I've settled back into the office after a whirlwind tour of SolidWorks 2012 Rollout events, and it's time to look back at some of the best stuff I saw, heard, and ate.
The "What ELSE is New in SolidWorks 2012" tour was a blast. In the month of October, I was one of the featured speakers at 9 different events ( I attended a 10th just because), meaning 10 different venues, 10 different menus, and 10 different SolidWorks 2012 What's New presentations. I spent a total of 18 nights in hotels, and put more than 3100 miles on rental cars. Amazingly, I didn't experience a single flight delay or cancellation.
I'll take a lot of great memories from the tour. A 6-1/2 hour drive from Auburn Hills, MI culminated in a drive over the Chicago Skyway on a perfect, clear night. The Chicago skyline is one of the most impressive I've ever seen. I was also able to drive through one of my favorite places in the world - Manhattan - not once, but twice. I ate (non-event) meals as locally as possible (in keeping with a promise I made to myself in January), and that meant deep-dish pizza in Chicago. seafood in Seattle, and a Philly cheesesteak in Pennsylvania.
The best part of a tour like this is obviously the chance to meet and mingle with hundreds (maybe thousands) of SolidWorks users, resellers, and employees. Everyone involved with the SolidWorks 2012 Rollouts worked very hard to make sure they were the best they could be. There are scores of people to thank for this, too many to not end up forgetting someone. I do have to recognize 4 SolidWorks people though - without them my tour would never have happened. So thanks Sherry B., Chris K., Liz C., and Christine W. for making sure I had places to go.
The Best of the Best
As hard as it is to judge the events against each other (they were all great!), I do have some favorites that I'll share.
This was a tough one. All of the events were held in nice venues - golf resorts, casinos, and movie theaters among them. My favorite:
Regal Evergreen Cinemas - Beaverton, Oregon
The screens were huge, and the very comfortable seating was well spaced. A perfect place to watch a "What's New" presentation.
Honorable mention - The event in Palatine, IL was held here. The auditorium made for a great session.
Another toughie given the number of events I attended. None of the events featured what I'd call "local fare", and it may sound simple, but my favorite was:
Build Your Own Sandwich Buffet - Solon, Ohio
This event was held at a resort, which usually means rubber chicken or fancy pasta dishes. Not so here - plenty of different breads, meats, and cheeses made this a delight.
Honorable mention - Hamburgers and Brats in Davenport, IA.
Best Vendor Presentation
There were many sponsors at each event, but only two of them were at every event I attended- HP and 3D Connexion.
Hewlett-Packard - Beaverton, Oregon
While all of the HP reps did a nice job, Jeff Gordon was far and away the best. The man was hilarious as well as informative. Normally the vendor sessions are seen as a good opportunity to grab another cup of coffee, but nobody left the room after Jeff started talking.
Honorable mention - Ken Denton, 3D Connnexion - simply for standing at the front of a room for an uncomfortable length of time.
As a SolidWorks employee, I wasn't eligible to win any "big" prizes (iPads and 3D Connexion devices were everywhere), but I did manage to walk away with some cool swag from nearly every event. All told I picked up 1 laptop bag, 1 mouse pad, 1 can coozy, 1 can opener, 1 poker chip, 1 golf towel, 5 pens, 2 thermal mugs, and my favorite...
Ceramic Coffee Cup with Spoon - Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
This cup is just the right size for me. I thought is was pretty cool that the cup came with a matching spoon that tucks into the handle when not being used.
Honorable mention - the "3D Printed" poker chip in Auburn Hills, MI. I really like poker chips.
Best What's New Presentation
I didn't miss a single "What's New" presentation - yep, I saw it done 10 times. Every presentation had something a little different (tag team sessions, a Jeopardy theme, a newscast format), and they were all very good. One session stood out among the rest however...
Darin Grosser - Auburn Hills, Michigan
Darin did all three hours by himself, and the energy and enthusiasm he displayed was fantastic. He didn't miss a beat and kept the crowd interested and entertained.
Honorable mention - Jeff Setzer in Lake Geneva, WI. Another one-man session that was very good.
The "What ELSE is New Tour" was one of the best months I've ever spent. Hanging out with SolidWorks users, seeing some of the amazing new functionality in SolidWorks 2012, and spending some quality time on the greatest highway system in the world made the month of October one that I won't soon forget.
And thanks to all of the SolidWorks Resellers that were gracious enough to host me at their events. I hope to see you again next year.