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Catching Up With Jeff Setzer, Technology Evangelist at GSC – Part 2

Jeff Setzer, Technology Evangelist at GSC

Following virtual 3DEXPERIENCE World 2021, we caught up with Jeff Setzer, Technology Evangelist at GSC.

Jeff shared a number of stories of his early days with GSC (formerly Graphic Systems Corporation) and also his experiences in attending ‘world’ events over the last 20+ years.

Jeff also told us what it means to be a Technology Evangelist and how it helps the community.

If you missed it catch up on Part One here.

How many SOLIDWORKS Works Worlds have you attended?

All of them – I have been to every single “world” event; I even attended a “pre” SOLIDWORKS World event that was held in Boston in the summertime.

At the very first SOLIDWORKS World event hosted in Palm Springs, I was a presenter. If you locate the booklet for the event, I’m listed as a presenter on a product called “PhotoWorks”.

If anyone remembers the palm tree art from the event, we used that graphic to make our own polo shirts for the three of us from GSC to wear to the event.

Having been to every single SOLIDWORKS World/3DEXPERIENCE World, do you have a favourite?

That’s a hard question! First, I will say that I loved the Disney locations. Whether it was at Coronado Springs or the Swan and Dolphin.

My most memorable event was the 1st year it was held in New Orleans; I believe that was SOLIDWORKS World 2000. Traveling to New Orleans was a first for me and a bit foreign. I was not familiar with the area and where I would be staying. During this time, the reseller portion of the event was ahead of the event – so we spent an entire week there.

The reseller ‘special event’ was held at Mardi Gras World – I believe that year the customer special event was held at a bar that must have been at least 5-stories! By the end of the week, I was ready to go home!

It was in New Orleans where I learned about cajun and creole cooking – I took a real liking to it.

If I had to mention another SOLIDWORKS World favourite location, it would of course be San Diego – you cannot beat the location and the events held in the Gas Lamp District.

This isn’t a very easy question for you as someone who has so much experience attending these events, but do you have a favourite or most impactful speaker?

There have been so many people over the years – it’s so hard to choose! Remember, I also get to attend the Reseller General Sessions as well so there are many people I have listened to over the years that have had an impact on me. I would start by saying that at SOLIDWORKS World 2007 during the What’s New skit when Leonard Nimoy came out and was listing some of the functionality. That was really cool to see him on stage and how that was all tied in together.

As far as General Session speakers I would have to say that at SOLIDWORKS World 2011 when Gene Krantz and Jim Lovell took to the stage to talk about their Apollo 13 experience. That was simply amazing to hear them tell their story in their own words.

At SOLIDWORKS World 2017, listening to Anousheh Ansari tell her story was also inspiring. You can see there may be a theme here with my interest in outer space.

Of course, it’s always great to see people like the guys from the MythBusters talking about their experiments and seeing how the Orange County Choppers team were using SOLIDWORKS in their design was great. Honestly, I didn’t know who the OCC guys were but it was really cool to see them using SOLIDWORKS on their show.

As you know, this year 3DEXPERIENCE World was a virtual event. As someone who has attended every world event, I’d love to get your perspective and have you share your experience with us.

There was so much technical content to take in this year – with back-to-back sessions it was hard to schedule in time for breaks as I didn’t want to miss something.

While I prefer the live, in-person events, it was great to have so much content available that I could go back and rewatch. Having the recordings available was great as you didn’t have to pick and choose sessions and miss others.

During the in-person events, there are so many opportunities for networking and I spend a lot of time talking with customers and exploring technologies.

In between some of the sessions, I would explore the Partner Pavilion and the product showcase to see what’s new and how the software is being used.

Overall, I think this year was good and that there was so much content but I look forward to being back in-person next year.

As you know – DriveWorks turns 20 years old this year. You have worked with our team long enough I’m sure you have a fun memory to share…

Actually – I attended a weeklong training on DriveWorks at their UK offices. It was probably late 2001 or early 2002 when I flew to the UK for training. This was my very first international trip – I had to get my very first passport for this trip. My flight was out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin with a connection through Philadelphia before heading onto Manchester, UK.

