This month, Desktop Engineering (DE) celebrates its 15th anniversary, with a special print issue featuring articles that reflect on where the industry has been, where it is now, and where it may be heading. In 1995, when DE editors were perfecting the layout of its premiere issue, SolidWorks, an upstart at the time, was also gearing up for the release of its first version. Last week, I turned to SolidWorks CEO Jeff Ray to gather his reflections on the past 15 years.
“There was great engineering software, but it was very hard to use,” he recalled, looking at the landscape in 1995, “and it wasn’t available to everyone, because it was using hardware and software systems only available to big companies, [who can afford] the financial, HR, and technical resources to back it up … Windows really democratized technology and put it in the hands of those who had ever had it before.”
At the present, he believes, “We’re on the cusp of another platform change with online computing … It’s powerful because it removes barriers we don’t even know we have today. We’re so used to dealing with the limitations of desktop software that we just take them for granted and treat them like the laws of physics–as immovable as the laws of gravity.”
I asked Ray to imagine the headlines we’ll probably see in a future issue of DE, say December 2025. “A group of high school students has safely launched and returned a manned vehicle to Mars,” he suggested.
He takes pride in his customers’ success, including Schramm and Center Rock, both responsible for designing and delivering some of the pivotal equipment needed to free the trapped miners in Chile. “Our customers are the real unsung heroes of this business,” he said.
For the complete interview, listen to the podcast below: