Tim Olson is the founder and developer of the ViaCAD and Shark line of CAD design products. Tim founded CADSoft Solutions in 1994 and created the first version of ViaCAD. Tim's company, Evolution Software, currently supports and develops the ViaCAD and Shark products in partnership with Encore Software.
1. What was your inspiration for creating ViaCAD and Shark?
2. What were your goals with the most recent release?
Our goal was to improve productivity, quality, and user experience. This was accomplished by addressing issues in the areas of usability, 2D design & drafting, 3D design, interoperability, visualization, and performance.
3. What’s the biggest surprise or reward from creating the software?
Growing up I was inspired by the Apollo missions and wanted to work for NASA. I ultimately turned down a job at NASA to work for Lockheed’s Advanced Design team responsible for developing a CAD system for next generation air vehicles. I was thrilled when an early version of PunchCAD was used for the conceptual design of SpaceShipOne, the first private space vehicle in history. I find great reward in seeing how others use the software.
4. Where do you see CAD software and 3D design going in the future?
Usability, performance, and reliability are continued evolutionary areas of CAD. Revolutionary areas in CAD could involve merging CAD with AI and VR. My daughter recently interned with IBM, working on the Watson AI project. It stunned me with how far “assisted" technology has come. Likewise, my grade school son was introduced to VR at a local university and bubbled with excitement on how intuitive 3D becomes within a virtual environment. Imagine having an expert engineer assisting our ideas, tested within a virtual environment. The next generation of CAD could break down existing barriers and serve as a catalyst for innovation.
5. What is a piece of advice you’d like to impart on an aspiring designer?
Many of the old barriers to CAD are gone. Download a trial of a low-cost 3D CAD system and start exploring. Join a user forum for help and advice. I find people in forums extremely helpful and knowledgeable especially for beginners. Once you get up to speed, create a simple part and have a physical part made from a 3D printer bureau. There is nothing more rewarding than going from a concept to holding a physical model!