When we first looked at the upcoming SolidWorks Apps for Kids, we had only a quick glimpse of what SolidWorks intends to shape our children’s minds with. But we just had to know more. Fortunately Chin-Loo Lama, Senior UX Design Engineer at SOLIDWORKS, has been all too kind to answer a few more questions we have about the apps.

At SolidWorks World 2016, SolidWorks revealed 6 apps to introduce kids, not just to 3D modeling, but a 3D modeling workflow, starting from ideation and concept and going through to design and manufacturing. The idea behind the apps is to involve children in every step of the product development process. We love it. Others love it. And we’re sure it’s going to be a hit with quite a few kiddos out there. Here’s what Chin-Loo had to say about features of the apps, how they will be accessed, their core technology and whether or not we’ll see more apps in the future.

chin-loo-lamaSolidSmack: What age range are the Apps for Kids made for?
Chin-Loo: Apps for Kids are designed for children 4-14 years old or basically Kindergarten to 8th grade (in US school levels). Through our years of community engagement, we have learned that during the middle school years that this is time when kids start to form their expectations of what they feel will be their strengths and weaknesses and thus start to decide what they want to do in the future. So if they don’t have the self-confidence on their science and math skills, then they will likely never go down the path of STEM careers. We are hoping to open their eyes to the skills that they already have and help them see the connection between those skills and the skills needed to be in the STEM fields. In short, we want to remind them that they don’t need to be a math genius or a stereotype to be a right fit for a STEM career.

SS: What kind of features will we see in Apps for Kids? I’ve seen some children and young adults pick up SolidWorks. Will the features be similar?
CL: We are designing Apps for Kids from the ground up with the intention to foster imagination without the intimidation of software. We want to have the experience of learning be through play and exploration. To a grownup familiar with CAD and design workflow, features will look similar to those you find in SOLIDWORKS, like the view orientation cube. However, many of the workflows may take a different form more appropriate to the way a child would think rather than a seasoned professional engineer.

SS: How will people access the software? Is it downloadable or will it be accessed through a browser? Able to use on mobile devices?
CL: Currently, the apps will be accessible through a browser and the creations made by each child will be protected under a private account. It is our intention that these apps will be accessed through various mobile devices via the browser on those devices.

SS: Is there a focus on getting this into schools or any schools taking part in the beta?
CL: Starting this summer, we will involve teachers to work with us in developing lessons with Dassault Systemes’ SOLIDWORKS Apps for Kids. We are fortunate to have an extensive global Value Added Reseller network in SOLIDWORKS education that works with schools, school districts, and departments of education on a K-12 level. Our community will be an integral part of defining how Apps for Kids will be used in the classroom.

SS: Are the Apps built on Dassault technology? What kernel does it use? How does it relate/connect with 3DEXPERIENCE?
CL: Just like some of the kids we are designing these apps for, we are playing in a sandbox and exploring all possibilities to achieve the experience we feel most appropriate. Some will leverage technologies we know and some will be new areas we want to explore. Ultimately, we would love to have these kids grow up with us and mature into our professional products, but for now, that journey is still taking shape and will likely take some time to fully form. Sorry for all the metaphors, but working on this project has really opened my mind to a simpler part of life. It’s like building a sculpture. You kind of know what you want it to ultimately look like, but along the way, you are trying all sorts of ideas to see what works and build upon each piece as you go.

SS: Are there plans for more Apps beyond the six mentioned at SWW?
CL: Absolutely, with the six that we have announced, we wanted to set the stage and create a connected world where we tell the story from a possible beginning to a possible end, where your idea can form and take shape using each app. However, we are already working on other apps ideas that will branch out and around further into this world. There is no shortage of ideas coming from our team.

A big thanks to Chin-Loo for the interview. Beta is still set to start early spring with a release scheduled for later in 2016 with SOLIDWORKS Education Edition. You can find out more and sign up for the beta at appsforkids.solidworks.com





Josh is founder and editor at SolidSmack.com, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.