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Autodesk University 2015

Autodesk University Las Vegas is quickly approaching.

“Join more than 10,000 design, engineering, and manufacturing professionals at Autodesk University Las Vegas—the world’s largest gathering of Autodesk software users.”

This will be my 5th AU, and every year I seem to always pick up some new tricks, meet some great people, and have a very enjoyable time. If I had to pick just two things that I’ve gotten out of AU over the past years has to be the networking (the people I’ve met) and getting inspired (I always arrive back in the office pumped).

McCord Hall Arizona State University

Kevin Dooley McCord Hall, Arizona State University

For the Autodesk University Rookie

A must for you AU rookies is checking out Paul Munford’s (aka the CADSetterOut) AU Rookie Guide. This guide is chocked full of useful tips. The one tip I really wished I had known my first year of attending was staying hydrated. The first day I came down with the biggest headache I’ve ever had in my life.

My other suggestion for first timers is to talk to as many people as you possibly can. Everyone is there for the same reason and everyone is ready to talk about technology, or as my wife puts it “CAD Geek Talk“. It doesn’t matter if you are in the same industry, trust me in that you’ll find things to share.

Behind the Music

Jesus Solana Floating Sounds

Floating Sounds by Jesus Solana

PL9954 – Behind the Music (Stories from Vault Users) This is my 5th year of attending AU and my 4th year presenting. This year I am very fortunate to co-present with two other fine gentlemen as we discuss our paths to successfully implementing Autodesk Vault. If you are just beginning your path to Vault, this is a must attend class.

Learn from 3 users about the trials and tribulations, the hardships, and the journeys it took for them to successfully implement Vault software. This class will examine the compelling stories of the successes, tragedies, and triumphs of the companies in their implementation. We will highlight 3 sizes of Vault software implementations—small, medium, and large. Once each story is told, the panel will be set up for questions and answers.

Class Suggestions

Whether this is your first year or not, here are a few classes worth attending (especially if you are in the manufacturing realm like me).

Paul Munford’s CP10847 – Complex Topology and Class-A Surface Modeling with Inventor is one for Inventor users who (just occasionally!) find themselves ready to create a complex model and don’t know where to start. Paul is a rockstar when it comes to Inventor surfacing

Sualp Ozel (and others) IM10376 – Let’s Get It Started! An in-depth kick-off to the FEA with Nastran Power Track. I’ve known Sualp for quite a number of years and he’s never let me down when it comes to presenting FEA. I’m not new to FEA but new to Nastran, so this class is high on my list

My Behind the Music co-presenter Chris Benner is leading the presentation in XI10614 – The Power of the Autodesk Community, which will showcase the power of the Autodesk Community.

Regardless of the version of Vault you are using or your expertise, PL10593 – Data Management Avengers III will be good to check out. Lead by Autodesk, the past two Data Management Avengers have been organized chaos, but the dialog and conversations have been phenomenal. It is always good to not feel alone and this class presents the opportunity to be with others who are experiencing the same wins, losses, and worries you are probably experiencing with Vault.

See You There!

If you are attending Autodesk University this year (and you obviously read Design & Motion) track me down… let’s connect! Attend my class or send me a message on the AU App.

Education and Inspiring Design Innovation at AU2014

Innovation is a common theme at Autodesk University each year. This year the company brought together presentations and displays of some wonderful examples of the company’s involvement with outreach and enablement of young people.

Autodesk Software Free to all in Education

Chris Bradshaw, Autodesk’s Chief Marketing Officer discussed our near future population and how their needs will not be diminishing. “We need to support 10 billion people on this planet with 2 times the energy production that we have now” he remarked. Autodesk is trying to help the world solve some staggering statistical possibilities like this one and many more.

The company has taken the position that the best way to solve these problems is to enable the next generation of thinkers, and one part of that solution is to put design software in every educational institution in every part of the world for free. Their intention is to remove the barriers stopping young people from exploring new ideas and new ways of solving problems that we face every day.

Autodesk software is in use by 192 million students in 82 thousand institutions around the world.  Access to those design tools is giving these students the ability to explore new ideas that they didn’t think were possible before, including capturing and reusing energy in innovative ways.

That accessibility is being delivered to more than simply educational institutions. Chris noted that Autodesk has 218 million consumer product accounts, with 1500 new accounts being added every 10 minutes.

Chris Bradshaw Autodesk University

Project H Design

One presentation that was truly inspiring and absolutely enjoyable was Project H Design. Emily Pilloton, its founder wanted to help the world reconnect with the joy of building things. Project H Design provided an amazing way of bringing design to students, with realistic impacts and goals.

Emily Pillonton founder of Project H Design

Emily discussed various projects including a new library challenge, where students were challenging what a library should be, and capturing modular design possibilities. Autodesk CEO, Carl Bass invited the participants to Pier 9 and use some of their tools in order to complete the student’s concept design requirements.

Her presentation went beyond that to show how Project H was reaching communities, and having a much larger impact, which inspires students to continue to solve their problems locally. She went on to say that Project H was capturing the capability of students that have been underestimated.

“Project H is more amazing than I can capture here; really exciting possibilities that are being developed” she said. Emily went on to say something that I thought was absolutely paramount:

“We are responsible to provide a pathway, not just an opportunity for these students.”

