With experience comes knowledge, lots of it is practical with basic concepts getting enhanced in the process as a bonus. But experience is not necessarily the only way for learning Solid Edge, especially in year 2018.
The latest avatar of Solid Edge has a dedicated page called Learn in the Application menu which opens the door to all the tools and aid that are available out-of-the-box.
Older versions too have the startup page that take you to areas where you have access to Solid Edge videos, tutorials, overview of Solid Edge, tour of the user interface, self-paced and instructor-led classroom lessons, recommended learning paths, printable course books, academic resources for trainers to name a few.
Additional resources are available if you are new to CAD or migrating from other CAD programs like SolidWorks and even proficiency enhancers for experienced Solid Edge users who are transitioning to Synchronous.
As you progress with the lessons, a couple of highly recommended settings under the Helpers tab are about starting Solid Edge with the Learn page and the type of tooltips to display for the command buttons in Solid Edge.
These will help you getting familiar with commands 'on the go' if you are new to Solid Edge or using a newer version.
Change the Theme
Themes in Solid Edge are not about simply changing the window or icon color shade. When you switch to a theme, for example the Maximum Assistance theme, which is best suited during the learning phase, the entire user experience changes. The UI reacts to your gestures in ways that augment your learning efforts.
Tip: You can change a theme on the fly by right clicking on any button on the ribbon bar and selecting from the context menu that appears.
The Command Finder is your friend
Type in anything you loosely remember about a command that was not used in a long time and the command finder will list it in a jiffy. Stationed at the bottom of the application window, it digs out and eagerly tells about a command even if you are not in the right environment.
Tip: The command finder not only animates the ribbon or menu path to the command in the UI, you can also start the command directly from the listing in the command finder window.
Engage in Time Travel
If you have used another CAD program in previous life, try recreating it using Solid Edge. Use Synchronous right from the word go and discover how refreshingly different it is from your dinosaur era CAD program. This will be a good exercise to start exploring Solid Edge.
If you don't have the time to recreate the entire project, model some and import the rest of parts and feel amazed at the power of synchronous edits to perform modifications that perhaps took forever in your old CAD program or could never be achieved.
You may have done one of your pet project using a 2D only program and think drafting is still the king, then you need look no further, Solid Edge is the king of drafting. Explore the bewildering number of easy-to-use commands of the drafting environment. Take time out to learn the 3D Create feature which semi-automagically converts your 2D drawings to 3D models.
Upgraded to ST10 already? Do yourself a favour. Get a taste of the Generative Design capabilities to optimize your older designs and wonder where new tools in Solid Edge will take you in the future. I assure you the experience will be nothing short of a dream.
From your past to the future of learning CAD, Solid Edge has got your back.
Divide and Conquer
If you pride in passion and perseverance as I do, another unorthodox method of learning Solid Edge is to take up one topic or area of the UI, say the zoom and visualization tools, typically found in the bottom-right corner of the Solid Edge screen and also on the view tab of the ribbon. Dive deep into each one to find out the various options available.
Note the keyboard shortcuts mentioned in the tooltips that are assigned by default to each command or add new ones and start using them for accelerated learning.
Another example are the sketching tools which have more hidden options per command lying in plain sight and can be found out by carefully observing the PromptBar. For example, when you start the Circle command, it additionally tells you about the M.I.C.E. for snapping to keypoints. This results in faster learning of the command instead of wasting time figuring out everything by intuition.
Socialize - Ask, Tell, Share, Brag
It goes without saying that while you are online, following various online social handles can be a great investment over the course of time. Here are few of them to get you started:
YouTube – This is a no brainer and any topic of interest in Solid Edge can be easily found and you won't be let down. Hundreds of enthusiastic Edgers have posted thousands of videos amounting to millions of hours of free Solid Edge learning opportunities. An ever-growing compilation of the top Solid Edge YouTube Channels can come in handy.
Newsletters - The one that I know released regularly is by CADCentral from the down under, besides the official Solid Edge Product News. Not sure how one can subscribe to any of these but I receive both regularly.
SEU - Attend a Solid Edge University event near you. This needs no further explanation since the dividends to reap from such in-person gathering are multifold. Teach a class at the SEU which is a great way to actually learn something new, as they say. SEU provides this opportunity + you save some money in the form of waived entry fees.
It is your rightful duty to indulge in self-assurance by going for Solid Edge certification. The badge you are rewarded with is not merely for display on business cards or resumes, but a stamp of self-approval and will show confidence in the things that you say and do because you are now sure of your abilities.
To get started with Solid Edge certification, follow this link:
One of my many new year resolutions is to start learning Solid Edge all over again from scratch. Sounds ridiculous?
For many who picked up 3D CAD around 15 to 20 years or earlier, chances are you were self-taught. Today Solid Edge learning has metamorphosed into an ecosystem of interconnected networks which is not complex but definitely overwhelming.
It is only tempting to start exploring this vast universe of online and offline learning resources for Solid Edge and crave for more. Let the thirst for knowledge never end, never diminish…
Till then, let's sync, let's optimize, let's converge and keep learning...