Project Spotlight: 40 Engineers Build Solidworks City in 4 Weeks

GrabCAD is thrilled to present the hard work of over 40 engineers, designers, and non-CAD experts. Solidworks City was envisioned and led by Tommy Mueller using our beta collaborative tool. He wants to "choreograph the future" and saw this SimCity-like group project as an opportunity to "shatter people's paradigms." Can you bring engineers from around the world together to create something inspiring because they want to push the envelope of what is possible? That is exactly what Tommy and the Solidworks City crew wanted to find out.

Why build a city with open engineering?

Tommy was looking for a way to bring engineers together to build something they could all be proud to share. When he heard about our new collaborative tool - still in beta and under construction - he saw it as a chance to bring this project to life. He was inspired by games like SimCity where you interact with the landscape and where the city is always growing and changing. He thought, "Why not bring that kind of interaction to the engineering process?" You could actually get to shape and design the buildings in your city, not just choose what function they perform. This would have taken him more than 6 months on his own but he thought our tool could help him save enough time to get the work done in just four weeks. Read more, below, to find out Tommy's tips to a successful open engineering project.

Solidworks City Original Building Grid

He invited GrabCAD members to join him and gave them the chance to select what building they wanted to claim. It was as easy as marking it with a pin in the 3D Viewer. As you can see in the picture, people really liked planting a digital flag in their unique piece of CAD property.

Solidworks City Pin a Building to Claim It

The GrabCAD Team would like to thank and congratulate all of the participants for their individual contributions and feedback. This is the list of the 3D modelers who participated in the building and design of Solidworks City. As Tommy would say, "There is no other place to find all these people, other than GrabCAD." Thanks Tommy, we think so too.

City Base by Tommy Mueller
Building 01 by mees de ridder
Building 02 by Krista Casal
Building 03 by Hans de Ridder
Building 04 by Paul Tripon
Building 05 by Hans de Ridder
Building 06 by Tommy Mueller
Building 07 by Hans de Ridder
Building 08 by Tommy Mueller
Building 09 by Tommy Mueller
Building 10 by Tommy Mueller
Building 11 by mees de ridder
Building 12 by Hans de Ridder
Building 13 by Tommy Mueller
Building 14 by chris
Building 15 by Dick Lowe
Building 16 by JF Brandon
Building 17 by Verislav Mudrak
Building 18 by Hans de Ridder
Building 19 by Hans de Ridder
Building 20 by Stephen Nyberg w/ Sara Sigel
Building 21 by Tommy Mueller
Building 22 by Tobias Mattsson

Go to Solidworks City for a full list of collaborators.  [Please note that Stephen Nyberg totally carried our team, as I was only able to post a sketch with ideas while he did all the CAD work. That was one of the coolest parts for me, getting to be involved in the engineering process simply because I could view a 3D model in my browser.]

What were the main project milestones?

Once the grid was set and the buildings were claimed it was up to the collaborators to download and get to work. The buildings went quickly thanks to some clever advertising by Tommy.

Call to action for Solidworks City on GrabCAD

Creating a viable and scalable file system was very important to organizing every participants' CAD files. It was also important to provide quick feedback on any uploaded files to the project, which you can do in many forms on GrabCAD. For Solidworks City progress reports came in the form of beautiful city renderings. This was a big task but the visual reminder of what was being accomplished kept everyone engaged. In Tommy's words, "Let them know someone is on the other end. Be responsive."

Progress Updates Kept Everyone Engaged, Solidworks City on GrabCAD

After the first iteration of buildings, it was clear that everyone who contributed put in a lot of effort, so Tommy wanted to give back to his teammates. He created animations that took you on a virtual tour of Solidworks City and gave each buidling its turn in the spotlight. The animations that he created throughout the project (the final one is seen in the intro to this post) were a way to record the group's progress so far and each one really inspired building owners to add a little more detail, get their work out a little quicker, and cheer for each other during the process. In the end, the whole city grew into a mixture of skyscrapers, office parks, a water park, casino, stadium, a museum, and so much more.

Final Birds Eye View of Solidworks City on GrabCAD

What are your tips for success in a group project like this?

Tommy shared some tips with us after finishing up the project. What would you do to make a project like this a success? Let us know in the comments.

  • Get energy early. Collaborators will show a lot of interest at the beginning of the project. Use this time to share your big vision for the work and clearly state how they can add to it.
  • Go from small asks to larger ones. This takes the idea of warming up the crowd and applies it to project work. First get people posting comments, then ask for pins (lots of them), then move into heavier tasks like downloading and offline CAD work.
  • Don't have an ego. It is not about you. The idea and wider effort to collaborate are the main focus. So step back and let others share their work. Better yet, help others look good and everyone in the project benefits.
  • Be professional. Consider that this is work that can help add to your portfolio and build your reputation in the greater engineering community. The best way to win clients or a job is to do great work in a visible way.

What project is next?

Tommy is ready and excited to work with our private collaborative tool again. Solidworks City was such a success and so active that there was no doubt about following it up with another open engineering project, starting today. Please contact the project owners, Tommy or Krista, to be involved in this innovative experiment. The fun part? The theme is a secret until we release it to the greater GrabCAD community. Keep an eye out for its release. We will have more stories, tips, and models to share when it debuts!