When I first met Cholly, we talked about his obsession with building things. The man always had a project going on, with the next project already started in his mind. Since the time I started working with him, he has converted a Suburban to have a Hummer engine, and another with a bio-fuel diesel. He has built his own bobber chopper, renovated a home in northern New Hampshire, and is currently restoring and modifying a 1948 GMC Cab Over onto a modern chassis from one of those Suburbans. This is all very important in this story, because a big part of Cholly is his ability to learn by being hands-on.
Back in his younger days, Cholly worked running CNC machines. He became a journeyman mold-maker out of high school, and immediately went to work in his field. On the job one day. a co-worker showed him how to program the machines to automate the CNC machine process. His life was changed forever. Cholly saw that automation to the manufacturing process would streamline the work flow and bring the products he was creating inside of the shop to the consumer quicker.
He was pushed by a co-worker to spend hours teaching himself how to write code in C++. Cholly took a class at a local college to learn the language better. Soon their partnership ended but their friendship did not, and they both moved on to other jobs. One day while glancing at an article in Popular Mechanics, another life-changing moment happened. Cholly fell upon an article that was written about SolidWorks and the API functionality of the CAD software. Right away, he knew this would be a game changer for the company he worked for. He went to the ownership group and plead with them to buy a license, explaining how the software would change the way the shop ran. Ownership bit, and Cholly again was sent down a path of teaching himself how to design and model inside of SolidWorks. He spent a couple hours each evening immersing himself in the SolidWorks Essentials training manual and working with the software while studying. Out of the box, he created an extrusion, and then wrote some API code to automate the processes he used to create the extrusion.
Before his career at SolidWorks, Cholly used this very first seat to contract for local companies around him. He wrote code to simplify the process of design and manufacturing of plastics, and one day he was brought onto a team automate a plant. The SolidWorks team heard about this and came out to visit the factory. They later invited him to SolidWorks World to show other engineers and designers what he and his team did to reduce costs and increase efficiency through the use of SolidWorks and API. Shortly after that, Cholly came to work for SolidWorks as a full time employee.
While here in the SolidWorks family, his ability to be a quick self-learner and a hard worker helped others to see the potential he had. He became an API support engineer working with customers and helping them with their own code, and went on to write and teach the API Fundamentals training manual. SolidWorks sent him to Harvard for some classes, where he became a teaching assistant after he had designed and built his own CAD product. Cholly now works in product development, building on the greatness of SolidWorks. He currently is working on projects in the Parts Modeling Group.
I tell you his story because before anything ever came out of his mouth when we sat down and talked, his first words were “SolidWorks is by far the greatest CAD/CAM tool ever invented. It is hands down the best tool for any engineer to use, and it changed my life.” Cholly is not only a family member in the SolidWorks business, he is also a user and a community member. He takes his knowledge and his experience from the shop, along with all that he learned and taught himself, and puts all of it into the product he is creating. His ability to understand the end user helps him to create the best most efficient processes inside of the software, helping SolidWorks users get their job done quicker.
In his spare time, you can be sure to see some amazing reply-to-all email jokes that get everyone laughing in the office, or see him with a racing helmet on, driving down the road in a Toyota Yaris with Dual Quad Carb setup bolted to the hood for laughs. His story, his experience, his commitment, and his humor are all part of what make the SolidWorks family great, and the product amazing.