'Santa Claus has a present for you!' photo (c) 2008, Aurélien Yarrow - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/When firing up my Facebook this morning, I saw this post by my colleague Stacey. Like me, she is the mother of a 5-year-old, only that hers is a boy – Owen.


Being a mother myself, I keep experiencing the same challenge: What to buy for Christmas? In my case, it’s even worse, as my daughter’s birthday is just a month before Christmas.


Anyway, here’s Stacey’s post on Facebook:


‘Mom since Santa has a workshop this is what I want him to make. A wood horse with a red button that will make it gallop, walk or trot and horse shoes that will make the clip clop sound. It should have a mane and a tail that I can brush. It also needs a saddle with stirrups, a briddle and reins. It also needs shoes that will come with a hammer and nails so I can change the shoes when needed.’



Ha! There isn’t anything more inspiring than the imagination of a child – and what is even more amazing is the eye for detail they show when they come up with their list of things they want!


So while the offerings on the toy market are pretty standard, I am sure anything can be designed with the right CAD software.


Do you think Santa uses Creo?


Well, I know YOU do!


And you are all creative people, too. So why don’t you help Stacey by designing a horse for Owen?


I have created this photoalbum here  - please upload your designs to the album and Owen will pick the winner in the New Year! I will give a free t-shirt to the “winner” – but you should be seeing this as your good deed for the Holiday Season…


Seasons Greetings!





A few weeks ago, we had asked you to celebrate Halloween with us -- the CAD way.


Now, we are half-way through November and looking forward to the next big events on the calendar – Thanksgiving in the USA, and then, of course, Christmas is also only a few weeks away.


For me, the next big event job-wise is PlanetPTC Live in Stuttgart, Germany, which is happening tomorrow and on Wednesday as well as the PTC Tech Forum in Copenhagen, Denmark, on Thursday. These two are also the reason why today’s blog post will be quick and dirty. I wanted to announce the winners before I take off for Stuttgart.


I will come up with a more in-depth commentary of the contest after my trips, and – of course –  will take a look at what has happened over at GrabCAD.com!


We have seen a lot of beautiful and creative pumpkins and it was fun checking in on the photo album on a regular basis to see what you all have been uploading. Many thanks to everyone who has contributed!


We closed the contest today and here are the pumpkins with the most “likes”:


"Halloween Cat" by Vladimir Palffy




"Boo" by Darel Medley



Tim McLellan and Chris Napier sharing 3rd place with these two beauties:



Congratulations to the winners! I will reach out to you shortly to arrange shipping of your prizes




Scary Designs

Posted by BettinaGiemsa Oct 12, 2011

Halloween is near!


'Jack-o'-lantern' photo (c) 2010, William Warby - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Being from Germany, Halloween is pretty new to me. We have been adopting the concept from the English-speaking world in just the past couple of years.  It has become pretty popular over here, too, to carve out pumpkins, do costume parties and decorate the houses. Hey, who would say No to an additional reason to party?!


I love this time of year and we have turned it into a family activity where we invite some friends who have small kids as well and carve jack-o-lanterns together – great fun for the kids and a ton of cooking and baking for me afterwards. By the way, what’s the best tool to hollow out a pumpkin? Any tips? I find this to be quite a difficult task!


Designing a jack-o-lantern in your CAD system is probably much easier!


I spoke to my colleague Ian Pilkington in the UK to see if he has any ideas...


How to design the perfect jack-o-lantern


  1. Use a sweep with a graph-driven profile to generate the ‘segments’ of the pumpkin

  2. You could use a relation to work out how wide each segment could be so that it can be patterned round into a circle (to form the main bit on the pumpkin.

  3. Do all of this as a surface and then join all the surface segments together to form a ‘skin’

  4. Add rounds between each segment

  5. Solidify the skin into a solid with a relatively large thickness (i.e. as thick as you want to ‘scoop’ it out)

  6. Model the stalk on the top (Freestyle in Creo would be great!)

  7. Project a cut into the side of the pumpkin from a sketch (scary face etc etc)

  8. To render, use one of the standard scenes but change the wall colors to dark or orangey type color….

  9. Use an environment light or a skylight to light the externals of the pumpkin

  10. Assign the color of the pumpkin to be yellow, and the external surfaces orange and green for the stalk. That way it will look orange on the outside whilst the scooped out bit will be yellow. You can play around with reflectivity etc to get the right result. You could also use a pre-set material like stone (but in yellow) to show the outside as a ‘rough’ texture.

  11. Place an additional light bulb light inside the pumpkin (with color set to yellow) to simulate a candle etc. (you could even model a candle to make it look more effective.

  12. Set perspective view and you are good to go…..


Wanna try?


