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Catching Up with Chinloo Lama – Part 2

Catching Up With Chinloo Lama

User Experience Design Director and STEAM Outreach at Dassault Systèmes

Recently, we had a chance to catch up with Chinloo Lama. Chinloo is the User Experience Design Director and STEAM Outreach at Dassault Systèmes. She shared a bit of her background and how she was able to incorporate her engineering education with her creative side to help navigate a career that thus far has been truly impactful without compromising who she is.

In part one, Chinloo shared what it’s been like to be a woman in engineering over the last 20 years. We heard about her role at SOLIDWORKS and her involvement in developing SOLIDWORKS Apps for Kids. If you missed it, you can catch up with part one here.

Let’s talk about the Magic Wheelchair. Many people learned about this while attending 3DEXPERIENCE World 2020 in Nashville. We’d love to hear how this became another passion for you to become involved with and learn a bit more about the program.

“It actually goes hand in hand with Apps for Kids in the sense that I wouldn’t have known about Magic Wheelchair if I wasn’t doing work for Apps for Kids. I was at Maker Fair in New York City, promoting SOLIDWORKS and Apps for Kids. We met David Vogel, the representative from Magic Wheelchair, and he was there actually to ask for free licenses of SOLIDWORKS to use for builds. My colleague was having a conversation with him and comes over and says, ‘you need to talk to this guy’.”

“We started speaking about it and of course, there was no question asked – we were yes, yes, yes, you can have SOLIDWORKS, and we will make sure you and your team have it to use to design your costumes.”

“I’d never heard of this program before and when I learned about their mission, which is to basically provide a costume to every child in a wheelchair that wants one, free of cost. They do not have to burden any costs other than just have an awesome day. This sold it for me, and I told David that I was going to contact him after the event, I’m going to build a costume for someone local. We got a team of people together and got to work.”

A castle costume designed by the team at Magic Wheelchair

“I got this team of folks together who were like ‘yes’ without even knowing what it was really about. Basically, we just got into it and learned as we went along. A lot of us at the time had never worked with foam had never worked with PVC or any spray painting, graphics, we learned all these skills.”

“What was really great about it is we got to see everyone bring a different side of them, beyond work life, into the room. We were stressed because we had to deliver these things on a specific deadline. There was no moving the deadline – we promised a child they’re getting something that day and you don’t back out of it!”

“We had a chance to meet the families and I think that was really what made us want to do it again after the torture of building the first one. It’s an emotional pay check! You can never measure up to anything else, you get to know the family and understand what they go through and why they are the heroes. We got addicted – we built a couple of costumes. We pick the easiest part of our year where we’re not piled up with work and can devote our weekends and evenings to it.”

“When 3DEXPERIENCE World 2020 was rolling up I walked up to Gian Paolo Bassi and said ‘what if we do this thing, this reveal at 3DXWorld’ and it just snowballed from there. I got support from all the different teams.”

“We got the covers from the Facebook Live team, the biggest was that we got support from the UK user group leaders and also Luke Daly. We had all these really passionate people and actually, we were fortunate enough to also get a few folks who had worked on Magic Wheelchair before to join us.”

You can watch the reveal of the Magic Wheelchair at 3DEXPERIENCE World here.

There have been other builds and reveals since 3DEXPERIENCE World 2020 – you can read about the reveal of Princess Freyja’s costume as well as Dragon costume on the SOLIDWORKS Blog.

Magic Wheelchair at 3DEXPERIENCE World 2021

When you wake up each day, are you still excited about what you do – do you have anything you’re looking forward to that you can share?


“When I wake up there’s always something where I am like ‘oh, I can’t wait to do this because I’ve already planned out a few new things to experiment with.’ For anyone following the SWYM communities, I have posted some stuff about Aquaponics, so I definitely have some projects that I’m playing with.”

“Lately, on the User Experience side, there’s definitely an area where I’m looking forward to dive deeper into, which is really just understanding more and more of what I’ve done this last couple of years.”

“I’m still developing just how people would like to use web-based products – especially since you can be on different devices. I’m finding myself using the products on my iPad more because I can, and on my Mac because I can, wherewith SOLIDWORKS in the past I’ve always had to be bound to my PC.”

“I’m definitely looking forward to more ways of getting that kind of data, and developing the user experience better. I’m still working on touch interactions and mobile access.”

“With regards to new projects, the idea of self-sustainable living is definitely the thing now and people are all about gardens with being at home so much. Since I was a kid, I’ve loved reusing, recycling, being responsible for how we tread on this world. So now that I have more control over what I can buy, what can I use to do the things I want to do.”

Chinloo breaks down SOLIDWORKS Apps for Kids-Shape at SOLIDWORKS World 2016

How do you want people to remember you?

“I think everything that I’ve touched, I’ve always left it in such a way where I feel like if someone were to look at it, you know, 20 years from now, 50 years from now or 100 years from now, they would see my fingerprints all over it.”

“It is just because I tend to take an idea, turn it inside out, to roll it upside down, and rethink it from beginning to end. Then I challenge the status quo. I definitely bring that element in a lot of the projects that I am part of and a lot of the new ideas that I bring forward – that’s what I want to leave behind. Of course, I try to do the same for my kids. I remind them that they all bring an individual perspective to whatever they do, and they will always make a difference.”

Figure out why something is done traditionally and if you can nudge it in one way – try it. What’s the worst that could happen? You know what, the mistakes we make, make us better – right?”

Chinloo, you are making your mark both professionally and personally it seems, and I think you’ve done a great job with it.

“Thanks, Heather – you’re one that I also take inspiration from. I see you take your passion with your running and the way you devote your energies that way. I think for those of us who can bring our authentic self and I know this has been said by many people, but it’s instead of having the professional self that goes to work, and then the home self that stays at home.”

“If you can merge some of the things that work from one to the other skilfully, and leverage those energies that are positive in both sides and cross them over somehow, this is really the only way you can live life. Otherwise, you’re going to always feel like there’s an empty spot. Like you didn’t fulfil something right.”

It was a pleasure speaking with Chinloo, learning about her role at SOLIDWORKS and hearing about the impressive achievements in her career. As a woman in engineering, Chinloo is inspiring others to have the confidence to stand out in this sector.

Celebrating Women in Engineering 

On International Women’s Day we took the opportunity to celebrate more amazing women in our community.

Check out their inspiring stories on our blog.

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