When Design, Engineering and Art Come Together Magic Happens


My first meeting with a Dassault Systèmes representative was in my office in Irving, Texas. The previous year, I had taken on the leadership of the global Engineering Systems team for an industrial company, responsible for over 200 applications used by 2,500 engineers. <span data-cmtooltip='Visit Solidworks‘ class=”glossaryLink”>SOLIDWORKS was an essential tool for one of the four engineering teams. I had several challenges facing me – no central management for training or maintenance, and scattered licenses, some of which had expired.

I was pleasantly surprised that the focus of this first meeting with our <span data-cmtooltip='Visit Solidworks‘ class=”glossaryLink”>SOLIDWORKS global sales representative was on getting to know me and understanding my hottest issues rather than on sales. Focusing on their customers’ user communities turned out not to be an exception but in Dassault Systèmes’ DNA. A year later, when the hot issues were solved, and it was time for me to retire, I made sure that I kept the strong friendships alive. I focused on becoming a professional oil painter, one of my dreams for post-retirement bliss.

A thought occurred to me that Dassault Systèmes could benefit from balancing its engineering strength with creative art. I was now on an artistic journey, but there were strong parallels and lessons to learn from my time supporting engineers. The importance of discipline, the focus on life-long learning, and collaborating with experts to address challenges were reusable approaches. Unbeknownst to me, Dassault Systèmes’ leadership was well along in pushing their connection to artistic dimensions, with multiple examples of stunning, original designs already in hand. Thus, my unsolicited proposal to create a painting to celebrate this artistic creativity and innovation arrived at a perfect time.

The early discussions between Dassault Systèmes and myself swirled around potential projects with two themes – helping humanity and creative, stimulating designs. When I learned about the Magic Wheelchair project, I was thrilled with the possibilities. Innovative engineering, putting a smile on the face of children requiring wheelchairs for mobility, and a volunteer team behind each build. Photographers had captured over 1000 pictures of each stage of the most current project: concept, design, build, validate, and finally presenting to the child. As a painter, I had almost unlimited resources to pull a composition together.

Ah, but there’s the challenge. How could I depict all the stages of development and the penultimate reveal and presentation all on a 2D piece of linen? And, capture even a slice of the energy I found with each person I talked to about the project? I started work in my studio on my composition using a structured approach very similar to design engineering, with rapid iterations and a willingness to quickly toss ideas that didn’t work. I benefited by enjoying ten days of vacation in the company of artist Georgia Amar. Her dark basement proved perfect for trying out different options quickly using my computer and a projector on a used canvas she contributed to the project. I solved which perspective to use for this indoor scene by modeling three different possibilities, and I blew the front wall off the 3DEXPERIENCE Lab to show the dynamic magic wheelchair escaping.

With the composition, perspective, and recognizable people firmed up, I put away the drawing pencils, paper, used canvas and erasers, and brought out the oil paints. After

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