An English man in New York
We finally made Alex to tell us about his New York teaching experience from earlier this year. Highly motivated by the recent outcome, he found time for a post.
Hi there, my name is Alex, and as you can read in the title, I am originally from England. I started working for the Indeed team in Hamburg 3 years ago and I have about 10 years of experience building 3D models in Solidworks. A few months ago I travelled to New York in order to support and teach my New York colleagues how to build 3D models.
After arriving at JFK International Airport, I took an uber to where I would be staying, a fifth-floor apartment situated in Manhattan’s China Town. Having spent a couple of years working in Shanghai, I was struck by how much it felt like being back there – surrounded by Chinese restaurants, supermarkets and elderly locals doing Tai Chi in the parks. I was tired from the long journey from England, but excited to experience New York.
I was fortunate enough to spend my first day exploring the city, so I started in Seaport, a historic district at the bottom of Manhattan, whose unique early 19th century brick buildings are juxtaposed to the modern skyscrapers of the neighbouring financial district. From there I hopped on a ferry across the East River to Dumbo, one of the best ways to get a great view of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Let’s get down to business
After a great day of discovering the city, I was ready and excited to meet my NY colleagues. They were currently in the process of developing a range of wellness devices. Consequently, it was necessary and essential that they be properly trained in order to develop the 3d models in a successful way.
As product designers and engineers, we must become proficient in the use of 3D modelling software in order to develop and realise our designs. As I mentioned, I have extensive experience using Solidworks, so I felt confident enough to share my knowledge within the team.
The first thing I did was to analyse in depth the 2D concepts that the team had developed.
I identified that two of the most challenging skills to teach would be modelling complex surfaces with smooth curvature and creating intricate patterns.
Once I had defined these focus areas, I started by outlining the basics of how to build a good 3D model; which tools and techniques to use and when to implement them. Adrian, Lucas and Eason were eager to build on their existing 3D modelling skills and were engaged in the learning process.
I intuitively felt that the best way to explain how to construct a successful model would be to dissect one of my own creations. I did this with an old model I had built at Indeed, and it acted as a useful reference to explain each step of the process.
Since this was my first time teaching a Solidworks course, it was often a challenge to find the most effective and straightforward ways to transfer my expertise.
It is worth mentioning, that there are many ways to build a model in Solidworks, as well as different methods, this depends more on the user and their preferences, so I tried to outline different techniques and explain my preferred workflow and why I have been successful with this method in the past.
Setting up your model correctly is an important first step of the building process – a strong foundation helps ensure a stable construction. By placing front and side 2D images of your design in the 3D file, you create an underlay, which is used to build the outlines of your model. If the product you are modelling will contain internal components, you must consider where they will be positioned and how thick the walls housing them will be. This was particularly important for me to emphasise during the training, as all the designs in development had numerous components, such as motors and batteries.
Building a clean and organised model, with as few features as possible, will benefit you later on in the development process, when the client requests inevitably requests changes to the design. A stable model is quicker and easier to change without any unwanted errors.
While I tried my best to give an in depth introduction to the basics, Solidworks has a large number of capabilities and features and the best way to become a pro is to invest time practising.
Therefore, I encouraged the guys to start building their own 3D models, offering them my support and help with any questions or problems, and I must say they did great. Once the first iterations of their models were constructed, we sat together and reviewed the geometry. I showed them which tools they must use to review their surface curvature, how to interpret the results and how to use them to make improvements. Each time we did so, I was encouraged to see progress in their work and a gradually building understanding of how to master the software. In the end we not only achieved excellent results, but we also got the team to learn how to use the program while strengthening their skills as designers.
The remaining week was busy with training and passed by quickly. By Friday I was ready to return to Germany and see my family but was grateful having had to opportunity to see and work, if only briefly, in a new and exciting city.
A couple of months after my time there, I was delighted to see the results of the work we had. The team had finalised the product range we worked on together, as well as an additional range and sent us a presentation of the rendered products looking fantastic!