There are 3,154 SolidWorks Certified Experts in the world. Two of them have attended Miami Lakes Educational Center.
Sebastian Salas was the first, at age 17, after two certification attempts. Jason Ledon, accomplished expert status at 16 — on his first try — making him the youngest SolidWorks Certified Expert in the world, his school advisor has been told.
“It all started in ninth grade when I discovered I had a passion for engineering,” Jason said. “When I was introduced to SolidWorks I realized how powerful the program was and how much I enjoyed designing things with it. Because of that, I was motivated to start studying, and I enjoyed it, too.”
While several teenagers find themselves unsure of what career to pursue, Jason, an officer of his school’s robotics club, has worked two years to attain the highest level of mastery in one of the most complex solid modeling computer-aided drafting (CAD) programs, known as SolidWorks.
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Although the registration to take the expert certification test does not ask an applicant’s age, SolidWorks sources have told Jason’s school advisor, engineering instructor Paul Kynerd, that he is most likely the youngest certified expert in the world.
“The SolidWorks Expert Certification test is extremely rigorous and covers a variety of different areas, requiring 4 prerequisites before taking,” Kynerd said. “So few people are actually able to accomplish this, so this definitely boosts his potential for employment, internships, and being a grad assistant at a university.”
In order to take the expert exam, one must complete the Certified SolidWorks Associate (CSWA) exam, the Certified SolidWorks Professional (CSWP) exam as well as successfully pass at least four of the CSWP advanced topic exams including sheet metal, weldments, surfacing, mold tools, and drawing tools.
“I was interested in the program because it allows you to create 3D models, which sparked my interest in 3D printing, causing me to eventually acquire my own 3D printer so I can design and physically create at home.” Jason said.
Following his passing of the CSWA his freshman year of high school, Jason accomplished his professional certification at the beginning of his sophomore year. It was then that he realized the expert certification was a tangible goal.
Taking the exam over the summer, Jason was contacted directly by SolidWorks after the completion of his four Certified SolidWorks Specialty Exams, to evaluate the company’s prototype beta test for an update to a certification exam. As a reward for doing so, Jason was granted a voucher in order to take the expert exam.
“The SolidWorks expert exam is interesting because if you fail it, you can not take it for another six months, so this weeds out the people who are not actually serious about this,” Kynerd said. “Jason, however, was.”
Jason described exam preparation as “nerve-wracking.”
“I was mostly scared of failing than having to wait another six months,” Jason said. “But when I passed I felt so relieved; now that I have the background with this program, I feel like I have an advantage in the engineering industry.”
Jason’s accomplishment has earned him the praise of teachers and classmates alike.
“This came as no surprise to any of us on the Cambridge Academy” at Miami Lakes Educational Center, said Neyda Borges, Jason’s former English teacher. “Jason is an excellent and dedicated student.”
Kynerd described Jason as “very focused.”
“I think he’s going to get far. If he keeps everything else up, he should be able to go wherever he wants after high school,” Kynerd said. “I think he will turn down more places than be turned down if he keeps working with this level of rigor.”
Jason’s dedication to engineering wasn’t only a passion he took with him inside the engineering lab, but one he brought home with him, spending hours on end studying, designing, creating.
“Jason is the type of kid to put 110 percent effort into whatever he does,” said his mother, Michele Ledon.
With seven certifications in hand, Jason carries with him the aspirations of a continued career in the fields of engineering or STEM.
“I hope to someday work for a material engineering firm and being able to decide what the most beneficial material is to get a job done,” Jason said. “I also hope to be able to attend Georgia Institute of Technology in two years in order to pursue my career and dreams.”