I have created this photo album for you to upload your designs and to vote for your favorite. On November 15, 12pm noon EST, I will take a look and pick the 3 designs with the most “likes” to be the winners of a box of PTC gear.


If you need some inspiration or, like me, are new to Halloween, take a look at some renderings from fellow PlanetPTC Community members from last year...


This time, again, we are being challenged by our friends over at GrabCAD.com. They are doing the same call to action to their users and we are competing for the most user contributions. So, for the honor of PlanetPTC Community, design a jack-o-lantern and upload it here!


Join us for this fun contest & Happy Halloween to all from Germany!



Just recently, we have learned what beautiful and artistic images we can create with CAD: we had called our users to design butterflies in Creo and then were joined by our friends at GrabCAD extending the call to action to their users. As a result, both our communities had received a variety of butterfly designs created with Creo and many other design tools. Take a look at the results from PlanetPTC Community http://communities.ptc.com/photoAlbums/1059 and GrabCAD, if you haven’t done so yet.

As you may already be aware, as this has been discussed heavily in the press, PTC released Creo Sketch this summer. Creo Sketch is a stand-alone 2D design application that allows users to easily transform hand-drawn sketches into finished artwork. It allows you to explore ideas, smooth out rough edges, and evolve concepts. Creo Sketch is like an electronic version of a napkin or notebook--without the coffee stains.

The fact that this is a fully functional piece of software – all for free – makes it lovely. But what impresses me even more is all the great work I started seeing once the app had become available for download!


Here on PlanetPTC Community or on the Creo page on Facebook , people have started uploading their sketches. And, sketches in the original meaning is the wrong word here, as some of them are real pieces of art and have actually nothing to do with technical products at all…


Cartoon character created with Creo Sketch

Hairdryer concept created with Creo Sketch



This sparked an idea – It’s time for a new contest here on PlanetPTC Community!!

Just follow these 3 steps:

  1. Download your free copy of Creo Sketch.
  2. Create a sketch. Explore the full functionality of the product and show your artistic skills! Be unconventional – your sketch doesn’t need to show a technical item.
  3. Submit your sketch.
    Either upload to this album on PlanetPTC Community http://communities.ptc.com/photoAlbums/1083 directly or submit to HelloCAD {at} ptc {dot} com and add your caption in the email so we can upload to the photoalbum on your behalf.


The prize
This time we have a special prize for you: the artistry you have proven by submitting to the contest deserves being put on canvas. Therefore, we will be giving you a gift voucher for "Paint a Pic" – a new service that turns your image into a paint by numbers kit.

The rules
Everyone can participate – no matter of what design software you use in your day-to-day jobs. Creo Sketch is for everyone and we will upload any images to the photo album as long as they don’t depict anything offensive as determined by our Community Rules of Use.


  • You can submit your sketches until Monday, October 17, 12:00 noon Eastern Time US.
  • After this period, the Community members can vote for their favorite images until October 31, 12:00 noon Eastern Time US. The 4 images that will receive the most "Likes" by members of PlanetPTC Community will win. Submissions by PTC staff will be accepted to the gallery, but not be eligible for the prize draw.
  • The winners will be notified by email and announced publicly on PlanetPTC Community


Happy sketching!




Tip: There are a couple of free tutorials for Creo Sketch on PTC University's LearningExchange!

>> Check them out here


Thanks to my colleague Jayabharathwaj Venkataraman for providing the images above and the great tutorials on LearningExchange.


Toothbrush concept created with Creo Sketch

Earlier this year, PTC University came up with a new service for our Creo Parametric (and Creo Elements/Pro and Pro/ENGINEER) customers: Expert Model Analysis, or for short: XMA. Basically, we have developed a tool that allows our consultants to run an in-depth analysis on the customer’s model data to spot opportunities for skills or best practice improvement.


Using over 50 measures and objectives, XMA helps uncover potential issues in the 3D designs. This is a great opportunity for the customers as it allows them to detect sub-optimal areas and take corrective action. If you’d like to learn more about the actual offering, take a look at:



Results of an XMA scanThis sounds like a great tool, and I reached out to our consultants to learn about the things beyond the official collateral. Turns out, I was advised to talk to Steve Meyers, whom I had already interviewed about his Creo tutorials on LearningExchange. Lucky me, as Steve is great to work with and I immediately got a time set up for a quick call with him. So here we go!


Bettina: The analysis itself is referred to as “scan” – how many scans have you done for our customers already?


Steve: I have personally done 6 so far and the average number of models we scan for this analysis is ~350.


Bettina: Great, this sounds like you are in good shape to give feedback. So, what are your findings so far – Is there anything that the customers have in common?


