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Alright, here we are in Indianapolis waiting for the keynote to start at this year's Solid Edge University. It's late October, months after the release of Solid Edge ST 9. What gives? Siemens PLM Software used to run the university in the summer, around the annual update to the MCAD software. But then, they reckoned, it made more sense to hold the "university" some months after the release, so that users had a chance to try out the new software before taking courses to become more proficient. And so here we are in October, in the Indy-500 city.
Media in the front row of the keynote location
The theme this year is "Expand Your Horizon," because Siemens wants this to be about more than just Solid Edge. I write "Siemens" but they are just the ones who own Solid Edge these days. Recall that Solid Edge was developed by Intergraph, one of the very first CAD companies, in Huntsville Alabama. For a while, it was owned by UGS (of Unigraphics fame), and now Germany's Siemens has it. The software and its developers are still in Huntsville, and so the accents of executives is southern American, not German. We can't even tell that Solid Edge is owned by Siemens, other than the corporate gray in the slides.
Being the Indy 500 city, Siemens is going to be showing off cars designed with Solid Edge. By coincidence, there are about 500 attendees here.
Five hundred attendees in the Indy 500 city
But first, Solid Edge for Startups is being announced from the keynote stages. More details later. And now the new ceo of Siemens PLM Software is being introduced: Tony Hemmelgarn (see photo below). He was at Intergraph when Solid Edge got its name, and even gave the first version to his wife to try out. "It's probably why they promoted me to this job," he jokes, "they probably wanted me to stop giving demos."
New ceo of Siemens PLM Software Tony Hemmelgarn
Mr Hemmelgarn is telling us how Siemens has been, since 1958, acquiring and developing design software to "keep pace with digitization." Since 2007, they've acquired UGS (NX and Solid Edge), Vistagy, Perfect Costing Solutions, Kineo, LMS, TESIS, Polarion, and CD-adaptco. He plans to further integrate these solutions into each other. The slide lists ">$2 billion" although he doesn't explain it. I suspect that refers to the cost of acquisitions. See figure below.
The Siemens history of CAD-related software acquisitions
Now we are hearing from automotive designers the first being a 23-year-old engineer with ProDrive of England. They are working on a replacement Austin Martin for racing. But he is here to talk about Green Power, where teams start with the same set of basic parts, but then compete in age categories starting at age 9. It is, he says, more engaging because it is project-based. Project-based learning works best for me: I need a reason to learn something, which is probably why -- like this young speaker -- I didn't necessarily do well in normal schooling. He initially failed to make it into engineering at university; at least, I made it into engineering! Using Solid Edge, he designed a Green Power car that won numerous awards, and then got a one-year placement with Red Bull Racing -- as an engineer.
The first guest speaker, David Cullimore from Prodrive and promoting Green Power, uses Solid Edge
Earlier I mentioned Siemens starting in 1958 with digital software. The company started much earlier. In fact, last week I was in the German Transportation Museum in Munich, which had the very first Siemens product: the world's first electric locomotive, from 1879, when Werner Siemens thought of using the steel rails and overhead wires to conduct electricity to the locomotive. This demo, however, ran off a 150V battery, and was built for a world fair in Berlin.
World's first electric locomotive designed by the founder of Siemens AG
Three take-aways from the second guest speaker, Jerry Zaiden from Camburg, which uses Solid Edge to design their racing trucks.
Chief Strategy Officer Justin Fishkin from Local Motors, which uses Solid Edge in their business
[Disclosure: Siemens PLM provided me with transportation, accommodation, and some meals.]