Solid Edge Training Options

Being self taught kind of sucks. I know. I was self taught in SolidWorks. I worked at a company that bought the software, had me scheduled for training, and then at the last minute, cancelled the training. So I still had to deliver a project, I just didn’t know the software I was supposed to do it on. I taught myself using the help files and by filing bug reports.


Solid Edge Start Up Screen Options

Thankfully, Solid Edge ST4 is well ahead of where SolidWorks 97 was in terms of power and documentation. I got away with being self taught 15 years ago, but I don’t think you could do that now with any CAD tool. There is too much to learn now to teach yourself by fumbling through the software. The penalty for missing some valuable piece of information is just too great.

Fortunately, Solid Edge has a number of nice training aids that organize the information you need to know in order to run the software efficiently. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

On the Solid Edge Start Up screen you see when SE has finished opening, you see the options shown up above.


Part Modeling Intro

The Part Modeling link sends you to a pretty basic tutorial that introduces sketching, dimensions, and simple features. The point isn’t making the part, which is pretty uninteresting, the point is to get your feet wet in the Solid Edge workflow. The specific tools are less important than the overall workflow.

Going through this tutorial you learn about the interface, a little about the differences between Synchronous and Ordered workflows, and some of the ways you can use the concept of Regions, even with open loop sketches, which SW users will see as a bit of a time saver. (Similar tools exist in SW, they are just not as easy to use).

This kind of step-by-step tutorial is something that beginners really need. If there is a criticism here, I do find the pace of this tutorial, even for a beginner, a bit slow. If I were rewriting the tutorial, I would write it in two levels – a fast track that just shows you the steps needed to get to the end point, and a deeper track, that includes a lot of the explanation included in this tutorial. For more advanced topics, I might even include an expert deep dive which might for example include a topic like BREP manipulation, which will be important in Synchronous mode.

It’s hard writing tutorials for mixed audiences – rank beginners and more advanced CAD switchers. Beginners really need to see the same information several times, adding a layer of info at every pass. You can’t give them the full depth in just one shot. None of it will sink in. Paint it on in thinner layers. Repetition of simple concepts adding something each time.

The next heading is Solid Edge Learning Tools, which sends you back through the part and assembly tutorials.

The Self-paced training courses include powerpoint and pdf documents meant to be used by an instructor with a class. They include the Solid Edge files to be used during the exercise. There are a couple dozen of these covering topics from sketching to rendering. These look quite useful, and have more in-depth information than the beginner tutorials.

The Solid Edge help appears to be more useful than the SW variety has been. In particular, the functionality of the Solid Edge Command Finder, at the bottom of the screen has been copied by SW in the 2012 release, but I can tell you that the copy was poorly done and did not capture some of the best aspects of the Solid Edge implementation. Solid Edge Command Finder not only lists the results of the command search, but also highlights the locations of the item in the interface. This is a nice touch. Check out this little movie to show this function, which a static screen capture could not do justice. In the movie, a SW refugee is looking for the equivalent for Tools>Options.

Topics for Special Help and Training

Sources for Solid Edge Technical Support

There are additional Help topics if you click on the Help icon. This includes stuff for AutoCAD users and for Solid Edge programming. There is also a list of sources for where to get Solid Edge tech support. This is a nice list to have available right up front in the Help documentation. I haven’t been through each of these in detail, so maybe someone who has used these could comment on how useful you found the various links.

I can’t comment on the Solid Edge forums because I don’t have access. Maybe one day they’ll give me a read-only account. I’d be quite satisfied with that for the time being. I can see in the statistics for this blog that (after the Dezignstuff blog) the Solid Edge forum is the second largest referrer of traffic. So there is some activity in the Solid Edge forum. In fact, the very first public mention of On The Edge came from the Solid Edge forum. I’m a big fan of forums in general as a way to share information and meet people.

So overall, there are several places right within the installed software where you can find help at various levels. On the forum I’d be willing to bet that you could find expert help on just about any SE topic you could think of.


Add a Comment
  1. Hi Matt,

    “On the forum I’d be willing to bet that you could find expert help on just about any SE topic you could think of.” ….and you’d be smack on there! (and some)

    I agree, I love the forum mechanism also, and the camaraderie it brings. The direct contact with Siemens staff (even on Facebook, Twitter, etc…) is so reassuring, and even exciting, made even more so, as we near another version release. Dan Staples (among others) sometimes lets little hints about upcoming enhancements, without actually revealing the new fruit. This candour, I suspect, would also be the reason an open forum would be counter productive to how things are currently….having said that, high quality input such as yours, can only spark even further development. (Probably will, even from here)

    I’m following your blog with great interest, and only hope I can make worthy contributions.


  2. Hi Matt,
    Like you I am self taught but there have been 2 huge bonuses I found on my quest for Solid Edge knowledge.
    One was attending PLM world before the Solid Edge events existed (or stopped). Now they have resumed, getting together with the AE’s and developers, I always come back with a nugget which is invaluable to my workflow. Also I found a book by Sham Tickoo called St4 for designers (amazon). This book will take you through the interface through surfacing and everything in between.
    So needless to say I am looking forward to SE University this year.

