Precocious middle schoolers pass SolidWorks test
For many years now, SolidWorks, one of the world's leading developers of 3D computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) tools, has offered certification exams for its products. In order to become a Certified SolidWorks Professional, a student must take a 3.5 hour exam testing the individual's ability to use SolidWorks CAD software. According to the Herald Tribune, the exam is typically taken by high school or college students, due to the complexity of the challenges involved.
However, the news source reports that SolidWorks officials were recently amazed to learn that nine students from Haile Middle School in East Manatee, Florida, recently took this test. Even more surprising, all but one passed.
According to the news source, approximately 24,000 schools, colleges and universities teach SolidWorks use, but company officials indicated that this is the first time members of a middle-school class has achieved certification.
Doug Wagner, Manatee director of career and technical education, told the news source that this initiative is part of the school system's commitment to preparing its students for college courses and the job market. He indicated that there are currently more than 1,000 job listings on Monster.com specifically asking for workers skilled in SolidWorks.
"These are high-demand, high-paying careers across the country," he said.
Recently, WANTED Analytics, a firm that specializes in tracking hiring practices and job demands in the United States, conducted a study suggesting that the demand for these skills may be even higher than Wagner indicated. In March 2012, the firm found more than 6,900 online job listings requiring familiarity or expertise with CAD software. This figure represented a 28 percent increase from March 2011, and was double the total found in March 2010. Of the listings specifying a particular program, SolidWorks was one of the two most cited.