As the new generation of professional 3D CAD, Onshape is easy to quickly pick up for anyone with a parametric modeling background. But, as with any new technology, there is a learning curve. With the aim of getting your design team in production as soon as possible, we’re now offering you a fast-forward button.

Access to Onshape’s new online Learning Center, which launches today, is free for all annual Professional Plan subscribers. This extends the tremendous value of Onshape even further – especially since similar training packages for traditional CAD vendors cost about $1,500 per engineer. On one CAD reseller pricelist I was glancing at, some courses were going for as high as $3,000 per participant.

The Onshape Learning Center is the natural extension of our popular live interactive Bootcamp, which gives customers a crash course in the similarities and differences between modeling in full-cloud CAD versus traditional file-based CAD. As company co-founder John McEleney often says, Onshape isn’t aiming to be the best cloud-based CAD, but the best 3D CAD system, period.

That means that while many of the basic fundamentals of modeling remain the same, Onshape has taken a fresh modern approach to many other things. Beyond being aware of simultaneous editing and instant CAD access on any computer, tablet or phone, new customers may not initially realize they can model multiple parts in the same Part Studio. Or that building assemblies in Onshape requires only one-third of the mating relationships typically used with traditional file-based CAD systems. Or that using Onshape’s comprehensive Edit History allows you to restore a design back to any prior stage and explore alternative branches.

I could go on and on…

Customers have repeatedly told us that our live Bootcamp makes them confident they are taking full advantage of all Onshape’s benefits. Many of these customers are longtime CAD veterans, but just needed a quick tour of features and workflows they didn’t know existed. I look at it like visiting a new city. Some travelers may dismiss those double-decker tourist busses as “too touristy,” but the flip side is you can get a quick overview of available attractions and then decide what you want to fully explore later.

The Learning Center provides a more in-depth look at the topics covered in the live Bootcamp, providing additional practice exercises for CAD professionals to complete at their own pace. It also presents an alternative onboarding option for companies which need a more flexible training schedule.

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The online Onshape Learning Center is included free with all annual Professional Plan subscriptions.

How to Get Started

Onshape customers can start their training by clicking on a Learning Pathway, a set of short, introductory courses. The first two Learning Pathways are:

  1. Onshape Fundamentals: CAD – These courses focus on CAD functionality with an emphasis on the differences between 3D modeling in Onshape versus traditional desktop-installed CAD systems. Topics include: Onshape Documents, sketching, simultaneous editing, modeling parts in Part Studios, creating assemblies with Onshape’s high-level mates, and detailing production-ready 2D drawings.
  2. Onshape Fundamentals: Data Management – These courses focus on Onshape’s unique approach to managing CAD data in the cloud, including: Document organization tools, import and export options, sharing Documents with collaborators, using Document Edit History and version control, branching and merging workspaces, and best practices for using Linked Documents.

One thing I can’t stress enough is that these courses do not teach basic CAD skills and are aimed at professionals with a background in parametric modeling. It would be foolhardy to suggest that you could teach anyone – no matter how smart – CAD in eight hours (the length of Bootcamp). If that were the case, engineering schools would go out of business!

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LEARN BY DOING – One of the biggest differences between Onshape’s live Bootcamp and the new online Learning Center courses are practice exercises you can complete (and repeat) at your own pace.

The Benefits of Online Learning

Everyone has different learning styles and Onshape’s new Learning Center is meant to serve those who enjoy the approach of eLearning, sometimes called distance learning – popularized by companies such as and Khan Academy, as well as the free edX academic courses offered by MIT, Harvard and other top universities. In fact, entrepreneurial CAD instructors already have paid Onshape training offerings at Lynda and Pluralsight – we wish them success as well!

Onshape’s Learning Center features a Training Dashboard where customers can save their place in the middle of a lesson and can track which courses they have completed so far:

training dashboard

Upon finishing each Learning Pathway, participants will receive a completion certificate. Using eLearning is the most cost-efficient way for companies to quickly get up to speed with full-cloud CAD – especially with design teams spread out across multiple locations. There’s no need to fly to another city for a week, book hotel rooms and rental cars and sit in a conference room for eight hours a day – all of which are typical prerequisites for some kinds of traditional CAD training.

Ultimately, the purpose of the Learning Center is to help make our customers more successful, faster. Based on your feedback, we’ll be adding additional courses in the future, addressing advanced topics like Simultaneous Sheet Metal tools and whichever other topics interest you the most. Your priorities are our priorities.

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Onshape Learning Center