  3. I was given the opportunity to learn Solid Edge over 10 years ago on version 9.  I was given 1 week, a book and left to do my own thing.  The engineering team at the time was using UG V18, I was an engineering clerk wanting to move up the ranks and there had already been a seat of Solid Edge purchased to use more-or-less as a viewer for quoting.  I was told that if I could make the edits they needed of me in Solid Edge after 1 week then I’d be given a shot as no new seats of CAD software was going to be purchased.  Fast forward to present and I am now a senior designer in a Solid Edge install base of over 100 users.  I pride myself in being one of the go to men for Solid Edge support.  Aside from new version “update training” I too am self-taught. 

    I think there is an underlying mentality that needs to go along with a good CAD user training.  Any CAD package will have quirks, flaws, inconsistencies’ or what-have-you;  I find that what separates the average user and the advanced users is the ability to navigate these obstacles without losing focus on the design at hand.   This kind of advanced users is one who cares to understand what the CAD package is trying to do under the hood and what inputs it is asking for.  Though not always the most obvious input, if a user slows down and feeds the system what it wants the outputs are usually much better.  Some users freak out the moment something fails or will not compute.  The ability to set back and consider all design approaches and consider what is being processed under the hood, in my opinion, is what separates the advanced users.  I don’t think this can ever be taught in a book or via tutorial.  I think you get this one of 3 ways: 1.) A natural gift/ability 2.)  Fortunate enough to work with a colleague who imparted this wisdom on you 3.) The school of hard knocks.  In my case I digress to my opportunity to learn and prove my own worth when I was an engineering clerk.  I felt serious pressure to just do it; or don’t. I felt that should I have needed a lot of support and help along the way I would have just remained in my role as clerk.  Taking the bull by the horns and tackling challenges one at a time, remembering the outcome and avoiding similar mistakes in the future really helped me grow into the designer and Solid edge user I am today.

    I believe self passed training is a great tool to help users begin to learn this principal.  By navigating a tutorial or book and following along it is always inevitable that a step is missed or some setting be set wrong; These little nuances will begin to create this mentality of “Don’t freak out, Work thru the problem, Stay focused on your design intents”  I know some will challenge this by saying “that’s just it; a good CAD tool should not get in the way of my design intent”  But my argument returns to the point as stated earlier..  This is what separates the advanced users…  Just one man opinion..  YMMV. 

    I’m interested in general thoughts and feedback into my POV on this. That there is also an underlying mentality that goes along with training in separating users from advanced users.  Thoughts???

    1. I agree for the most part. When I was working my way through the tutorials, I would go straight through the first time, following the directions. Then I would go back and try to bend the rules. I was actively trying to find where the boundaries of capabilities were. I constantly broke things, then fixed them, but that’s how I learned.

      I agree that people who expect it all to work perfectly and be handed to them on a platter are probably not cut out for this kind of work.

  4. Hi Matt –

    I want to provide you with a few websites that do a nice job covering different training options.

    Many of our Channel Partners who sell Solid Edge offer paid training but one free option comes from AllyPLM who does “Lunch Bytes.” These are live, free, monthly mentoring sessions on different topics. All of their sessions are posted to Youtube or available on their site above. On Twitter: @AllyPLM This site is managed by Ingenea Limited out of the UK and focuses on “Resources for Education.” Aurthur Sexton and team do a great job of providing different levels of membership that fits student and educator’s needs. You can also see loads of videos on their YouTube channel:
    On Twitter: @Solidmastermind

    A couple years ago the Solid Edge team started Solid Edge Tips & Tricks from the Experts series on YouTube and the SiemensPLM Blog. We have several videos on Youtube with short, useful tricks on using the software.

    As a reminder – there will be a vast amount of learning and education at Solid Edge University June 11-14 in Nashville, TN. At this event you will be able to meet many members of the Solid Edge community, who are another great resource and always happy to help anyone learn Solid Edge.

    I hope these sites provide useful in your journey to learn Solid Edge.

    1. Hi Matt,
      I can also vouch for solid mastermind. I have been using this as a resource for a few years now. Great videos.

      1. Another vote for Solid Mastermind here, excellent resource that helped me enormously when I started with SE a few years back

  5. Hey Matt,

    your comment “I can tell you that the copy was poorly done and did not capture some of the best aspects of the Solid Edge implementation. Solid Edge Command Finder not only lists the results of the command search, but also highlights the locations of the item in the interface.” suggests that the SolidWorks search tool doesn’t show the command location… I find that rather surprising as the SolidWorks tool does has this capability… see the image attached/below.

    Does the SE tool also give users the capabilities to search through Help, Knowledge Base, Forums, Commands and Files/Models all from the one location? See below/attached for an illustration of SolidWorks allowing you to do so!

    Like Neil has stated, users are after genuine information not a glossy sales pitch!

