I don't get to the Huntsville office too frequently, but I've been lucky that several times when I have been here, they were having a local Solid Edge user group meeting. Aside from Solid Edge University, it has been a while since I've been to a local user group meeting. Peter LLewellyn of Siemens runs the show.
There were two presentations that were very interesting to me, one on Greenpower, and other on 3D scanning by a local service provider.
Greenpower is a competition for kids and young adults racing either kit or custom built single seat electric vehicles. We've heard about this competition before, but Mike Evans, the director of Greenpower USA was making a pitch for the user group members to become industry sponsors of a local team. Working with the kids on a team makes engineering into a competitive sport. It's a great way for kids who are more interested in using their minds than their bodies for competition to get the same great experience that kids on athletic teams get with "soft" skills like communication, teamwork, growth through failure, and performance under pressure.
This competition also offers equal opportunities regardless of gender, race, or any other consideration. They are even developing cirriculum around it so that it is part of every-day learning at school rather than a special project which might exclude some with out the liberty of flexible schedules.
Seeing kids getting involved in something that really benefits their future intellectual and professional development like this is very rewarding. If you have kids in school (from 5th grade up), you might contact your local school to see if they might consider a project like this. The "gremlin" car kit for 5th graders costs $2000 and takes about 15 hours to assemble, the "F24" car kit for high schoolers costs $5000. If this were a football program, there would be no problem with this kind off money.
The Greenpower story is one that should be growing like crazy. It's fun to learn and compete at the same time. Serving as an industry mentor for these kids could be great fun too, and its a way for adults to participate.
The second presentation was on 3D scanning. This is a field I have dabbled in in the past, and I find it really fascinating. The presenter was from a local (Huntsville) scan service provider (Shapefidelity) who does work for all the big names you can think of here in the area. If you've never been to Huntsville, it's like Silicon Valley for aerospace and defence.
On a separate note, this is the kind of stuff you can expect from user group meetings, along with technical presentations on Solid Edge. You are going to be hearing more about Solid Edge user groups in the coming months. While this isn't a big announcement, I would ask that if you have read this far into this article, and have interest in user groups, please private message me through the community (yes, you need a login to do that).