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SOLIDWORKS User Group Leaders Take to the Road for the 1st Annual IronSWUG

Introducing the first-ever IronSWUG

After the past two years of mostly virtual SOLIDWORKS User Group meetings, we were excited to hear that two members of the SOLIDWORKS community are joining forces and taking SWUG meetings back on the road – in style.

Heather was recently joined by Brad Meador from the Star City SolidWorks User Group and Adam Ebernickel from the WNC-Asheville SolidWorks User Group to talk about an event that they’ve had in the works for a couple of years now – IronSWUG.

IronSWUG is happening the week of July 18th and will follow these two User Group Leaders as they travel (by motorcycle) over 2,000 miles to present at 6 SOLIDWORKS User Groups that span 4 states.

In this blog, Heather catches up with Brad and Adam to find out how this idea came about and the details you need to know about the first-ever IronSWUG.

Adam and Brad, please can you give us a little background on yourself and your user group?

Adam: Yep, my name is Adam Ebernickel and I’m from the northeast Tennessee area, I work in Burnsville near Asheville, North Carolina. The WNC-Asheville SWUG has been going on for about 15 years; I stepped in probably about 10 years ago and have worked closely with Phil Behm. In addition to that, I am the Southeast Regional SWUG Committee representative.

Brad: So, I am the SOLIDWORKS User Group Leader for Star City SWUG. We were just outside of Roanoke, Virginia and I’ve been part of the group as Group Leader for 5 years. In addition, I am employed at Altec Industries and have been designing in SOLIDWORKS for 15 years.

Let’s talk about IronSWUG. How did you both come up with the idea for this and what is IronSWUG?

Brad: In the motorcycle community there’s this thing called the “Iron Rider Challenge” It’s a group of long-distance motorcycle riders that like to take on insane challenges – such as 1000 miles in 24 hours. So, I decided let’s do 1,000 miles. At the time when we originally planned it was to do 1000 miles on a
motorcycle and hit all the SOLIDWORKS user groups that we could inside of that. But with COVID-19, we decided to switch it up and take the planning to a little bit of an extreme. We are going to hit 6 user groups in 5 days and cover about 2,000 miles.

Adam: We have been thinking about this for over 2 years and Brad and I had talked together during one of the Regional SWUG events. We kind of brainstormed together and said ‘dude, we love to ride, let’s go visit some user groups.’

Unfortunately, COVID-19 put the brakes on, but we were will still planning on doing it; by the summer of that year pretty much everything had been shut down and we put it on the back burner. When things were starting to lighten up again, Brad and I got back together and said – it’s time!

Brad: We figured it was time to get everything going again; user groups are moving back to in-person and people are moving away from only virtual meetings. Folks are tired of Zoom calls, and they got the ‘Zoom fatigue’. So, we decided to reach out to some groups and try to restart this idea – we are targeting the Southeast.

Brad: As Adam is the Regional Committee Member, it was easier to coordinate. We decided to try and do as many as we could in a week. We have 6 meetings to do in 5 days.

Where are you going to be visiting over the course of that week?

Adam: This has been very dynamic and very fluid. We were talking about going to different places and doing different things at one time. We thought about maybe even hitting the Northeast but we ended up settling on a little bit warmer climate just to make sure the weather is appropriate.

Brad is leaving from Roanoke (Virginia) and we’re running from there all the way down through Chattanooga (Tennessee) to Birmingham (Alabama) We will meet 2 groups there on Monday, July 18th – the Altec Birmingham SWUG, as well as the Birmingham SWUG. The next day, July 19th, we will be at the Pensacola (Florida) SWUG and then by Wednesday, July 21st, we will be in Atlanta at the Georgia Tech SWUG (a brand-new group with a lot of students and it looks like it will be awesome!). After that, we are going on up to North Carolina where we will visit the Charlotte SWUG and then by the Friday we will visit the WNC-Ashville SWUG.

The great part about this SWUG tour is that we have created new presentations for every single user group meeting we will be visiting – there will be no duplicates. Not only can people attend in person, but all of the meetings will also be held with a virtual option so people can participate the whole week.

Can you give us a preview of some of the topics you will be presenting at these meetings?

Brad: I’ve got everything from General Tips & Tricks to some design-related things, things like ‘what to think about in design and manufacturing’ and I’m even doing a few peripherals with SOLIDWORKS Visualize.

Adam: I’m touching on some of that as well, we will be doing a bit of SOLIDWORKS and peripherals as well; it will be good. There will be plenty of Tips & Tricks – some that have been talked about before but plenty of new ones as well. I’m going to do a couple of sheet metal presentations as well; basic sheet metal and then advanced sheet metal which I’m calling ‘mind-bending metal’ and another on envelopes which are very useful tools, especially in manufacturing and helping on the shop floor.

Brad, you said it a little bit earlier – how many miles do you hope to cover over the course of the week?

Brad: Well, as it’s 2022, we were hoping to hit about 2,000-2,200 miles full circle. If you have a motorcycle, hey just jump on to come visit or ride with us!

Can you share anything that may be in store that week – I mean, we will all have a chance to see your bikes but are there any other fun things you have planned?

Adam: There’s no better way to socially distance than be on a motorcycle in the wind. As far as fun stuff, we’ve got loads of stuff Brad set up. Brad has a website set up where you can track us and see where we are along the journey – he also has set up some Instagram things so that we can take photos and include people in the week. We are both going to have video cameras and can create videos and stuff to share.

Of course, at the meetings themselves, it’s great to get together and join us for the knowledge, food and some door prizes!

Brad and Adam, thanks so much for your time and we will see you in July! 

Heather from the DriveWorks team will be joining the IronSWUG tour on Wednesday, July 21st at the Georgia Tech SWUG. During her visit Heather will be sharing with the students of GA tech how they can automate their CAD models with DriveWorks.

Join Brad and Adam on the IronSWUG Tour

Find out more about the IronSWUG tour and how you can get involved.

Track their progress and follow the tour here.