Ah, those hazy, lazy days of summer. No school. Family vacations. Swimming pools. Warm nights and the sensory medley of fresh-mown grass, fireflies, and cicadas. Bicycles and then later, cars.

Let’s not forget summer camp. Maybe when you were younger, it was outdoor games, arts and crafts, and nature hikes.

When you got older, it was sleepaway camp. Horseback riding, archery, and ghost stories around campfires at night.

How did I spend part of my summer?

As a camp counselor. Seriously! But, perhaps not the type of camp you’re thinking. There was no bug spray and no mess halls. In my case, it was GSC’s Camp 3D! and it was a camp like few others.

Sam Hochberg teaches Camp 3D students

You see, we here at GSC are big on serving our communities, especially when it comes to educating and inspiring future generations of designers and engineers. Indeed, some long-time customers may remember that as far back as the mid-2000s we offered what we then called, “SOLIDWORKS Summer School.” It was with great relish that we not only revived but modernized the offering to include having the students design their own part to be 3D printed, and if desired, prep for the Certified SOLIDWORKS Associate (CSWA) test. As before, this offering was for middle- and high-school students. We offered this at both our Milwaukee- and Chicago-area offices.

Camp 3D at GSC Technology Center in Germantown, WI

Here’s what we did at Camp 3D!

Day 1

Every good camp starts with some icebreaker activities. The level of excitement was viable, and it was impressive to learn the number of CAD classes some of the students had already taken at their respective schools. Each student received a copy of the official SOLIDWORKS Essentials training manual, and after a presentation on each, they worked their way through the first three chapters of the book.

A student works in Solidworks during GSC's Camp 3D

Day 2

We knew we’d hit on a wonderful idea when the students came back even more excited than on the first day. Similarly, after a brief lecture on each, everyone dug into the fourth and fifth chapters of the book. Instead of always being explicitly directed, students were presented with many “How?” and “Why?” questions and were not only imaginative but routinely shared their ideas and worked with the others.

Camp 3D at the GSC Technology Center in Germantown, WI

After lunch, students were given a tour of our Stratasys 3D printers in action and were assigned their main project, to design the part that they would later 3D print. They were given certain size parameters to stay within and other instructions such as embossing their name somewhere on their part. The collection was impressive: Many made dog tags, name tags, or zipper-pull type objects. Two made cute bone-shaped nametags for their dogs! One made a Pac-Man figure, another a dice, another a pen housing. All very creatively done!

A student works in Solidworks during GSC's Camp 3D

Day 3

The highlight of this day was, after an additional modeling chapter was covered, assemblies. A couple of exercises were chosen in which assemblies were built that could be animated and interactively moved. Yes, a couple of students even found an interference problem!

The day also included a presentation on photorealistic rendering and an interactive talk on marketing products. Because why? Because SOLIDWORKS Visualize, that’s why! All had great fun with some of the sample models such as sports cars and cell phones and created some very (ahem) interesting scenes in which to place them.

Day 4

The final day was student’s choice. Some decided to take the CSWA Prep Test in anticipation of sitting for the full test someday. Some continued work on parts or renderings they’d found interesting.

The day ended with a graduation ceremony in which the students were given their now-completed 3D printed parts and certificates of class completion.

Camp 3D group at Oakbrook Terrace, IL

Camp 3D attendees group picture

Just Click Stuff and See What Happens

I don’t know when, where, or how old you were when you first learned any computer program, let alone one as full-featured and admittedly complex as SOLIDWORKS. But all the students were amazing in their ability to figure things out after very little guidance. Maybe that’s a tribute to SOLIDWORKS itself. I have to share the advice I overheard one student giving another on his learning technique: “Just click stuff and see what happens!” I decided that would be the motto for the class.

From my perspective, it was an AWESOME experience! I am repeatedly asked, who was having more fun, the kids…or me? They all had a great time and, judging from the last-day flurry of exchanged phone numbers and email addresses, they made some new friends as well.

We’ve given these young adults a life-long, positive memory and maybe, just maybe, inspired them to become the next generation of engineers and designers of products that we will use in the future. How cool is that? Can’t wait for next summer and Camp 3D!