I’ll give you my personal opinion about certificates like this. I’m speaking as a senior mechanical engineer who has had input on hiring decisions as well as acted as an engineering manager. People who make hiring decisions know that anyone with a passing knowledge of the software and a hundred bucks can get a certificate like this.
This is going to sound harsh, but I have been through the types of training classes that software vendors (like ProE and Solidworks) provide. The classes are set up in a step by step, “press this button”, “enter this number” fashion. The projects aren’t designed to be difficult, to make you learn. They are designed to be easy, to minimize problems and questions that could slow down the class. If you ask a tough question, the instructors response will often be, “Sorry, that’s outside the scope of this class.” So, the fact that you have a certificate tells me that you at least had the self motivation to take the class, and you have seen the basics of the software. It tells me nothing about your proficiency using the software.
The only thing that will make you proficient with solid modeling software is using it. A class may get you started, but in the real world, you will face problems you’ll never see in a training class. As an example, download the STEP file of the long shaft version of the AndyMark super shifter. When you import that model into ProE, the output shaft part doesn’t import correctly and is missing surfaces. That model needs to be repaired and turned into a true solid model, with proper mass properties. This is a very common situation in real world design engineering. You will get models from your customers that come from different CAD packages, and you will have to make them work, even when the data is corrupt and the models broken. This is the kind of “messiness” an instructor won’t want to talk about in a training class.
I would be much more impressed if you told me you used Solidworks to design the drivetrain of your teams FIRST robot, and showed me a picture of that assembly. Then I would have a conversation with you about exactly what you did (vs the other students and mentors on your team). From this conversation I’d see how you handled detailed questions, (did you maintain eye contact, can you clearly explain yourself), and evaluate your true level of experience with the software.
Here is the kind of information I would be looking for: (taken from the notes I use when interviewing potential new hires)
What solid modeling software packages have you used?
- Prismatic bodies
- Contour and surfacing
- Sheet metal
- How do you do sub-assemblies?
- Do you put in every fastener in your assemblies? Pros and cons?
- How many detailed parts drawings have you done? 10s, 100s, 1000s
- Do you prefer conventional dims or GDT? Why?
- Do you prefer one part or multiple parts on a drawing? Why?
- Are you familiar with composites drawings?
- Are you familiar with welding drawings?
- Are you familiar with wiring/cabling drawings?
- Are you familiar with electrical schematics/block diagrams?
- Are you familiar with hydraulic/pneumatic circuit diagrams?
- How many assembly drawings have you done? 10s, 100s, 1000s
- Do you prefer BOMs on the face of the print or in a BOM document? Why?
- What is your experience with smart vs dumb BOM tables?
- Explain how revisions are done on your drawings.
As a “fresh out” I’m not going to expect that you have much, if any, background necessary to answer these questions. But, I’m going to be looking for how you handle the questions. In my mind I’m considering how you will handle yourself in an in-house design review, or in front of a customer in an external design review.
Reading this, you may understand why the “judged” awards at a competition are set up the way they are. You aren’t just being judged for an award, you are getting practice in real world communications skills of interviewing for a job, and interfacing with customers.