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Catching Up With Brad Meador – Star City SWUG Leader – Part 1

Catching Up with Brad Meador Star City SWUG Leader

Brad Meador has been a SOLIDWORKS User Group Leader for about four years but youd never know.

Mention his name and people just know who he is, by his own admission he admits Ive never met a stranger.

Just a few years ago, he and a colleague started the Star City SWUG based in Roanoke, Virginia.

A year or so later, Brad has taken over leadership of the group and is working hard to promote both SOLIDWORKS and STEM in the area and hes just getting started!

We had a chance to sit down for a catch up with Brad to learn a bit more about the man people call Tank.

Brad, great to have a chance to chat a bit and learn more about you as a SOLIDWORKS User Group Leader as well as the Star City SWUG. Lets start with just a little background on you, shall we?

Well first off, Im born and raised inRoanoke, Virginia. As a matter of fact, the hospital where I was born is right near theRoanoke Star. Ive been in this area all of my life.

When I was younger, I was a mechanic. I guess I really likedworking on carsandtinkering with things.

The idea of taking things apart and putting them back together was fascinating.

Although admittedly I didnt always like being told what to do or if I was doing something wrong, so over time I decided that perhaps I needed another path.

At that point, I decided that I would go into learning design. In my mind, I thought that if I learn how to design better or more efficient products then I can really make an impact.

Soon after I started to pursue my degree in Mechanical Engineering Design Technology at Virginia Western Community College. One year into college, a company called Precision Technology got in touch and offered to hire me and also help pay for me to finish my degree.

It was a great opportunity, and I stayed there for about 5 years as a draftsman and received my Associate’s Degree in 2011. Ive been designing and creating better products that are easier for people to use ever since.

Brad, where do you work now?

Currently, I am a Senior Designer in the new product division at Altec.

The products that I am currently working on are the cranes and large digger derricks – a tool used to dig utility posts into the ground.

Very often you can see our products on the back of large utility or tractor-trailer trucks.

What are some other things you do in your spare time?

I really love motorcycles working on them and of course riding them.

At one point in my life, I was part of a Motorcycle Ministry. What this means is that I was part of a group of motorcyclists that would go to events to help support other riders.

Most of the time, it was logistical or background support; we may go to an event such as a trade show where riders cant bring their gear inside.

We would host a locked trailer where riders could store their items and trust that they would be there upon return.

We would also help in other ways as needed to support folks any way we could. Its also important for us to be a positive influence in the motorcycle community and break the stigma that may still exist out there.

We are a strong and supportive community.

We also do a bit of charity work last year before the pandemic we were organizing Jamies Ride for a Cure which benefits theJuvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

While this event is a fundraiser, its also about raising awareness about Type 1 Diabetes. While we were not able to host the ride in 2020 due to the pandemic, we willplan a future event and continue to educate and break the stigma around what it means to have Type 1 diabetes.

Oh and between work, user group meetings, fundraising, and homeschooling our children for the last year Ive also decided to go back to school.

Currently, I am pursuing my bachelors degree inElectrical EngineeringatArizona State University. This is indeed a whole newchallengethat I never thought I would do. My wife holds2 Masters’ Degrees, so I guess I have to keep up!

Education is definitely something we both feel strongly about and support in our family.

Lets chat a bit about the Star City SWUG and its origins. First, can you give some background on the name and why its called Star City?

TheRoanoke Staris alandmark in the area, it was built in the 1940s by a bunch of aircraft mechanics. Its the largestilluminated, free-standing, manmade star in the world.

Its located smack dab in the middle of the city near the zoo. While most times of the year its lit up with white lights, it does light up in different colours for the holidays such as Independence Day and Christmas.

As a matter of fact, the story on why the star was created originally was to represent the start of the holiday shopping season. The mechanics created this for funandspirit.

A colleague of mine at Altec, Derek Coller, and I started the Star City SWUG together around 2017.

At the time, there was no other SOLIDWORKS User Group in the area I think the closest was maybe an hour away. We knew there was a need for one, so we worked as a team to create the group.

Over time, Derek took on another role within the company and couldnt put in as much as he needed to, so I took over as the leader.

Over the last few years, Ive really enjoyed teaching and creating awareness around SOLIDWORKS to the community.

There’s More to Come

It was a pleasure speaking with Brad to learn more about his role at Altec and how he Started the Star City SWUG.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of our interview with Brad where we will be speaking more about Star City SWUG, getting students involved and3DEXPERIENCE World.

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