As a pioneer in life-support equipment for military defense forces, Gentex is tasked with delivering sure-fire helmet systems and capability upgrades for respiration, sight, hearing, and communication in accelerated timelines. Multiple engineering teams, across multiple locations, are creating a multitude of life-support products. For Gentex to continue its history of innovation and quality, each team needs training for a variety of concepts, techniques, and software on a frequent basis.
Historically, training at Gentex was prompted by a need to achieve critical business objectives. Aaron Godwin supervises Gentex’s CAD and document control team in Rancho Cucamonga, CA and is responsible for making decisions for training purchases. A major aspect of Godwin’s job is to pinpoint the learning needs of each individual engineering team and evaluate which resources provide the comprehensive training they need within a reasonable price range.
When Godwin found SolidProfessor, he had been tasked with decreasing time-to-market for their pilot respirators and oxygen masks. The current know-how across the various teams prevented them from decreasing time-to-market to the extent the industry and his bosses required. “To improve our skills,” says Godwin, “we needed to invest in training and make the act of training a regular occurrence, not an occasional event.”
Gentex had two options; pay for traditional classroom training, or find an on-demand resource. After researching their needs and possible training options, Godwin and his managers concluded that their conventional method of training was not practical considering the current speed of innovation and the difficulty of standardizing training across teams in many regions.
“To improve and maintain the proficiency of our engineering department, we would have needed to send everyone to a week-long training every 3 months,” recalled Godwin. “I couldn’t afford to take multiple locations offline for that amount of time. We implemented SolidProfessor because it was apparent that employee productivity and concept retention would increase with an on-demand training resource. And the cost we’re paying for SolidProfessor is significantly less than what we would have paid to send everyone to training.”
SolidProfessor was first introduced to Godwin’s engineering team in Rancho Cucamonga, CA, and later to the equivalent teams in Carbondale, PA, and Boston, MA. “Implementation was seamless and our employees saw the value of the platform straight away. Everyone was seriously engaging with the lessons and tests a week after onboarding.”
Team members are added to specific groups based on location and learning requirements. Say, for example, an employee is struggling to communicate the functional intent of their designs to manufacturing. They’ll be added to a group where they can learn the fundamentals of GD&T and common GD&T symbols. Godwin’s team in Rancho Cucamonga is specifically focused on honing their Surfacing skills, unlike the other locations. New Gentex hires that are unfamiliar with SOLIDWORKS join a “new to SOLIDWORKS” group so that they can become proficient in the software.
With SolidProfessor, Aaron’s teams are saving valuable hours of productivity and in turn, increasing efficiency. Employees are training when work is handed off and projects are transitioning to other teams. Some employees build training into their weekly schedules. “Our engineers run into issues and say, ‘Oh, SolidProfessor taught me how to fix this!’” says Godwin.
Through SolidProfessor, every engineering employee at Gentex’s Rancho Cucamonga location is now SOLIDWORKS Certified and the teams in other locations are working towards that too. “The learning paths that SolidProfessor provides to prepare for the exam were crucial to our success,” says Godwin. “Certification increased our management team’s confidence in our command of SOLIDWORKS because they know we’ve gone through rigorous training and testing and dedicated time to improving our skills. It’s gotten to the point where our boss is bragging about our certifications. He tells the other managers ‘I have a whole team of certified engineers and you have none.’”
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