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Improve Your Homebuilding Skills at AirVenture With SOLIDWORKS

By Randy Dufault

July 21, 2018 - Since 2016, all EAA members can access and use Dassault Systèmes SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD software to help with the design, building, and enhancement of experimental aircraft components and, quite possibly, entire airplanes.

“SOLIDWORKS is the industry standard for computer-aided design. Aircraft and kit manufacturers from Cirrus to Zenith are designing today’s aircraft in SOLIDWORKS, and now EAA members [have] access to this powerful tool,” said EAA CEO and Chairman of the Board Jack J. Pelton at the time of the original announcement.

However, one of the challenges with any complex piece of software is learning how to use it.

According to EAA Membership Development Manager Cory Purri, now is the time to take the next step of making SOLIDWORKS an effective part of experimental aviation. Toward that goal, Cory and a team of dedicated volunteers are introducing SOLIDWORKS University here at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2018.

Members at the convention can register for one of 400 one-hour time slots available at the SOLIDWORKS lab inside the Pilot Proficiency Center (one of the EAA Four Corners). Registration is available online at as well as at the GSC desk in the museum lobby, inside the Homebuilders Hangar, and at the EAA Member Center, one of the other Four Corners.

Cory wants to remind members to make sure they write down the date and time of the reservation. Approximately 200 openings are still available as of press time.

Members with little or no experience using SOLIDWORKS should attend a session during the first two hours of each day. Those are instructor-led and provide a good introduction into the basics of 3D CAD software and basic operation of SOLIDWORKS.

Sessions over the balance of the day are open labs. Available exercises include:

  • A panel layout scenario that involves placing models of instruments and electronics on a blank panel, with a goal of producing blueprints and cutting directions for the panel.
  • An airframe design scenario that involves creating a fuselage wireframe, applying pipe (tube) materials to it, transferring the design to SOLIDWORKS’ weldments module, and ultimately creating a materials list with cutting instructions.
  • An airfoil tutorial that allows import of a set of airfoil coordinates with a goal of producing rib design specifications.
  • A modification scenario that works through the design of a Van’s RV-10 exhaust fairing by importing photos of a real aircraft.

Access to all of the open lab scenarios is available after the convention on the EAA SOLIDWORKS program webpage at

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