Forget What You Know – Learning to Design with 3D CAD: Interview with Dave Urasky
Dave Urasky, machinist and long-time CAD & CAM teacher, shares his advice on how to learn 3D design and how he keeps his material relevant by staying in touch with his students in the industry in this featured tutor interview.
Digital-Tutors: Thank you for talking with us! Could you start off by telling us a little bit about yourself and some of the work you are currently involved with?
Dave Urasky: I am a machinist by trade but a teacher by choice. I have been teaching for more than 30 years with the last 15 teaching CAD & CAM. I provide custom training to industry while also teaching solid modeling and electronics/automation.
Digital-Tutors: Education has been your passion for quite some time. Was this something you have always felt drawn to or did you just fall in love with it?
Dave Urasky: I started my “work life” as a machinist and moved into business management. It wasn’t until my late 20’s that I decided to do what I had informally been doing all along, teaching. I completed a degree in Industrial Education and have never looked back. Education has been good to me especially now as I move away from the traditional classroom to custom and online courses.
Digital-Tutors: You made a huge impact when you helped develop a SolidWorks and Engineering Design curriculum used by secondary and post-secondary schools across the country. What was that experience like?
Dave Urasky: To be able to take successful practices from my classroom and share them with others across the nations was fun. I think the best part was when I had teachers contact me for support. To see the passion which they have being used with my materials, that was great.
Digital-Tutors: You’ve also taught extensively on the professional level. Where do you find the greatest need for training like your recent SolidWorks tutorial? Is the need growing in any particular area? Severely lacking?
Dave Urasky: On the industry side of my work I see a lot of engineers who have 2D design experience but are lacking in 3D and need to learn it. I see them as a target audience with Digital-Tutors for they typically don’t have time for formal classes and need to be able to jump in and out of a lesson as time allows. I’ve also kept the professional in mind as I develop the lessons for Digital-Tutors, not necessarily focusing on repetition, rather application of the basics into more advanced techniques.
Digital-Tutors: As an educator how do you stay up-to-date with the latest trends in the industry?
Dave Urasky: I try to keep in touch with industry through visits and working with my students from industry. When I do a training for a company I always try to get examples of what they do so I can tailor the training to meet their needs using their actual products. Having worked with fabrication shops to medical product designers I’ve seen a variety of applications for SolidWorks.
Digital-Tutors: Is there anything a new designer learning SolidWorks should look out for that trips up designers the most?
Dave Urasky: It’s ironic that those who have experience in 2D design software are the hardest to teach solid modeling. The best advice I can give a person is to forget everything they know about drafting techniques and start from scratch. A whole different approach is used for designing with solids than in 2D.
Digital-Tutors: What is your favorite SolidWorks topic to teach?
Dave Urasky: Boy, that’s hard to say. I enjoy the beginner classes because I see so much frustration to “Ah hah!” moments when everything just clicks. But I also like teaching higher level skills like weldments and configurations because they make SolidWorks come to life in industrial applications.
Digital-Tutors: Do you have a favorite piece of advice you give to your students?
Dave Urasky: There are actually two things I like my students to walk away with. The first is to think outside of the box. There's many different ways to make SolidWorks work for you. The second is to never stop asking questions!
Digital-Tutors: If you weren’t teaching, what would you be doing?
Dave Urasky: I’d be working for a small manufacturing company where I could use SolidWorks to document their designs, but also be kept in the design loop by working on the shop floor.
Digital-Tutors: Thanks for your time! Any last things you’d like to share with up-and-coming designers before we go?
Dave Urasky: With persistence frustration is a good thing. It allows you to learn outside of your comfort zone.
See more from Dave now by visiting his Digital-Tutors tutor profile, LinkedIn profile and watching his SolidWorks tutorial: Getting Started in SolidWorks.