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COFES 2009

April 26, 2009

Filed under: CAD/CAM/CAE,event,review — Terry Wohlers @ 09:37

I attended the 10th annual COFES event about a week ago in Scottsdale, Arizona. (COFES stands for the Congress on the Future of Engineering Software.) I enjoy attending because of the extraordinary mix of people who are there. Roughly half are managers and executives from the major CAD/PLM companies, including the “big four.” The other half are prominent consultants, analysts, and individuals from user companies, such as Boeing, Nike, and Parker Hannifin.

Unlike many industry events, COFES provides a very informal atmosphere (no coats or ties) and the meetings and sessions encourage a lot of open sharing. A popular format is the analyst briefing. Multiple briefings are held in parallel in the main living area of hotel suites and technical experts serve as hosts. The hosts open with comments focused on the subject of the briefing and then others jump in. Most of the people in attendance at COFES are outspoken and truly have something to say and share. I’ve found that it doesn’t take a lot to get a lively and interesting discussion going.

Keynote presentations are held two of the mornings and are often a thought-provoking and inspirational part of COFES. Consultants Joel Orr and Peter Marks, staples of the event, gave moving keynotes this year. I’ve heard Joel speak for more than 25 years and my jaw drops whenever I hear him. Peter also gave an outstanding presentation—it had to have been one of his best.

The informal meetings and chats are what makes COFES special and motivates me to attend. For example, I bumped into Mike Riddle of Evolution Computing, who showed me some interesting software that he’s been developing over the past eight years. Mike is known for developing the prototype that led to the first version of AutoCAD. I also had an intriguing conversation with Ping Fu, CEO of Geomagic and Inc. magazine’s Entrepreneur of the Year in 2005. She shared with me ideas for two humanitarian projects that she’d like to pursue in the future. Both could have a dramatic and lasting impact.

I had conversations with other interesting individuals, such as Jon Hirschtick, founder of SolidWorks (and enthusiastic supporter of 3D printing) and Mike Ray, CEO of SolidWorks. I had meetings with Robert “Buzz” Kross, senior vice president of Manufacturing Solutions at Autodesk, and Brenda Discher, vice president of Industry Marketing within the Manufacturing Industry Group at Autodesk. As always, I enjoyed bumping into and talking with Bob McNeel of Robert McNeel & Associates. He and his company are responsible for the popular Rhino software.

COFES lands at the busiest time of year for me, yet I enjoy the opportunity of attending. If you want to “rub elbows” with many of the best minds in the CAD/PLM industry, I highly recommend that you attend this fine event. Kudos to Brad Holtz of Cyon Research Corp., the organizer of COFES, for delivering year after year.