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Catching Up with Mike Puckett – Senior Manager, Worldwide Certification Program, SOLIDWORKS – Part 2

Mike Puckett, Senior Manager, Worldwide Certification Program, SOLIDWORKS

Earlier this month we caught up with Mike Puckett, Senior Manager, Worldwide Certification Program, SOLIDWORKS.

We chatted to Mike about his background, his first experiences of working in industry, the SOLIDWORKS Certifications Team and Mike’s experience at past SOLIDWORKS/3DEXPERIENCE Worlds.

If you missed it catch up on Part One here.

The CSWP and CSWE event at SOLIDWORKS World/3DEXPERIENCE World are always ‘the’ event to attend – do you have one particular event that stands out as a favourite of yours?

“These events are always a lot of fun, and we try to switch things up every year or so. It’s hard to choose just one as there are fun stories from every event that we’ve ever hosted.

The event that stands out the most for me is the last CSWP event that we hosted which was at SOLIDWORKS World 2012 in San Diego on the USS Midway. The program had grown so much, and we had a lot of people starting to reach the Expert level CSWE so we knew that there would be a change at future events.

At the CSWP event in San Diego, there were about 900 people (if not more) in attendance. There were so many people that attended that year that there were not many people in the Partner Pavilion that evening for the reception!

The CSWE event for 3DEXPERIENCE World 2021 will be a virtual event and we are planning to make it the most ‘non-virtual’ virtual event possible (more on that later!)”

How do you feel that the current pandemic environment has shifted users working toward their certification?

“One of the biggest changes we made over the years was in 2006 when we moved our exams online to make access more universal compared to what we offered since 1999.

Since then, it’s been a remote program and we achieved the program goal early on for it to run itself on a remote platform. Our dependency is mostly on making sure we have enough bandwidth supplied.

As far as the past year, we did see a small drop off in participation in certification activities early on in the Spring after 3DEXPERIENCE World in Nashville.

We knew that some companies were furloughing their employees and downsizing as a way to address what was happening in the world economy with the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the education space, schools had to quickly address the pandemic and shift to home/distance learning. I think it took both the commercial and educational space to get back up to speed with laptops and adjusting to this new working environment.

The challenging part of completing the certifications as a professional is having enough time during their day, as well as being in an environment without many distractions.

With people now working more at home, they can carve out time to take the exams. Our program numbers in the commercial area have been ok all things considered – the education side of the program did drop in numbers earlier in the year but has leveled out.”

“The certification program continues to grow, and I give so much credit to my team on this success and growth. We’ve started offering certification for the different roles available through the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform and are seeing more people participate in those.

As we begin 2021 we are set to issue the 500,000th certification.

Some other exciting numbers that I’m happy to share are the number of 3DEXPERIENCE Works Portfolio Certifications that are being issued.

In 2020 we grew the number of certifications 132% reaching the 5,000 mark.

With plans to introduce exams for new roles that are being released this year, 2021 is set to be a big year for the certification program in regards to the 3DEXPERIENCE Works Portfolio.

We expect that with the vaccines becoming available that 2021 will be a significant year of growth for the certification program.”

What are the plans for the Certification Program at 3DEXPERIENCE World 2021?

“As you know, 3DEXPERIENCE World is being hosted as a virtual event for 2021. Certification Day is a big part of the event and is being held on Monday, February 8th (a change from historically being held on Sunday ahead of the conference)

In the past, we have been limited to how many people can physically participate in certifications at the event and we’ve had to host 2 sessions. Even with 2 sessions, we would only be able to accommodate about 350 people every year.

The virtual event allows us to include more people in the certification program. As of the first week of January, we have 1,000 people signed up to take a certification exam! (editor’s note: at the time of the interview w/ Mike in late December, there were 600 people registered and Mike joked about getting to 1,000 people)

What this year really comes down to is opportunity – we are giving away the opportunity for SOLIDWORKS Certification at 3DEXPERIENCE World 2021.

Anyone that is registered for 3DEXPERIENCE World is entitled to some certifications for free – the VIP option entitles people to additional ones.

Read more about Certification Day and what exams are available on the 3DEXPERIENCE World website.”

Mike, what can you share with us right now about the CSWE Event at this year’s 3DEXPERIENCE World?

“When we learned that 3DEXPERIENCE World 2021 was going to be a virtual event, we started our planning and working with the events team on details for both Certification Day and the CSWE event.

The events team are an amazing group of professionals and have worked so hard to create a successful event – hats off to them!

Our goal for the CSWE event is to host the most ‘non-virtual’ virtual event that we can possibly host.

The CSWE event will be a 2-hour long streaming event that will be held on Monday, February 8th from 2pm-4pm EST (with no venue to close, it could run even longer!)

We plan to have some special guests join us as well as some customers that will share their stories. Gian Paolo Bassi may join us and who knows – he may show us his favourite cocktail recipe.

We are finishing up all of the details to make this a fun event in this virtual environment.”

“We are already looking to next year and planning for 3DEXPERIENCE World 2022 as a real live and in-person event!”

It was a pleasure speaking with Mike, learning more about the success of SOLIDWORKS Certifications, the effect the pandemic has had on certifications and what we can look forward to at 3DEXPERIENCE World 2021 and the future of certifications!

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