Steve: So far, I was able to discover two common issues:


  • In the Geometry Quality category, all of the scans I have done show a need to pay attention to the accuracy setting in models.  The advice given by XMA is to use Absolute Accuracy when appropriate, and to tune part accuracy for small geometry (typically large parts that have some small features).

  • In the Design Intent Strength category:
    • Most customers can improve their models by avoiding edge references, and by improving feature order (place rounds and chamfers on the model later).
    • For customers who tend to create complex geometry, I often see a warning about Complex Sketches (sketched that have more than 25 entities in them).
    • Most customers could improve their models by fixing “Design Intent Unclear” warnings that appear during modeling.


Bettina: Steve, it sounds like XMA can identify a huge optimization potential – especially with very large organizations. When I imagine just one best practice that can be implemented as a result of an automated analysis, but is then multiplied by a number of x sites and/or design teams in an organization… awesome.


Steve: Yes, XMA does a great job of showing customers where it makes sense to spend time on improving their modeling.  Efficiency is key for all organizations. The subject of CAD modeling standards always comes up.  Some companies have no published standards for modeling practice, and others have standards that are published, but are either outdated, or not enforced.


Bettina: Thanks for taking the time to talk to me, Steve! I am sure, I will get back to you in a little bit to see if we can actually talk to one of your customers, soon, so we get to know another perspective!




PS: If you would like to leverage this rather new service for your organization, you can request an Expert Model Analysis here.

Let’s start this blog article with a big, big, virtual hug to our users here on PlanetPTC Community who have responded to our recent call to action and designed some great butterflies to represent this community in our fun challenge ‘against’ the GrabCAD.com team!

I put ‘against’ in quotation marks as this is such an ugly word in itself. Actually, what was born purely out of spontaneity, turned out to be a super-fun project for both sides and yesterday, Hardi and Josh from GrabCAD as well as Dan and me representing PTC, exchanged a couple of emails and decided to do more stuff like this in the future – together. So watch out for some nice design challenges in cooperation with our new friends at GrabCAD.

So who has won this time?

Though we called it a challenge, it is actually hard to pick a winner for several reasons:


  • The GrabCAD users stuck to the glasswing butterfly theme and provided some really beautiful designs – all breathtakingly beautiful.
  • PlanetPTC Community users had experimented with the butterfly theme overall – there are all types of butterflies and different textures/materials were used and we got even one animation.
  • The number of submissions and submitting individuals was about equal.
  • While we at PlanetPTC asked to use a PTC product, of course, GrabCAD users could use any CAD tool of their choice.


We all ‘won’ by having a fun experience working together and both communities have gained some great models and images to share.


To sum it up, here are the ones we personally liked best:


PlanetPTC Community

Anthony's butterfly model

PlanetPTC Community member Anthony Mahynski created this butterfly http://communities.ptc.com/photos/1488 in Creo Elements/Pro 5.0.

Dave's butterfly model

A highly detailed image of a Glasswing butterfly

modeled and rendered in KeyCreator by Dave Cancilier.

Tim's butterfly model


This beauty http://communities.ptc.com/photos/1485 was created in Creo Parametric 1.0

and rendered in KeyShot by Tim McLellan.

David's butterfly model

This Glasswing butterfly model
done in SolidWorks and rendered in Houdini was created by David Thomas.


To view all submissions on each platform go to the PlanetPTC photoalbum http://communities.ptc.com/photoAlbums/1059 and the GrabCAD Library (search “glasswing”).

Which one is YOUR favorite?


Joint greetings from the US/Germany/Estonia!


Bettina, Dan, Hardi & Josh

Can you believe it? It has already been 6 months since PTC University launched LearningExchange – an online learning application featuring FREE tutorials on (almost) all PTC products. If you haven’t checked it out yet, make sure you do!  I also outlined my thoughts on it in an earlier post and was happy to see that much commenting and interaction on it.


Adrian LaSala, PTC

I sat down with Adrian LaSala, who has driven the initiative around LearningExchange from its beginning. We went over some of the frequently asked questions from our use rs to dispel some myths and find out what is in store for LearningExchange in the future.


Bettina:  As LearningExchange celebrates its 6-month milestone, how has the vision of this project held up? What has the response been like?


Adrian:  Our objective from the beginning was to provide our end-users with as many free tutorials as possible. We have stuck to that ambition, releasing almost 300 new tutorials on the site since launch, including over 100 Creo 1.0 videos – and that number continues to increase each day!


The response to LearningExchange thus far has been great. We often hear from users that the tutorials are helpful as well as some additional feedback about the site (which is still in its beta stage).  We even have some people who use the tutorials to get more information about a product before they purchase it. We feel as if we have been clearly satisfying a need based on the activity around LearningExchange over the past 6 months.


