Interview with CAD Administrator Ed Cyganik


Ed Cyganik, or “Eddie” as many folks know him, is a fellow I’ve known for a number of years, going back to my days working for SolidWorks resellers in Western NY in the late 90s. I met him while trying to troubleshoot problems in a SolidWorks/SmarTeam installation. Over the years I’ve learned a lot of stuff from Ed and people like him. You may have run into him if you spend any time on the SolidWorks Forums. Besides the forums, Ed also speaks at SolidWorks World, which is where this picture of him came from. He has a lot of accumulated wisdom not just with SolidWorks, but with other CAD packages, 2D and 3D, as well as dealing with people.

Eddie has been active in the SolidWorks community probably as long as I have, and is probably responsible for a lot of great functionality, particularly in drawings. He’s a good guy, knows how to speak his mind, and has the knowledge and experience to back it all up. Basically, he’s the kind of guy you want to have on your side when you have questions about stuff.

Eddie and I will be working together on an up-coming writing project, and I just wanted to introduce him here. I don’t think he’s active on any of the blogs, but that’s ok. There are many ways to communicate. Blogs are just one of them.

Eddie, tell us a little about where you work, what they do and what your part in it all is, if you can…

My current position is with ITT Enidine Inc., Controls Group. We design & manufacture products that provide solutions for energy absorption and vibration isolation. I am a Senior Designer by trade and CAD Administrator when I don’t have anything else to do. Seriously though, my CAD duties go well beyond administration as I am also responsible for; Teaching CAD and Training in General to meet Company & Industry Standards.
So prior to buying SolidWorks, what software did you use, and what was your experience with it?
Software packages used prior to SolidWorks were; Anvil 5000, AutoCAD & Pro/E. I have very little experience in the two former packages but Pro/E and I go back to its inception. I used, implemented and taught Pro/E over a period of 11 years at 4 different locations. I loved Pro/E, it always did everything I needed it to do.
I know your company is a SmarTeam user as well. Can you tell us why you are sticking with SmarTeam?
Right now, I guess the simple reason is that we are heavily invested in SmarTeam. In-a-nut-shell, we have a broad and experienced user base that is using a product that has been extensively customized to suit our needs. Switching to anything else would be a major undertaking.
As a CAD Administrator, how have the recent versions of SolidWorks affected you?
Sadly, the recent version are nothing more than a tease. I have 2008 and 2009 loaded, customized and ready to go but we are still using SW06 as our production version. There are some tools (functionality & capability) that would be beneficial to the company but for the most part we are able to do what we need to get our jobs done.
Based on this, if I were to answer your original question, I’d have to say; Recent versions of SolidWorks, as well as all of them, come along to often. We do not have the time to beta, pre-production and production test SolidWorks with our OS and related software packages (CAE, CAM, PDM, ERP, etc.) not to mention our computers, networks, printers, the list goes on and on.
Ok, since you are remaining on an older, ok, VERY old version of SolidWorks (2006), but you are still current with your maintenance. How do you justify the money, and what benefits are making it worth paying?
That’s a really good question, especially since I just filled out the request for our yearly maintenance. Interestingly, If we had dropped our subscription service in 2006, we’d be looking at a break even point if we had to repurchase all of seats. We have a good relationship with our VAR (CADimensions, if you can mention them) and I have a great relationship with SolidWorks. So, up until now it has really been about maintaining relationships and I’ll leave it at that for now.
I know you play with the newer versions, what do you see of value in 2009 that you wish you could bring back to 2006?
·         Fundamentals
o       Double-Click to Zoom Fit
o       Magnifying Glass w/Zoom Selection (G Key)
·         Sketching
o       Ghost imaging of missing sketch geometry (Helpful for working with models created by others.)
o       Zero & Negative Value (About time!)
·         Features
o       Ghost imaging of missing reference entities. (Again, helpful for working with models created by others.)
·         Parts
o       Measurement w/Dual Dimensions
o       Assigning Custom File Properties from Task Manager (Have yet to review but in theory, this could be a time saver.)
o       Convert to Sheetmetal
·         Assemblies
o       Ghost imaging of missing mates. (Again, helpful for working with models created by others.)
o       Performance (Any performance gains but especially assemblies and their drawings are most welcomed.)
o       Unloading hidden components.
o       BOMs in Assembly Documents (Once again, About time!)
o       Hinge Mates
o       Sensors
o       Instant 3D in Assemblies (Should have been part of the initial roll-out of Instant 3D. This is where the tool has the most benefit.)
·         Drawings & Detailing
o       Customized Drafting Standards (Still need the capability to “lock” settings to prevent users from changing.)
o       Dimension Leader for Same-Sized Features (This tool, that is long over do, will allow for clearer documentation.)
o       Multiple Jogs for Dimensions & Callouts (Another tool, that is long over do, will allow for easier creation of clear documentation.)
o       Format Painter (This basic MS Word tool has the capability to really speed up the process of detailing. However, if they would have asked me to write the Product