Once we landed in the UK, Kerry Gibson and Maria Sarkar collected us from the airport. There was another American with me – Paul Gimbel. As this was my first international trip – the flight was an experience itself but so was the car ride to the hotel (adjusting to the cars being on the other side of the road as well as the steering wheel being on the other side of the car – whoa!)  Kerry and Maria dropped us off at our hotel in Knutsford.

We ate well that week – we dined at a small Italian place the first night, the second night we ate at the Inn. On the menu board was something called “Steak and Kidney Pie” which I thought sounded good. It was served with something called “Bubble and Squeak” and when Maria asked me what I thought it was, I thought it had something to do with a baby chick being deep fried (which of course it wasn’t!).

Editor’s note: Bubble and squeak is a dish made from cooked potatoes and leftover vegetables mixed together.

At the time, DriveWorks was located in a shared office space that they shared with another company. We spent a week there – we learned quite a bit about DriveWorks.

It was an exciting time for the software – and just like other software, there were updates being made up to the week we were there (I remember installing a few updates to address some functionality while there).

In addition to learning DriveWorks – they all took care of us to make sure we had a true “American in England” experience.

We learned about “elevenses” (that’s a short break taken around 11). We had something called a “Bacon Butty” (which is a bacon sandwich!).

We learned about Pimms with fruit, that a pint is MUCH bigger in the UK than the US – oh and that spirits seem to be a bit stronger in the UK.

Hitting the pub was a great way to spend the end of our learning days as well. Oh – and that’s where I discovered Kronenbourg – that’s my go-to beer now when I can find it.

Since that time, I’ve not flown to the UK – that was my one and only trip.

Jeff, you spend so much of your time learning new technology, but we happen to know that you have a fascinating hobby. Let’s get into that…

When I was a kid, I wanted to be an astronaut. We would spend a lot of time traveling to Huntsville, Alabama to visit my grandparents – but also to visit the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. Funny, as later in life that was where I would go for Intergraph training.

As you know I didn’t become an astronaut, but space has always been something I’ve been interested in. Maybe it’s the science of it all – hunting down celestial objects and learning more about them and the nature of the universe. Of course, that leads us to talking about my telescopes which are a huge interest of mine.

How many telescopes do you own?

Currently, I own about 47 telescopes. In my normal rotation, I probably use about 5-6 of them. When I was younger in the 1980s and early 90’s the telescopes I wanted to buy were really expensive. Now, as the technology has changed, people want the more ‘techy’ ones which means I can get the old manual ones I like at very reasonable prices. The optics in our telescopes don’t really change, but everyone wants computerised, “find it for me” telescopes which is fine with me – I’ll take your grandparent’s scope for your garage-sale price any day!

Some of the telescopes that I own are quite big – there is one that I own that I need a 6-foot ladder in order to use. I also use old, classic Celestron telescopes quite a bit – especially the ones manufactured by Vixen for Celestron back in the day. They are wonderfully made and work as well today as they did decades ago.

One of the things I enjoy about this pastime is that I am part of an astronomy club (the Northern Cross Science Foundation, named after the constellation Cygnus) and we do a lot of astronomy outreach. With the pandemic that has changed – but in ‘normal’ times we would attend about 30-40 events a year.

Often, we would be at a school, observatory, or state park. I really enjoy showing people things like the planets (such as Saturn and its rings). The outreach and education part are things that I really enjoy as much or if not more than the observing.

Funny, in my professional career, I love to learn and use CAD, 3D printing and I’m always learning about new technologies.

In this hobby, I’m pretty old school with the equipment I use. With my astronomy and telescope activities, I prefer the simple equipment available.

It was a pleasure speaking to Jeff, learning more about his background, working at GSC, his experience of attending many ‘Worlds’, and hearing about his love of telescopes!

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