Monday, May 26, 2008


On Friday, I decided to take the Certified SolidWorks Associate test. I received a coupon good for a free CSWA or CSWP(rofessional) test for attending the SolidWorks World conference, so I didn't really have anything to lose.

I'm happy to say that I passed with flying colors, though this says more about my general skills as a 3D modeler than it does anything specific to SolidWorks. I scored 95 out of 100 points (70 needed to pass), and I'm pretty sure I got gypped out of 5 points. I first touched SolidWorks about 4 months ago, and aside from 4 training classes, don't have very much stick time with it. I finished the test in roughly half the allowed time, and did so while being interrupted to provide I-DEAS support. I'm not really saying this to brag (ok, yes I am), but to reinforce that the test is more generic than SolidWorks-specific.

If you follow the link above, you will find a sample test. Mine was pretty similar in concept to that one. It had a total of 7 questions. Three were modeling/assembly exercises, worth a total of 80 points, and then 4 terminology/concept questions worth 5 points each. I would say that any competent 3D modeler, given even only the slightest bit of familiarization with SolidWorks, should be able to pass this test with a minimum of 80 points. It is harder to interpret the diagrams given than it is to build the models. Only the 5-point questions involve SolidWorks specific terminology, and are not worth enough points to cause someone to fail the test.

Though I got the coupon for the freebie, the test would regularly cost $99. Is it worth it? I don't know yet, as I'm not currently applying for a job where that kind of resume builder item would matter. For passing, I'm allowed to put "CSWA" on my business cards, and they even give you some artwork to add to the effect. I printed out a certificate, and showed it to my boss, jokingly saying that I would like a raise. He seriously declined.

In the past, I have administered a CAD test for potential new hires, particularly contractors. I would say that the CSWA test is more challenging than our CAD test, and I had a number of people claiming years and years of experience who could not pass our test. So from an employer point of view, I would see a lot of value in knowing that someone had passed the CSWA test. I would get even more value from knowing that someone had failed the test, as there really isn't any excuse for a competent modeler to do so.

I do intend to take the CSWP test at some point in the coming months. The sample provided of the modeling portion does not scare me at all. The FEA portions do, so I'll need to do some work in that area. I hope they post a sample of that at some point. Also, the 5 points that I missed were related to drafting, and I have that class coming up in a couple weeks.

Since I never got anything real formal for winning the Top Gun contests, I guess I can use these certification tests to prove what a CAD ninja I am.

Brian Slick, CSWA, baybee.

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