pic: Solidworks Certificate

I took a Solid Modeling class at my college last semester, as is required for every ME. I showed the professor something I’d done two years ago to ask how “in depth” we would be going with the program. His response? “This will be an easy class for you.” I did however learn many new cool features of the program that I was unaware of. However, the most interesting thing in the class was the certificate I got at the end, or rather the picture in the background. If you follow the link it may look familiar:


Our final was the CSWA Exam. So for many of you who use SolidWorks with your team, you many find it very easy to pass the exam. (I passed with 235/240 in 85 minutes) More information about the exam can be found here:

Side note: Would it be possible for FIRST to make a deal with SolidWorks Corp. to make the exam more accessible to them? The current fee is $99.00

A few member of our team (including me) Just took this exam and this is the certificate that they gave us. I was blown away when I also saw the certificate.

that’s neat, it was also posted on here a few years ago:


I wonder how it ended up on the certificate?

Did you all pay the $99 fee? I was hoping for a discount as well.

How ironic. I was just talking to a guy from solidworks on facebook last night (Greg Solidworks) about getting mine.
I am planning to get my cerificate soon. And that is really cool that the picture is that from Chief Delphi :smiley:

How useful has this certificate become to everyone?

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?
Parts modeling

  • Prismatic bodies
  • Contour and surfacing
  • Sheet metal
  • Welding
  • How do you do sub-assemblies?
  • Do you put in every fastener in your assemblies? Pros and cons?
  • Mechanisms
  • 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.

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I know our teacher got an educational 45 seat license and they came with tests for us to take, and that’s how we took them.

I’d echo a lot of Todd’s comments. My experience has been that certifications such as these are not a good indicator of how well someone will do as a modeler or drafter.

Unfortunately, these classes don’t really teach enough about developing consistent, repeatable processes for documenting mechanical designs and that is often what can separate someone with acceptable design/draft capabilities from someone who is an expert. Not only is it important that you produce finished models and drawings that are accurate and clear, but that those same models and drawings may be easily updated or changed later. I can’t count the number of hours I’ve lost trying to figure out how or why a part or assembly was modeled a particular way while trying to make a change; designing things quickly for an FRC robot is a completely different animal than working with a real product with real requirements for documentation and support.

“Side note: Would it be possible for FIRST to make a deal with SolidWorks Corp. to make the exam more accessible to them? The current fee is $99.00”

Solidworks already offers the test for free to FIRST teams. If you have already requested solidworks software for your team, then there should have been a letter that came with the disks that contained the activation code for the software and also a voucher code for the test. That code acts as a coupon code for the test and covers the full $99. You can probably PM Marie Planchard for more information about anything solidworks related, she is the Director of World Education Markets for solidworks.

As for how useful the certificate is, I got it about a year ago and it helped me get an internship after my senior year in high school. It probably isn’t that useful for most college students, but in my case it showed that I knew at least a small amount about solidworks, which they wanted to see before they would give me the job.

Any school on subscription can apply to become a CSWA Provider at www.solidworks.com/cswa.

If a team designs their robot in SolidWorks and has a teacher or mentor who will proctor the CSWA exam, then the SolidWorks EDU team will provide the $99 CSWA exam at no charge. The CSWA exam is given in 10 langugaes.

If you want to take the CSWA exam, then you must prepare. It is not easy.

  1. You must know how to read an engineering drawing.
  2. You must be able to create a part/assembly accurately from the engineering drawing and understand how to calculate mass properties.
  3. You must understand design intent so you can modify dimensions of a part/assembly without messing up the model.

Tips: Take the sample exam at www.solidworks.com/cswa and review the cswa tip videos on youtube. Also, there are tips posted on our www.Facebook.com/SolidWorksEducation page.

The CSWA is the first of 8 SolidWorks exams that you can take over your professional career. CSWA can differentiate you in a very competitive job market or a college application. You will also need the design, manufacturing, and presentation experience too. The CSWA exam is a part of your portfolio of many tools and skills.

We are fulling hundreds of requests now for robot teams. Our sponsorship has opened at www.solidworks.com/StudentSponsorship.

Give me some time and I will set up an automatic process for a team to apply for CSWA sponsorship too. For now, go design, build, and test robots to prepare.

And congratulations to Rion Atkinson for passing the CSWA and for creating the beautiful model on our current certicate. Marie

As a tech support intern at a Solidworks re-seller I feel the need to step forward and answers some questions. The classes we offer always answer the tough questions, we have customers come in all of the time asking extremely tough questions, and the instructor will take the time to answer them. This could just be where you are taking your classes. Also the certifications are a HUGE thing! Granted the CSWA may be able to be passed with some experience and $100, but the other exams CSWP all the way to the highest level the CSWE are difficult. In fact if you look on the certification page on Solidworks.com you can see some of the hard topics discussed (Surfaces for example). So I think it is wrong to say that these don’t mean much. In the end the certification exams teach a lesson that many people in the industry lack, and that is design intent, the ability to see a model and look for areas that may need to change, and designing them to be editable in a way where the model does not blow up. It is also a very elite group of Solidworks users, the CSWE only has I believe around 900 in the entire world! So if you work all the way up to that level I can’t believe that this won’t help you find employment.

It’s like asking “Will my CPR certificate allow me to practice medicine?”

Is it going to help? Yes, and I mean -the class- is going to help you get the basics down and give you proper understanding of the tools and capabilities of the program. But does that certificate mean you have what it takes to do a job? Not so much. In order to get a job where you’ll be using SolidWorks or ProE or ALL of the programs you need to prove mastery and competent use of the program to solve problems.

The certificate might help you in smaller businesses that simply look for something on a resume to easily recognize one person’s ability over another… but in the long run you’ll be much better off with a portfolio of work that proves your mastery of the program.

Any FIRST team that designs with SolidWorks is eligible to take the CSWA exam. Your teacher must go to www.solidworks.com/cswa and fill out the CSWA Provider Application. We will provide the $99 exam to any FIRST member at no charge that is offered through an instructor or mentor in a proctored environment. However, you must be prepared to take the exam. 1. Ability to read an engineering drawing and create a part that is 100% accurate according to the dimensions, materials, and engineering notes. 2. Understand how assemblies fit and know how to use imported geometry 3. Know design intent of the model, so if there is a change, you can modify dimensions and instances quickly. 4. Calculate center of mass and define coordinate systems. 5.Take the sample exam at www.solidworks.com/cswa. Marie