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Autodesk University 2018 Recap

This year, Matt Sweeney, P.E., our Production Technology | Innovation Manager, attended Autodesk University in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Read his recap and takeaways from the conference below:

Autodesk University, held annually in the Fall, is an exciting, sometimes overwhelming, and exhausting week. This year I was fortunate enough to get out to the conference early for one of the pre-conference workshops which meant my AU experience was a full four days. This was my second trip to the massive conference and as I look back it was a better overall experience than my first trip.

This year I went out there with a few objectives and was largely able to pick my classes based on those goals. I also combed through the speakers for the classes with a little more scrutiny than I did previously which I think made a big difference. So, all and all my class/session experience was a little bit better than previous years.

The pre-conference workshop that I chose to attend was focused on Computational BIM and I went with the developer track as I’ve seen many “basic” presentations previously. I was a little nervous heading into the session as I’m not actually a developer.  But I do have some very basic coding experience and I’m fairly well versed in using Dynamo without of the box nodes. It turned out the nervousness was unfounded, and my background was more than enough to get all the concepts presented. We worked on creating a custom user interface for the newly enabled extensions for Dynamo. These tools are nice and add a lot of functionality to Dynamo that is going to start making it a lot more user friendly. It also provided me with ideas of how to make some of our custom Revit tools a little easier to access. Accessibility and ease of use seem to be one of the biggest hurdles in implementing some of these custom workflows.  

My main learning objective this year was primarily focused around how to better implement custom tools and automation processes throughout PES. I had that broken out a little bit more into Dynamo, Custom Revit Plug ins, customizing Dynamo, and culture of computational design. My other two minor objectives were focused around the IT side of things and data usage/collection however I didn’t get to see as many of these types of classes live as I would have liked. I did get into one or two and Autodesk does a really good job of making the information for the classes available online after the conference, so I’ll download a few of those and review as I can.

One of my strategies for conferences like this is to take a lot of my notes by hand in a notebook, that way I can doodle how I want, make notes all over the place, etc. Then after the conference I take that notebook and convert those notes into MS OneNote for dissemination to others throughout PES and for general organization purposes as well. This also gives me a time to think back through the classes and reiterate the main points that I wanted to take away from the class. As I’ve started this for this year’s conference, I’m already getting a list together of things I want to get implemented by this time next year.

The other thing about this conference that is exciting is that you’re generally surrounded by other people who are trying to do a lot of the same things that you are. There are so many opportunities to learn from not only the presenters but also the people sitting around you. Having the chance for some good face to face interactions with other people in similar situations where the common boundaries don’t seem to matter is priceless.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the big party that Autodesk treats us with during the conference. This year we walked over to the Linq Promenade from the hotel. We were able to ride the “High Roller” the world’s tallest observation wheel, visit multiple restaurants, enjoy a few different bands, and DJs, along with great food and drinks. It was a Vegas level party that was a great break amid what was a jam-packed week.

Autodesk University, combined with the pre-conference event, made for a long four days that provides so much information that you need a few more days to decompress once it’s over. That said, I’m really looking forward to getting some of these things implemented throughout the company.