Bettina:  Many of our users have PTC product tutorials of their own. Can they contribute content to LearningExchange?


Adrian: We are currently only publishing PTC content and therefore are not accepting user-generated content at this time. However, as the site evolves and we assess demand for user-generated and user-contributed content, we hope to add this as a future enhancement to the site. In the meantime, we invite our users to visit PlanetPTC Community and share their tutorials there.


Bettina:  What if a user doesn’t see something they are looking for on LearningExchange? Can they suggest new tutorial topics?


Adrian:  Yes – in fact, we encourage it! By logging into LearningExchange, users are able to contact us with feedback, new topic suggestions, what they like, what they don’t like or what they want to see – and we do listen! The site was created for our users and any constructive feedback as to how to make the site better is welcomed. We’ll keep tabs on popular or “often requested” topics and try to keep up with demand.


Bettina:  Are there other ways that users can connect or engage with PTC University to give feedback?


Adrian:  Great question. PTC University is on Facebook and Twitter; these are both great ways to engage with us about LearningExchange or other training topics. As well, if you are working with Creo, we invite you to chat with us on the Creo Training by PTC University LinkedIn subgroup.  Finally, PlanetPTC community is another way to request tutorials or training content for which you are looking.

Bettina:  Most of the tutorials on LearningExchange seem to be beginner or intermediate level. Why not more advanced tutorials or exercises?


Adrian:  We get this question a lot and it’s a great one to address. LearningExchange tutorials are targeted on a single task and are a great way to explore the capabilities of our products. The tutorials are not exercise-based. In this way, we are not expecting users to try to replicate exactly what they see. Instead, we hope they will translate what they see in the tutorial into what they are working on.


That being said, we are currently releasing some Best Practice Academy tutorials which cover more advanced topics and focus more on best methods and processes. Again, we also welcome suggestions and will try to tailor what we release to what our users would like to see.


Bettina:  One last question: what has been the most popular content so far? Do you have top tutorials you can share with our readers?


Adrian:  Sure. Not surprisingly, as of late, Creo 1.0 content has really risen to the top. We currently have Creo Parametric, Creo View and Creo Simulate content on the site. Overall, Creo (and Elements/Pro and Pro/ENGINEER) content tops the list of most viewed and most "liked." We also tend to receive the most requests for "how-to’s" in this area.




The top 3 tutorials on LearningExchange as of today are:


It all started yesterday with my most recent blog post where I talked about the transparent wings of the Glasswing Butterfly...


Dan Marotta, our Community Manager here on PlanetPTC, chimed in to the comment thread and offered prizes to those who would model and render the glasswing butterfly mentioned in the blog post.


Excerpt from my Twitter conversation with Siim Teller of Grabcad.com

When I fired up my computer this morning, I saw a Twitter message from Siim Teller saying, “his” users over at Grabcad.com would easily be able to handle this… so the challenge was born…

Which of the two communities has the most active users?

I trust in our PlanetPTC Community and know that we have some of the best engineers and designers from all over the world on board.


Please take a look a the butterfly image and model it for us – any image of the model would work, screenshot of the model, rendering, …


Please upload your image to this album: http://communities.ptc.com/photoAlbums/1059


Dan had originally offered gift cards as quantity allows – let's change it to: Of all butterfly submissions, we will pick 5 gift card winners randomly, but every PlanetPTC Community user who uploads a butterfly image generated with a PTC product will get a free t-shirt for sure!


A few “rules”:




I look forward to your contributions – let’s beat our friends over at Grabcad.com!


Let the games begin!



This is the call to action for the Grabcad users

'the wings-become-windows butterfly.' photo (c) 2007, Eddy Van 3000 - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/Today, I received a message from Greg Frankland, the same Greg Frankland who asked me to write about bananas. Well, looks like my first story was good enough to make him want read more.

In his message, he said “maybe this little guy will give you something to write about” and pointed me to a blog post about exotic butterflies: "The Incredible Glasswing Butterfly".


First of all, I had never heard of this species – have you? – and I must say I am pretty impressed with the beauty of this little thing.

In the article it reads:



“Transparency in nature is not something that has been very well understood. In order to achieve transparency the tissue must not absorb light. Neither can it scatter light, as this is the major obstacle to being see-through. …. The wings of the glasswing must, therefore, have the same refractive index all the way through them as otherwise this transparency could not possibly occur. It is thought (a postulation at the moment rather than sure fire fact) that the surface of the wing has a covering of protrusions that are so small they can be called submicroscopic. They have a single refractive index and so do not scatter light, so making the wings transparent.”