    1. Yeah, it does. Thanks for pointing that out.

      1. Wow, with all of your statements of late about SolidWorks and its development these last few years it makes me wonder whether you’ve spent as much time looking over the changes as you have criticising them!

        So if this was a mistake then how do you justify comments like “The Solid Edge help appears to be more useful than the SW variety has been” and “the copy was poorly done and did not capture some of the best aspects of the Solid Edge implementation“? ‘Appears’ seems to be the operative word here… it’s the lack of substance that concerns me… if you’re going to make generalised statements at least back them up with some hard evidence.

        By all accounts it looks (I don’t have SE to confirm) as though the SolidWorks command search tool has the same functionality as SE, and then some! This then begs the question, what about all of the other areas you don’t mention… is this the same for tutorials, help documentation, forum?

        For once Neil and I agree, if you’re going to use this blog as a means of comparing SE and SW then sales guff like this post is going to simply lead a lot of people astray… and as he said elsewhere “Moving over to SE would be a significant undertaking“.

        Finally with comments like “Solid Edge is paying for the work going into researching and writing this” and “The research involved in writing this blog… will result in a white paper being written on the subject” I can’t help but think back to the Technicom reports we saw a little while ago which you yourself described as a “debacle“.

        I suppose though you see it differently. As pointed out on your other blog by a reader, you yourself have made comments like “Advertising a product means that you are beholden to that company for cash or other rewards – you have in essence sold your right of free expression about that product.” and “I stand by my comments about advertising biasing your point of view. If they aren’t true, then why do you have advertising at all? People distrust or at least are cynical about things written by people who are paid by advertisement, period.” That didn’t stop you implementing advertising though did it!

        1. Matthew, I’m investigating other software because I’m curious. Certainly there is no harm in broadening your perspective.

          Admitting mistakes isn’t a problem since I make no claims of being perfect. I’m being open about the payment because I believe in being up front. I couldn’t take the time to write articles about exploring new software without getting something to help pay the bills. Everyone has a point of view, and it’s only fair to state what yours is.

          Tone down the attack, and join the discussion if you like.

          1. No offence Matt but if Matthew is just here to be a SW turd I would rather he didnt join in. People were enjoying being optimistic for a change.  I’m just not interested in having SW riding on the coat tails of this blog for their counter marketing purposes.

          2. Neil, this is not Matthew West from SolidWorks. It’s a guy from Australia. He has been on Dezignstuff a few times. He’d be welcome if he could keep it in his pants, but he seems to be having some trouble with that.

  6. Sour grapes Matthew? You know it probably doesnt help SW to make posts like this. Dassault made their choice and now customers are looking somewhere else. If there is any lack of substance to be concerned about it would be to do with recent SW releases or its top secret replacement.

    People are interested to find out what SE has to offer. We asked specifically for Matt to do some objective reporting for us. I think Matt will do ok. If you want to post about SW you would probably be better to write an article for the SW blog or post comments in Matts other blog for SW.

  7. Hi Matt,

    I just installed solid edge V20.  I used the tutorial section to learn the first lesson.

    But when I open “view all Tutorial..”, the tutorial window open, but there is no Tutorial toolbar, so that I can not keep continue by using toolbar to go next section of the lesson.

    Why does tutorial toolbar disappeared?

    Please help

    1. Ken

      Make sur you also install the latest service pack for V20

  8. I am following the tutorials I find on Solid Edge well enough, however, I downloaded a student version of Solid edge and I get a white screen instead of a grey screen and I’m sort of working in 2D and 3D as the drawings are in an outline format when I try to work in 3D.  (An extruded cirlce is two circles with a double ended arrow in between.)  The axis does not have arrows, just X, Y, Z but I can find the centre of it when I touch the X, Y or Z.  Any ideas, maybe I need to install it again?

    1. Maybe graphics card related? What graphics card do you have? If you go into Solid Edge Options > Display — what is Application Display set to?

    2. Please post a screen capture of a Jing link

  9. Hi Matt

    I haven’t used Solid Edge, I am looking for a single programme that will do Piping, structural steel and steel fabrications. AutoCad / Plant 3D hasn’t really met our needs. Do you think Solid edge is good in these areas?

    1. I’ve used some of those things in Solid Edge, but I’m not an expert. They are definitely usable. You can download a 45 day trial and go through some of the tutorials. They do have tutorials on piping, I think. You might also contact a reseller to get a demo of some of the specialized functionality you’d be looking for. If you get a look at it and form an impression, be sure to stop back here and report on what you think.

    2. Don,

      For basic piping SE has Xpress route, combine with the Standard Part catalog which can be personalize.

      If you’re looking for a more traditional package for plant design and you need to define/drive pipe specs look here.

      Smap 3D




      For structural, Solid Edge has Frame design here a link to a PDF

      And for steel fabrication ( do you have plate work in mind?) if yes then definitely you can find your way using multiple workflow and design strategy.

      Look for Siemens VAI, not sure at 100% but I believe they do use Solid Edge for Plant design or section of plant design

      Hope this info will help

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