Introducing Andrew Lowe – Winner of the 2011 Rocket Design Competition

Article by Alin Vargatu, CSWE updated December 1, 2011


Beside being an young but accomplished industrial designer, Andrew is also the author of a very interesting and useful article posted yesterday on our blog. If you need to model a real part and the only scanner you have is a regular digital camera, you better find out how to prepare pictures of real parts or hand drawn sketches as input for SolidWorks 3D models.

Andrew in action

Andrew received a Bachelor of Industrial Design in April 2011 from Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario. He specializes in computer-aided design, manufacturing technologies, model making and graphics. He is also interested in ergonomics, marketing, psychology, perception, innovation, sustainability and the nature of work. Andrew is a competent machinist, having manufactured from scratch a cast aluminum wheelchair for his final design thesis. His design work focuses on minimalism, with an emphasis on materials and distinct lack of decoration.

You can access Andrew’s online portfolio at

When he sent us the article, he also agreed to tell our readers a few things about his background as a designer in general and a SolidWorks user in particular. Here is the full interview:

Question:  When (and why) did you decide you will be a designer? Any particular event that made a difference?

Answer: I think my interest in design started at a young age; I grew up constantly playing with LEGO bricks. Constant tinkering and model building helped to develop my design sensibilities. I thought about going into engineering for a while, but the hands on creative nature of industrial design won me over.

Question:   This year you won the Rocket Award for Best in Show at the 2011 Rocket Design Competition with the CrossTrainer Wheelchair. Please describe the creation process for this product from the designer perspective. Have you used SolidWorks at any stage in this process?

Answer: This project started out with extensive research into adaptive sports and technologies. I was lucky to be parternerd with the Canadian Paralympics committee which was a valuable resource. After immersing myself in adaptive sports, I started to conceptualize ideas for products that could help those with disabilities. It became evident that many wheelchairs had common parts, and that it would be possible to design a chair that could convert between different uses. At this step I used Rhinoceros to quickly flesh out design concepts and test for feasibility. After a final design had been worked out, I used SolidWorks to design many of the mechanical parts, and also to generate technical drawings that were invaluable when hand machining various parts. I also learnt and used SolidWorks Simulation FEA to determine if the structure of my chair was sound.

Question: In your virtual 3D Modeling you are using surface tools a lot. What I find interesting is that you found a way to take the best tools from different CAD systems and make them work together. Can you describe a typical workflow employing multiple modelers? When do you use SolidWorks in this process?

Answer: I have been using Rhinoceros 3D for several years now, and I find it excellent for generating consistent class A surfaces. Rhino has support for up to G4 surfaces built into many of its tools, which is invaluable in product development. I will use Rhino for conceptualization, as it can be very quick to quickly mock up CAD models. I will then refine these models into the final product design.
At this point I will import the rhino surfaces into SolidWorks to begin internal mechanical development (ribs, boss, snap fits, etc). The power of assemblies cannot be understated when developing complex products.

Question: Which is your favorite Surfacing tool or technique you use in SolidWorks?

Answer: The boundary surface. It is my go to surface, for its ability to create curvature continuous patches between existing geometry. The curvature combs are useful in modifying the tangency length to develop smooth blends.

Question: What is your number one Enhancement Request for SolidWorks surfacing?

Answer: Add functionality for G3 surface blends built into the software and more ability to modify NURBS control points.

Question: You are a Surfacing Wizard, yet you took a SolidWorks Surface Modeling course at Javelin. Why? Was it worth it?

Answer: Javelin was kind enough to donate training courses as part of the grand prize for the ACIDO Rocket Competition. While I was extremely confident in my rhino surfacing, I want to learn all the ins and outs of surface in SolidWorks. The course was definitely worthwhile for someone looking to advance their SolidWorks surfacing knowledge.

Question: Tell us a bit about your actual experience in the Javelin class

Answer: The instructor was excellent, and was really key in getting the most of the course. I don’t think I would have learnt nearly as much if they weren’t able to answer all of my SolidWorks surfacing questions. The cherry on the cake was the offer to take the CSWP Surfacing exam free of charge on the spot, in the Javelin lab, at the end of the course. This was a great way to cap off the course.

Question: … and of course… you passed.

Answer: Of course!



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Alin Vargatu, CSWE

Alin is a SOLIDWORKS Elite Applications Engineer and an avid contributor to the SOLIDWORKS Community. Alin has presented multiple times at SOLIDWORKS World, Technical Summits, and User Group Meetings, while being very active on the SOLIDWORKS Forum.