Many thanks to Greg for suggesting the topic. Transparency is a cool topic to discuss in an engineering context! We’ve created a little article when we reworked the rendering engine with the release of Creo Elements/Pro 5.0.


In this article  we discussed  a few best practices for rendering. The intention was to give the readers an introduction into what needs to be considered in terms of lighting, applying shadows, and global illumination. However, how does this relate to transparent objects?

Below are some of the best sections of that article, as I think this may be useful to those of you who are about to start dealing with renderings.


For the rendering experts among you, feel free to share your tips & tricks – or share some images with transparent components that you created!






Four Best Practices for Photorealistic Renderings

While photorealistic rendering applications for engineers are not new, they are now more advanced and easy to use. Additionally, some are being integrated into standard CAD/CAM/CAE  packages. This allows engineers to use their existing models seamlessly to create photorealistic images, rather than having to export models from their CAD/CAM/CAE system and import them into the rendering system.

As a result, more engineers have the opportunity to take advantage of these capabilities and their benefits. However, engineers with little experience with lighting, surfaces, and other aspects of photorealism will face a learning curve. Following four best practices—using imaged based lighting, appearance libraries, physically correct lighting and global illumination, and realistic shadows—can help engineers with all levels of experience with photorealistic rendering to more quickly and easily create highly realistic renderings.



Image-Based Lighting


One of the most difficult and time consuming aspects of rendering for those who are not lighting experts is positioning the lighting in a realistic manner, which can be a highly iterative process. Image based lighting (IBL) takes the guesswork out of lighting for novices. Using IBL, the user wraps a high dynamic range (HDR) image around the model. HDR is an image format that is used for settings, such as rooms or courtyards, that include the correct lighting and color to generate the right reflections. The HDR image becomes the background for the model,  eliminating the need for users to manually position light sources. By using an HDR image, novices can instantly take advantage of expert lighting for use in their renderings. Millions of HDR images are available for purchase or download.



Check Out an Appearance Library


Another time consuming aspect of creating a photorealistic image is building up the materials on the surface of the model so it has the right texture and light reflectance properties. For example,  glass, stainless steel , wood or injection molded plastic all require a different set of appearance parameters that include reflection, glossiness, and color texture (e.g. wood grain).  By selecting from a library of appearances and placing them on the model, engineers can quickly and easily ensure that their models have the right surface properties every time.



Physically Correct Lighting and Global Illumination

Advanced users who want to set up their own lighting for their renderings can gain a better understanding of the impact of lighting on the model by using physically correct lighting and global illumination. Physically correct lighting includes two pre-set characteristics for every light used in the image: Intensity, which is represented by lux or wattage, and the color temperature of the light, which is the color the light gives off. For example, incandescent light gives off a yellow light while florescent gives off a blue light. Physically correct lighting applies the right intensity and color values when users select a lighting type, rather than requiring them to set these parameters manually.  This allows users to set up lighting more quickly and increases accuracy by reducing the likelihood of  errors. When the system uses standard terms for preset values(i.e. watts instead of lux), users will find it more intuitive and usability will improve.

Physically correct lighting should be used in conjunction with global illumination capabilities, which calculate the impact of both the light that comes directly from the light source and the indirect lighting that bounces off surfaces. Another aspect of global illumination is caustics, which show how light rays that are reflected or refracted by a curved surface or object appear on another surface. Together, physically correct lighting and global illumination enable engineers to see the full impact of illumination on the scene and on the model.



Realistic Shadows

Shadows have subtleties that, if rendered properly, make images look more realistic. First, shadows do not have hard edges. Users of photorealistic rendering software should remove any sharp edges from their models by using rounds and fillets.

Also, users should incorporate transparent shadows where appropriate. If a light shines on a solid object, the shadow will be grey. But if it falls on a transparent object, the shadow will pick up the color of the object the light is shining through. Using a transparent shadow capability in the software will incorporate the color of the transparent object in the shadow.


Engineering & Bananas

Posted by BettinaGiemsa Jul 21, 2011

This post is for Greg Frankland

Greg, thanks for your suggestion. You actually picked an easy topic as there is a ton to say about engineering in the food sector. We have even sponsored an episode of the Product Design Show on engineering.com recently where we featured a couple of Creo Elements/Direct customers and how they used the product to design their food processing equipment…

'Bananas' photo (c) 2006, gailf548 - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/When I read your suggestion, however, what immediately came into my mind was fruit picking! Maybe because I own a garden myself and now, in summer, am going through a busy time picking fruits and vegetables, cleaning, and cooking marmalade.

I did a quick search to see if “banana picking machine” would bring up anything. Thinking about all the creepy animals that usually live in the regions where bananas grow, I thought having a machine to do the actual picking on the plantation would be desirable...

