Two weeks ago today I was sitting in a conference room at the JW Marriott in Indianapolis, IN enjoying the add-on workshops for my very first Solid Edge University as a paid user.

Solid Edge University 2016

While not my first Solid Edge University (SEU), I often wear many hats and attending as a user with no other responsibilities other than to meet other users, attend presentations, and learn as much as I possibly could was certainly a nice change.   Of course, even if I was not officially representing media/press at this event, I can’t help stop myself from writing about it.  Why am I waiting two weeks?  Because I wanted to include the link to the presentations for those who couldn’t make SEU, and those presentation were recently posted.  Look for the link at the end of this article.

Attendance and Energy

I heard through the grapevine that the approximate attendance was around 500 users.  While not nearly as large as Solidworks World or Autodesk University, it’s still not a small number.  (I’m curious to learn how large Inventor University or Fusion 360 University would be if separated from all of the other Autodesk products.  Solidworks World, that’s just an inimitable singularity.)

And while no one was running into the main keynote session (Why would they? There is plenty of seating.), the energy level was aligned with the demographic. You see, Solid Edge users tend to be very loyal to their CAD system, so long as their CAD system improves their productivity. You’ll see a lot of very pragmatic users asking the tough question – “Sure, that’s a great feature, but how does it help me do my job better?”  Thankfully, the folks at Siemens understand their customers well and year-over-year focus on providing productivity-enhancing features like: tabbed documents, improved license management, UI tweaks that work the way you expect, material table enhancements, spiral curve, sheet metal improvements, patterning, sketching, and many more that I’ll start covering on this site.

Built-in Data Management

PDM is hard, PLM is harder.  PDM, quite frankly, is useless without the workflow aspect of PLM, so why bother?  Might was well just use the Windows file system to store your files. And that’s exactly what Siemens has done with Solid Edge ST9!

Built-in Data Management VaultI spent the first four hours of the conference attending the built-in data management workshop. While I would like to give all the credit to the Solid Edge development team, I feel that these enhancements are only available with ST9 thanks, in part, to changes in Windows itself.  Over the past several years, I’ve been noticing base Windows getting a lot of Sharepoint-like features built into it.  Now, Solid Edge ST9 comes with built-in data management tools that closely resemble some of the early features of Insight (Siemens’ PDM tool for Solid Edge built on top of Sharepoint).  See the connection?  But, quite frankly, I don’t care about the pedigree as much as I love the ability to better manage my data without any additional cost or requirement to manage/maintain/train on another software solution.

I spent the second half of the first day (all pre-conference start, mind you) in a workshop about the Solid Edge client for Teamcenter.  The big news here is the addition of Active Workspace into the Solid Edge application.  I tweeted back in June 2013 and again in Sept 2013 that I think Active Workspace should be the default UI for Teamcenter, not an additional license.  It appears that Siemens has been working towards my plea and I find myself ecstatic that Solid Edge is starting to get the same tight integration with Teamcenter that NX has.

Solid Edge University Proper

Solid Edge University 2016 officially kicked off Wednesday morning with the usual keynotes and highlights of the reason everyone came, Solid Edge.  During the keynotes Siemens did a fantastic job explaining their focus on education and STEM support.  If you want to measure how much support, measure in the billions.  I don’t think there was anyone in the room that left the keynote not wanting to get involved with Greenpower.

From there, the event split off into the usual sessions: part modeling, assembly modeling, sheet metal, synchronous technology, drafting, data management, additive manufacturing, vendor tools, simulation, rendering, etc.  If there was something you wanted to learn about Solid Edge, or one of the many other tools provided by 3rd party vendors, there was a session about it.  Don’t believe me?  Look for yourself.  You can find the presentations on the Solid Edge Community Knowledge Base.  You can also see the recordings of the live stream on the Community website also.

Not a Community member?  Why not?  It’s free, and you will find an amazing group of users from around the world, and even a few Siemens employees, willing to answer any questions you have.  And the next time you attend Solid Edge University, you’ll already have friends to meet up with.  I know I’ll be back.  Question is, what metaphorical hat will I be wearing?