearly. Like the early adopters of SolidWorks, Dassault obviously saw something in the tools and the company leading them to value SolidWorks at far more than it was currently ‘worth’. Talk about ‘defining moments’.

About a month after the purchase, I found myself in Boston at my first SolidWorks Conference, a 23 year old punk kid, shaking the hand of the richest man in France… Bernard Charles, CEO, Dassault Systems.

Even to this day, people express doubt over what ‘Dassault is going to ‘do’ with SolidWorks’.  After all this time, and all the successes, is there really still a question here?

Today, the SolidWorks User Community is comprised of WELL OVER 1.5 MILLION users!  SolidWorks 2012, the 20th major release, is now live and in production all over the globe.

It sure is amazing where life takes you.

Earlier this year, I attended SolidWorks World in San Antonio, Texas, where, in the middle of the Cowboy Dance Hall I once again found myself shaking the hand of Bernard Charles. Though there was no chance of him remembering me, I was greeted with the same warm smile that greeted me in Boston 14 years prior, as I thanked him for the way SolidWorks has been left grow and prosper as it has.

More important to me, though, was a conversation I had not 24 hours ago with David Darbyshire… The very man who interviewed me on that crazy day back in 1997… in the very same office where I first interviewed. The contents of that conversation aren’t really important, just that after 15 years, we are still together and still doing it.

So in true “Acceptance Speech” format, here goes…

Thank you, Jon Hirschtick for your love of BlackJack! It’s amazing that the origins for much of this started in dark rooms at MIT and the bright lights of Vegas. It has been a privilege working with you.

Thank you, Mike Payne! Your vision and drive as VP of Product Development laid the foundation for a truly amazing CAD tool.

Thank you, Mark Schneider! You not only taught me how to demonstrate SolidWorks, but also how to best communicate its capabilities to the novice and seasoned users alike. I’m glad we are still working together to this very day.

Thank you, Joe Dunne and Rick Chin. Watching your snowmobile stage demo at SolidWorks World in ’97 sent me in the direction I’m still following today.

Ian Baxter, Mark Johnson, Ian Hogg, Elton Smith and dozens of other SolidWorks employees… Thank you for your continued support and friendship. Work isn’t “Work” with guys like you around!

Thank you to the AE Team at DASI Solutions. World Class!

Thank you to Richard and David Darbyshire (and Todd Majeski) for giving me a chance.  I hope I haven’t let you down!

Thank you to staff and developers at SolidWorks… and the entire SolidWorks community! You see, at the end of the day, everything that’s transpired and all the people I’ve interacted with over the last 15 years can be boiled down to one, simple statement:

“I’ve been able to make a decent living and provide for my family working with GREAT people doing a job I like!!  I hope those of you reading this can say the same.”

THANK YOU, SOLIDWORKS!

Darin GrosserDarin J. Grosser  – Engineer – CSWE – Elite AE
DASI Solutions, LLC

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