Instead I found that some automation exists for various fruits. Fruit picking overall still seems to be a very manual process which involves high labor cost. Thus, many farmers would certainly welcome a higher degree of automation.

Although being a total layman in this field, I ad hoc see a couple of design challenges here:


  • Not all fruit can be picked at the same time – some may be not yet be ripe when others are: this would require sensors to check color, softness etc. of the fruit.
  • Fruit needs to be handled with care, stress marks will not be a problem when the fruit is meant for further processing, but nobody buys a banana with black marks. Again, this sounds like super high-tech to me…
  • On the other hand, the equipment would need to be very robust as it would have to work in all weather conditions, dust and dirt.
  • Maintenance must be easy – farm staff may certainly be able to fix mechanic components, but E&HT components would certainly be trickier to handle.


Just from taking a look at the above bullets, such a design would require a high degree of customization depending on the fruit, the climate, the size of farm, etc. and would certainly be very costly.

I have seen a couple of examples of machines when I looked this up – maybe some of you have worked on such a design? Feel free to share your designs and comment.

I look forward to hearing from you!



P.S. Don’t forget to suggest a new topic!

"Engineering is Everywhere" -- You have heard this sentence from me before on this blog


'Engineers' photo (c) 2011, Rough Tough, Real Stuff - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/From the moment you wake up (likely via an alarm clock) to the moment you lie down at the end of your day (it takes some really elaborate woodworking machinery to build furniture) – pretty much all the things you use and see have an aspect of engineering to them.

Most of you who read this, are actually engineers or work with engineers, so you are even more into it than anybody else - you think and talk about engineering topics at work. What I find fascinating, though, is to think about the engineering behind less common items, or the engineering in foreign countries, or the engineering throughout history – you get the idea.

Do you have a great personal engineering story to tell? Maybe your childhood friend who moved out of town when you were 10 is suddenly attending the same engineering class? Or you’ve met your wife/husband through work and have worked and lived together for a long time? What made you decide to pursue a career in engineering overall?

I want your stories!


This is going to be a kind of an experiment. I would like to write about whatever you suggest to me – you name a word or topic and I will find a connection to engineering. Challenge me!  Suggest an item to explore in an engineering context, or share your personal story.  I hereby commit to writing one story per workday (which means, that I will have my weekend to recover!) and publish it on this blog.

It may turn out that I will regret it, but after all, I enjoy writing.

Here are a few rules (sorry, can’t do without them!):


  • I will not talk about politics, religion, or any inappropriate topics.
  • You don’t need to be a user of PTC products – I will process any topic, but I will not mention the name of 3rd party products.
  • You can suggest topics by commenting on this post. Alternatively, you can follow  @BettinaGiemsa on Twitter and suggest topics addressing me this way. Just make sure to use the hashtag #HelloCAD at all times. At the same time, I will push any new articles out using the same account and hashtag, so you can follow these stories easily.


So, let me know if you have any questions.  Even better - shoot over your stories – it’s going to be fun (I hope)!




At PTC, it is an important part of our philosophy to give back to the community and employees are actively encouraged to engage in charitable activities in their regions. I don’t think this makes us anything special, in fact, many large organizations do engage and also contribute financial aid to charitable organizations. Not to mention the positive effect for PR.

While the weather in the AM was a mess, the sun came out around noon and the event ended up being a sunny one!Still, I would like to point at one activity I, myself, have engaged in just recently. It is a great example of the team spirit here at PTC and it makes me really proud to be part of the team.


My kudos go to my colleague Ute from the Ratingen office (Germany), who has organized this event for the 10th time this year and has dedicated a lot of time beyond her regular job tasks to make this a success.

So for the tenth time, Ute and many other colleagues from Germany, have organized this Beach Volleyball tournament where teams from various customer sites, PTC resellers, and PTC staff played against each other – ate and drank and partied – all for a good cause.

I have uploaded a few images to this album here http://communities.ptc.com/photoAlbums/1056. Take a look and comment, if you like!

I thought using my blog on PlanetPTC Community would be a good platform to say thank you to all who helped organize it.


Also, quick call to action to my fellow PTC team members abroad: if you are doing something similar locally, let me know. We have so many offices -- I personally would LOVE to learn more about what you guys are doing in your countries!

That’s my post for this Monday – have a great start into the week!