Specification, functionality would have been implemented differently. I would have eliminated “Favorites”, now known as “Style” by combining them with the Format Painter tool. Basically, Favorites provide for predefined settings/requirements, while the Format Painter allows for the selection of a setting or requirement that is currently displayed. The interface would be activated by the selection from a pop-up menu. As an example, a dimension is selected, then “Style-Select”, then pick a dimension with the desired style. Or select a dimension, then “Style-List”, in this case, another menu or window would pop up with all “Dimension Styles” that have been saved. The latter selection, Style List, would load all “favorites” automatically. Well that’s the way I’d do it but what do I know?)
If you, as a CAD Administrator, and knowing what you know about the new versions, could have one wish granted of something SolidWorks would either fix or add in the software, what would it be?
Now that is a tough one! My short list consists of about five items but if you are holding me to just one, then I’d have to say, …Provide the ability for every single input in SolidWorks to be internalized/maintained once a save is performed. What I mean is this: There is a file know as the “gtol.sym” file that we have customized. This file must be present in its default SolidWorks location on every computer where your files are to be opened, otherwise the symbols you have defined cannot be interpreted. This problem has existed forever and version after version, nothing changes.
What are your favorite new features and least favorite things about the SolidWorks software?
I am a big fan of the capabilities of “pop-up” menus. I think they are not only fast and easy to get used but the also allow a user to stay focused on the task at hand. When you put all of these advantages together, I believe they improve user proficiency and increase throughput. So with the advent of the “S” shortcut menu, you have even more tools at your disposal to stay focused. No more hunting, searching and moving your mouse all around. If employed properly, pop-up menus can eliminate most other menus, toolbars and icons.
My least favorite things about SolidWorks are unfinished/incorrectly implemented capabilities that continue to be left by the wayside year after year. I won’t go into anything particular because anyone reading this can come up with a list of their own.
Do you have any advice for new CAD Administrators?
Well I could write a book about that and probably should have before you did, but that’s water under the bridge. For the long version, I did a presentation at SWW 07, titled “Getting Off on the Right Foot” that cover the major issues. (I/you could make this available if you like.) For a shorter version, get bye-in from management, get users involved, get other departments involved, document your current process to meet that as a minimum but also look for ways to improve your processes by leveraging SolidWorks and any of it products. Look into everything, test everything and then set up your CAD environment for clean and consistent use by all users.
One other thing: “Never upgrade for the sake of upgrading!” Even if there is something new that you absolutely need, you had better test the living daylights out of the software before you even consider it.
What do you find the most difficult to teach new SolidWorks users?
Think in 3D, all the time. If people are coming from a 2D background, they still had to have the ability to picture things in 3D but they continually interpreted or documented in 2D. In my mind, there is a big difference making the complete transition.
Teaching “What’s New” is another matter.
Sorry for the cliché but teaching old dogs new tricks best decribes some of my frustrations. Now before the old dogs start barking, let me clarify. When I say “old dogs”, I’m referring to those who have been using the software 4 to 10 years. They learned and got use to drop-down menus, separate icon toolbars for all categories, a limited set of keyboard shortcuts. Now, even with a wide variety of keyboard shortcuts, the Command Manager, RMB Menus, the “S” Menu, I still have users stuck in the past using the software as it was when they were originally taught.
Do you have any funny stories about years in CAD Administration?
Well not administration but teaching CAD. I had one guy who started out on the board and then used a 2D CAD package (electronic drafting). He had about 20 years experience. Anyway he came to a class I was teaching and was full of enthusiasm but by the thrid day he was so lost that he came to me and said if he didn’t make any progress by the next day that he was going to quit. Unknown to me, he had not, could not understand a sketch plane with reference to the 3D world and how one would orient to work on a design. I worked with him after class, before class, I brought in technical books with illustrations and various training aides from the web. I asked one and then another employee to sit with this guy and try to explain the concept, all to no avail. The guy just never got it and quit the class. After working at the same company for another 2 years, he eventually quit and moved to Atlanta where he and his wife opened a restuarant. The restaurant lasted less than a year and the guy was forced to go back to what he always did.
Fast forward, about 4-5 years later, I’m now out in Denver and I get a phone call and the person says’ “Hello, I bet you don’t know who this is?” Believe it or not, I recognized his voice and it was none other than this guy I had tried to train so many years ago. Next he says to me; “I bet you cannot guess what I’m doing right now?” All I said was I know your not working at the restaurant. He goes on to tell me he’s still in Atlanta but he is now at Lockheed. I was kind of afraid to ask but I said, What are you doing? He tells me he’s been working in Engineering using Pro/E for about 4 months. I was dumb-founded and didn’t know what to say right away. So he says, I got hired and right away they send me to training and he says, “All I’m thinking is, Here we go again”. But as soon as the instructor started talking about Sketching and Datum Planes and Orientation, …Bam, everything clicked, the proverbial lightbulb lit. And now you know the rest of the story.
How far are the Yankees gonna go this year?
Although it may not look like it now, I think we’ll be there in October!
I want to thank Ed for agreeing to this interview, and express my hope that readers found it useful to hear from a real life CAD Admin type.

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