Building a Career with Help from the SOLIDWORKS Community

Many engineers start their careers with their first CAD application in college or high school, but for other engineers, their fate is predetermined.

Alin Vargatu’s journey in engineering began with his father’s stories about being an army engineer officer, which he found fascinating as a kid. His father told of dangerous work mining bridges and defusing bombs. He was to realize later that what his father loved the most was building things—not destroying them.

In high school, he discovered his passion for metalworking, technical drafting and design. That led him to pursue a degree in robotics and automated production systems and eventually he began his first job, which was related to non-destructive testing in power plants.

“I remember lugging a 7kg ultrasonic detector ten stories above ground to look for fractures in huge pipes or crawling inside cavernous tanks to spray penetrant dyes. Since I hated manual, repetitive work, I designed a little robot that could revolve around these pipes and perform the ultrasonic testing unattended. I used that as the topic for my master’s thesis (MSc in welding and NDT).”

It wasn’t long before Vargatu realized he missed designing products and joined Teknion, a leading office furniture manufacturer. “Teknion was a school for me. Not only did I learn everything I know about working with sheet metal there, but also the importance of design intent, modularity, configurability and… meeting deadlines. I had amazing mentors and cannot say enough great things about them.”

After Teknion, Vargatu spent a few more years designing products for office and store furniture manufacturers before joining Olympic Tool and Die. There he designed tooling, machinery, automation projects, gauges, fixtures and anything else his clients needed.

“At Olympic Tool and Die, we had clients from every industry you could imagine. My mentor, Arnold Santos (the owner of the company), was an incredible engineer and designer and he would go after any job that was available. Every day we had to design something new.”

Vargatu was awarded SOLIDWORKS Reseller AE of the Year in 2020. (Image courtesy of Alin Vargatu.)

Now, Vargatu works at TriMech Solutions, formerly Javelin Technologies, which has enabled him to “partner with the smartest people in the world and witness them creating and improving our world.”

First Introductions to SOLIDWORKS

Vargatu first started using CAD in 1991, and says it was love at first sight. It wasn’t until 1997 when he was able to really start using CAD professionally.

“I started using 3D CAD professionally as part of one of the Teknion divisions. When the company decided to implement a unique 3D CAD software solution for the whole company, I was selected in a team of twelve engineers and designers from various departments to research and recommend which software would be the best for our needs. The next six months were amazing. All the software vendors wanted our business, so we got serious training in Inventor, Mechanical Desktop, IronCAD, Solid Edge, CATIA, Pro/E and SOLIDWORKS. We did a very thorough analysis. It was SOLIDWORKS that checked off every box.”

When he joined Olympic Tool and Die, they made it a condition of his employment that he become a SOLIDWORKS expert. After a couple years, Vargatu considered himself a power-user. When the company received training grants, he took the opportunity to take all the courses offered by their SOLIDWORKS reseller, for there were still a number of tools he needed to learn.

After continuing to take courses and using the tech support line, he became quite familiar with his company’s reseller. That reseller was Javelin Technologies, who eventually employed Vargatu. Since then, he has been a SOLIDWORKS user and evangelist, teaching and promoting the software to engineers and designers worldwide.

The SOLIDWORKS Community

Vargatu credits much of his engineering success to the SOLIDWORKS community and everything that the user-base has to offer. Whether he was leaning on his reseller to find more efficient workflows or collaborating with an organization as a presenter, there is a unity in the SOLIDWORKS community that he’s found invaluable.

 “I took advantage of everything [the community] had to offer,” he said. “I started by asking questions on the SOLIDWORKS Forum and I got perfect answers fast. The next step was brainstorming with the users to find solutions together. Once I became more confident, I started to give back to the community: answers in the forum, articles and videos in various publications, including, presentations delivered at SOLIDWORKS User Groups meetings, SOLIDWORKS World, 3DEXPERIENCE World and more. I cannot overstate how important the SOLIDWORKS Community has been for the success of my career and for my continuous development as a human being.”

Vargatu shares his power-user skills with a group of user group members. (Image courtesy of Alin Vargatu.)

Thought leaders within these communities are vital to their growth and sustainability. CAD and its associated tools can be used in a number of ways to get the same result. That’s part of being an engineer—not just getting something done, but finding an efficient way to do it.

Vargatu credits his mentors as being a major component to his success. Now, as a certified SOLIDWORKS Champion, he is giving back to the community that helped build his career.

Vargatu with Dassault Systèmes CEO, Bernard Charles, at 3DEXPERIENCE WORLD 2023.

“If I were to pick a single hurdle that might hinder a young engineer, it would be finding good mentors. I was blessed by having excellent mentors throughout my career. With the easy access to vast amounts of information, some people might think that they can find anything they need on the web. That is true, but the great challenge is filtering the irrelevant or even unproductive noise from the good data,” he said.

Vargatu enjoying a canoe ride during a day off from the engineering grind. (Image courtesy of Alin Vargatu.)

Vargatu’s non-professional life is dedicated to his family and an affection for history and reading. This time has also given him an appreciation for time outdoors. Of course, the professional and non-professional worlds can sometimes bleed together, and he quoted what might be one of the best definitions for the broad term of what an engineer is:

“Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever met an engineer before. Are they all like you?”

“Yes,” the man said. “It’s a state of mind more than anything. You can’t help thinking in mechanisms; always in three dimensions and always five stages ahead. It takes a little while to learn.”

From Devices and Desires, K. J. Parker

It’s certain that Vargatu’s priorities on family and community have served him well both personally and professionally.

“One thing is clear,” he said. “You cannot improve your knowledge and proficiency on your own. I have been very lucky to work with an amazing team of professionals at TriMech, to partner with the most intelligent people who are my clients and to have access to the best community of users which is that of SOLIDWORKS.”

From his early years with an engineering father to his current status as a talented presenter and SOLIDWORKS expert, Vargatu’s ability to connect with the community has helped both it and himself grow as an engineer.

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