PS: if you would like to learn more about PTC’s other activities, take a look at this page: http://www.ptc.com/company/community-relations.htm

To mix things up a bit, I would like to introduce you to my new colleague, Megan Virtanen. She will commandeer my blog today with a special guest interview.  As one of PTC’s newest marketing members in our North American team, Megan has the opportunity to work closely with PTC’s Regional User Groups, or RUGs.  In an effort to become better acquainted with a RUG, she’s decided to go straight to PTC user and RUG expert Mike Dolan to find out what exactly is a RUG, what it means to be part of a RUG and what makes a RUG successful.


Some background first...

PTC/USER is the independent voice for users of PTC software. PTC/USER is the sole entity recognized by PTC as the official worldwide representative of its customers.  There are approximately 70 regional user groups worldwide associated with PTC/USER, which are also referred to as RUGs or regional user groups.


One such regional group is NOPUG, Northern Ohio PTC User Group, headed up by Michael Dolan.  Mike has 37 years under his belt as a business and engineering professional, allowing an experienced approach to product development and successful project management. He has gained this experience at the likes of B&W, Bridgestone/Firestone and Royal Appliance before starting his own engineering firm (Choice Designs / Concept2Production) 14 years ago. His Engineering degree is from The University of Akron with an MBA from Indiana Wesleyan University. Mike has been an avid PTC software user since 1989.


NOPUG OfficersMike has a great group of NOPUG officers behind him: Mike Brattoli (Moen) who has over 31 years experience as a project manager, design engineer, and adjunct professor at Kahr Bearing, Hyde Products, Transamerica Delaval, Lear Romec, and currently Moen.  Mike has also provided PTC product education to students at Lorain County Community College for the last 15 years, so he enables both a product development and educational perspective to the group.  He has been using PTC software since 1993.  Ron Rich (Keithley Instruments) and Ajit Singh (Akron Brass) have also been instrumental to making the NOPUG organization successful.


Here comes Megan's interview...


Megan:  Mike, we know that PTC Regional User Groups, or RUGs, are official representatives of PTC customers worldwide.  Are RUGs considered to be part of PTC Corporate or can anyone join a PTC user group?

Mike: We are an independent, not-for-profit corporation, organized by volunteers from companies owning PTC products.  Anyone who works for an organization that owns at least one seat of a PTC product may join, and membership is and always will be totally free!

Megan: You head up a PTC Regional User Group in your area, NOPUG (short for Northern Ohio PTC User Group), NOPUG has created the opportunity for Creo users in your region to meet with each other and exchange information.  Can you tell us more about NOPUG specifically?

Mike: We support PTC software users throughout Ohio and its surrounding states by providing engineering education. Engineering education comes in the form of providing PTC software knowledge, tips and tricks of software usage, module and update overviews, complimentary 3rd party software (PTC Global Partners) overviews and technical and engineering application for product and machine design.

Megan:  In addition to providing support, you also educate PTC users through file library resources, live events, and the like.  How do you effectively deliver information and resources?

Our meetings are live events to provide hands-on experience with the software, our webpage provides a resource of past topics tips, our local and international Vendor interaction allows local companies to find additional solution resources and the networking in our community develops needed relationships.


At each meeting, we advocate PTCUser.org, PlanetPTC community, PTC Technical committees PTC PLM interaction and sponsorship.  We try to learn and give insight into future software development direction as PTC shares product insight with us at our meetings.


We have built a long-standing, great relationship with the PTC product managers.  Our relationship is a something we have grown to enjoy, appreciate and respect.

Megan: NOPUG is actually the oldest PTC User Group in existence, established in 1991 at the local PTC Cleveland OH office (PTC headquarters located in Needham, MA.) Can you illustrate some of your group’s greatest successes over the years?

Mike:  Jeff Ewing of Rockwell Automation and James Vetta of PTC started the RUG with 11 people in a conference room at the PTC Cleveland office. They had the vision for a local community getting support from the local office. I was invited to the 2nd meeting and have served as an officer ever since.


The group was always about education and hands-on interaction so that theme has never changed. We tried to do provide very productive topics and make the meeting enjoyable to attend. The free lunches and prizes were added after more vendors started supporting our efforts. Now we are even able to give away a College Scholarship Award each year to promote higher education.

Megan: As a seasoned RUG leader, do you have any advice for new and/or existing RUGs?



A new RUG should:

  1. Get organized, find some other officers (engineers) to help you run the RUG, find  companies to host the meetings and gain a web presence
  2. Contact local PTC sales and support offices, local VAR’s and 3rd party vendors
  3. Contact both PTC/User at info@ptcuser.org or 877-878-8737
  4. Join the PlanetPTC community (http://communities.ptc.com/groups)
  5. Contact Megan Virtanen (mvirtanen@ptc.com) to get marketing support within North America.  If you’re located outside of NA, please reach out to your local PTC Marketing contact for advice.
  6. Maintain a contact database. This will be dynamic in the economy today so keeping up with the changes is critical



    Megan:  Your next meeting will be held on July 21, 2011 in Cleveland, OH, and will be your 61st meeting on your 20th anniversary.  How do you plan to celebrate this milestone?


