Making Intricate Instruments on Impossible Deadlines –Helps to Be A CAD Ace


Kerry, who is 34 years old, will tell you he’s been an engineer for life. As a kid O’Donnell would visit his dad’s photo lab in their basement. Illuminated by the red glow of a photo lamp Kerry would stare into the photos his dad was taking of complex parts that various companies has hired him to document. In those images, whether they be of custom vibratory parts or transmission interiors, Kerry could see his future

As the years went on Kerry’s interest in mechanical systems grew and he found himself learning mathematics, computer science and earning a mechanical engineering degrees. Soon he was working for Indiana-based Miller Consulting Group.

At Miller, O’Donnell’s been involved with a number of intricate projects ranging from the automotive to the medical industry and almost everything in between. He singled out one project he was particularly proud of.

Cheap and Portable Eye Care for the Developing World

Not long ago Kerry and his team were approached by Aeon Imaging. Aeon was looking to build a portable, digital light ophthalmoscope to deliver affordable eye exams to rural areas of the developing world.

Not an easy task.


If you’ve ever been to the eye doctor you know that most of their instruments are complex and provide accurate measurements of the tissues that create your vision. An ophthalmoscope is no different.

An ophthalmoscope is a device that shines light into a patient’s eye to examine the retina, optic disc and optic nerve. Once a clear image of those optic parts has been rendered doctors can diagnose a number of retinal vascular conditions including glaucoma.

For Kerry and his team, developing the Aeon ophthalmoscope boiled down to a one thing. How were they going to build a portable device that could deliver precision diagnostics year after year in extreme conditions?

Aeon had delivered a few specs to Kerry’s team. They knew their scope would have to fit in a roughly 12”x12”x4” package and that it would have to be both light and durable.

With little more than that to go on Kerry and his team began designing the wiring, lighting corridors and packaging for Aeon’s new ‘scope. Using SLA 3D printing to iterate their design Kerry’s team rapidly took their initial plans from prototype to final injection molds in short order and delivered a device to Aeon that’ll work wonders in the developing world.

But what’s all of this got to do with SOLIDWORKS Certification?

Given Aeon’s tight development timeline, and the fact that Kerry was asked to design an ophthalmoscope package from scratch required some top-notch CAD skills.

Kerry is not one to brag, but inquiring minds needed to know just how skilled he was.  And as it turned out, Kerry’s mastery of SOLIDWORKS is a matter of record.

Figure 2 Kerry's team developed this portable ophthalmoscope for Aeon Imaging
Figure 2 Kerry’s team developed this portable ophthalmoscope for Aeon Imaging

Kerry is a SOLIDWORKS CSWE and has passed the CSWP exam, the CSWE exam and four of the five including the sheetmetal, weldments, mold tools and drawing tools subject test. Because of this achievement Kerry is considered to be among the top 1% of SOLIDWORKS users on the planet.
Whether it was surfacing, wire routing, FEA analysis, or even developing complex sketches rapidly, Kerry’s confidence in his SOLIDWORKS chops made engineering Aeon’s ophthalmoscope a much easier proposition.

We wondered if the Aeon’s project made Kerry decide to take the certification exams?

Kerry coolly responded, “No, I’m just ambitious and it’s just something that I wanted to do. I’ve been using SOLIDWORKS since 2004 and my experience with the software has made me a strong user.”

So, could anyone just sit down and pass a SOLIDWORKS Expert exam?

In Kerry’s mind that might be tough. “I think you need real world experience to help you figure out some of the more intricate problems in the exam.”

Coming from a bloodied SOLIDWORKS vet, that advice might best be heeded. Still, Kerry said “The exams are put together really well, just like SOLIDWORKS’ prep tutorials,” so there’s no reason to think that Expert status is unattainable.

Though Kerry’s only been a certified Expert for a few months he’s already confident that his new qualification will bring his team more business.

As the engineering services market becomes more competitive you’ve got to have something to distinguish yourself from the others. “Expert certification and a portfolio of good work will make you stand out from the rest,” said O’Donnell.

That being said Kerry isn’t going to allow Miller Consulting to rest on his laurels alone. “I’ve already started talking to other engineers on my team to convince them to get their certifications.”

About the Author


Kyle Maxey is a mechanical designer and writer from Austin, TX. He earned a degree in Film at Bard College and has since studied Mechanical and Architectural drafting at Austin Community College. As a designer Kyle has had vast experience with CAD software and rapid prototyping. One day he dreams of becoming a toy designer.

Recent Articles

Related Stories

Enews Subscribe