    Mike:  We are going to have a blow out party. We are planning great food, we’ll be giving away great prizes, and inviting all previous officers to attend to honor them for their help and dedication.

    Megan: Your meeting on 7.21.11 will undoubtedly be an anticipated event.  Can new PTC users in the northern Ohio area attend, and if so, how do they register?

    Mike:  Please go to www.nopug.org and or http://communities.ptc.com/groups for up-to-date information and registration on the next meeting, but please note, advanced registration is greatly appreciated and will help us with planning the food and prizes for the meeting.

    Please contact the officers by email at board@nopug.org or you can call 877-405-6770.

    Thank you to all the Ohio companies who have supported our efforts for the last 20 years.


    Masterpiece or ****?

    Posted by BettinaGiemsa Jun 9, 2011

    Create the Future Design Contest by NASA Tech BriefsI have just sent out reminders to our users via Twitter and Facebook to alert them of the entry deadline for the Create the Future Design Contest 2011 by NASA Tech Briefs (disclosure: this contest is sponsored by Creo).

    This got me thinking once more about innovation and invention.

    I am assuming that for most of you, if not all, it is an overall objective to improve existing products and constantly make them better, but also create new models or entirely new products.

    Do you sometimes see items on the market that make you think “what a piece of ****” and wonder why somebody seriously invested money into manufacturing those? As engineers, you may even take more notice of such things than an average consumer like me, and you may look at these things more from a design perspective. Whereas I – with the pragmatic eye of a woman – would rather categorize as “useful” or “useless” – with a few categories in between such as “qualifies as a joke present”.

    I am sure many of us dream of having one great idea in our lives that makes us rich and famous.  Do you look at the world around you sometimes and think “I could change this gadget and it would be more efficient to use” or “I would need just a little apparatus to do this and that”? Or are you actually working on designs in your spare time? Creating things for everyday use maybe that could be a commercial success?

    I did a quick search on the Internet for useless gadgets and found things like


    • A pistol-shaped remote control (I know a TV program sometimes leaves room for improvement, but shooting at the TV?!)
    • A laptop steering wheel desk (you would never get certification for this in Germany where the fines for using a cell phone when driving are really high!)

    What is the worst thing you have ever come across?

    On the other hand, isn’t it often the plain and little – and often even cheap -- things that can make your life so much easier? Shoehorns, child-proof socket covers, --- can you list any?

    Looking forward to your ‘best’ items ;-)






    PS: Here's a related link. Ever wondered what America's goofiest patents are? Check it out!

    It's been a while since my last post. I have been busy preparing for two big events that more or less coincidentally happen at the same time: PlanetPTC Live and the release of Creo 1.0.


    In my specific job, this means a lot of updating, as we would like our online presences to reflect the branding of Creo in time for the release. This includes our groups on LinkedIn or various fan pages on Facebook.


    6707_Avatar_Creo_180x180.pngThis doesn’t sound like a big deal, but there is much more to it than you may expect. On some platforms, you can change the name of the group. For example, the Creo Elements/Pro group on LinkedIn has just been renamed to Creo – of course, we had to update the links on our website and we sent out a notification to the members of the group to update their bookmarks. Today, I have updated the images used on the group.


    For Facebook, however, this is much more complicated! Facebook does not allow the changing of a page name if the page has more than 100 fans. Bummer! The Pro/ENGINEER page we have maintained over the past three years has over 3200 fans!


    So we decided to start an entirely new page for Creo and phase out the Pro/ENGINEER page over the coming months. I am doing this with a tiny tear in my eye - after all, this was the first page we had ever set up for PTC on Facebook, and since I created it in late 2008, I had invested a considerable amount of time and effort into promoting and administering it. And now it’s time to say farewell to my baby… -- sigh.


    Something ends, and something new gets started – this is the cycle of life and overall, I am very excited about the new Creo page we just published today. To see it growing from zero and …


    You know what? I am just realizing that while the name is new and the product is new – the page is only continuing what we tried with the other one: provide a presence on Facebook where you, the users of PTC’s design software products, can gather and interact with us.


    I look forward to meeting you at the new “home” of Creo on Facebook – now go there and hit the “like” button!




    Fan gallery on the Pro/ENGINEER page on Facebook

    A snapshot of the "Fan gallery" on the old Pro/ENGINEER fan page on Facebook. The fans had uploaded and showcased hundreds of photos and videos over time. I hope you will continue with the same great effort on the new page!

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