She closed out the discussion by highlighting a team of young ladies performing numerous tasks including welding. I remember how amazing it was to complete my first structural airframe class, and gain that understanding of manufacturing and fabrication processes. For every bit of education you give a person, you suddenly get substantially better solutions and results. That person sees the issues in a whole new light, and are no longer afraid to tackle them.

As Emily closed her presentation, she displayed a sign that contained an inspiring statement, a motto if you will:

“I am a 10 year old girl and I can weld. What can’t I do?”

You print that on a shirt and I’ll wear it. Men’s Large.

Project H Design Students

Image courtesy of Project H Design and Emily Pillonton

Learn Connect Explore… My Autodesk University Recap (Part 2)

My flight was delayed leaving Vegas but it allowed me to finish my first post covering my AU 2014 experience. Now I’m on the airplane and since the lady beside me has so graciously offered me her fold down tray for my coffee it’s the perfect opportunity to talk about the Keynote!

Scott has already done a phenomenal job of covering the Keynote (see Autodesk University 2014 Opening Keynote Selected Quotes) so some of this might be a repeat, but here are my take aways. I must however first thank the Autodesk Expert Elite team as they secured the Expert Elite’s rows 6 & 7 in the stadium! Very good seats, here are some pictures…

Waiting to get into the stadium, where else do you have 10,000 Autodesk users all in one place?

Waiting to the AU2014 Keynote

In the stadium waiting for the show to start…

AU2014 Learn-Connect-Explore

People taking their seats for the AU2014 Keynote

Following the trend set last year there was no new software announced, too bad, I still remember when the 360 products were officially announced a few years back, really caused a buzz.

Here’s the poor imitation of Doc from Back to the Future. But the Megabot robot is very cool. I had the opportunity to talk with one of its designers in a later event and what brilliant young men are they. They certainly know their robotics. They are up to over $2-million with their crowd sourcing initiative, I’m rooting for them.

Autodesk University 2014 KeyNote Entertainment

Jeff Kowalski

CTO Jeff Kowalski was up first and for me he never disappoints as I am always impressed by his speeches. Some find his style too slow but to me its part of the overall magic, he really draws me in and gets me excited about whats coming in our world. The overall theme to his message was; What we currently design is Dead. There is no collaboration, no sensors, no reactions… it is stale and no longer adapting to its environment. We need to react to data, become dynamic, use the “cheap” sensors to collect data. He provided an example of a spoiler on a car that automatically adjusts to moist conditions, thereby increasing the car’s grip on the road.

Jeff sees this as the biggest fundamental change to our world and how we design in his 9+ years with Autodesk. The world will move from designing dead things, ceasing to work against nature, to embracing how nature designs things and design through a lens of technology using nature as the guide… designing “living” things.

“In my 9 years as the CTO at Autodesk, this is the biggest change I’ve seen.”

Jeff Kowalski Autodesk University 2014

“At Autodesk, we’re starting to look at technology and design itself through the lens of nature, a complete inversion of the traditional perspective.”

Bring Life to How We Design – Sense Respond Collaborate

A picture was shown with dozens of different styles of bird feet and he used it to describe how nature takes its best design and iterates it, designing it for the specific conditions. Nature only moves forward, Evolution is nature finding the best design for the environment. We design for obsolescence and we don’t need to be.

Next was using “supercomputing” in the cloud to auto detect and classify millions of components and their patterns. The example was finding all the gears used in your models and then finding all their interactions…. what they are, how they relate, and what they do. With this data available at your finger tips you can focus on intent and what you want to achieve. This Generative Design approach is not new but Autodesk is working at bringing it to the masses, by using the cloud and mass computing. With the gear example you would tell the computer you want a gear and pinion connection, along with a few input criteria and based on existing data it would find you the optimal combination. A real world case was the design of a hip joint that the body sees as weak bone and bone grows into it to make it strong… already happening, so smart!

“We need to stop telling the computer what to do and instead tell the computer what we want to achieve.”

Devices should talk to each other, not just send us notifications. We live in the Internet of THING, and really need a Community of Things. He talked about a “smart” city that could react to how it grew, by building its own bridges, automatically adjusting traffic flow, etc

“Collecting data, even big data, isn’t enough. We need our objects and environments to also respond. To take some kind of action based on that sensory input.”

Carl Bass

Carl Bass AU2014

In the biggest “groan” moment of the keynote Autodesk CEO Carl Bass came onto the stage to the music of “Its all about the bass”… get it? His last name is Bass… I know, really bad. (Ed: I loved it! It had me giggling away with respect that the big man had the balls to do that).

The theme to Carl’s message was Capture, Collaborate, and Create.  Basically 3D Scanning, Autodesk 360 (or A360 as they are calling it now), and 3D Printing. Oh, and it was very clear he wanted everyone on subscription. That’s it, sorry, I really didn’t take much else from it.

“I think, not since the industrial revolution has there been such a broad and radical rethinking of the way that we make things.”

Project H

Emily Pilloton, Founder & Executive Director of Project H was the “guest” speaker and closed out the keynote. From the Project H website, their mission:

“Project H uses the power of creativity, design, and hands-on building to amplify the raw brilliance of youth, transform communities, and improve K-12 public education from within.”

What she and Project H are trying to and are accomplishing is truly inspirational. Tired of the corporate world, Emily wanted to find a way to “reconnect” and give back. She started Project H to provide a forum for kids basically to learn design, to be inspired, and to gain access to things that would not normally be available. During their summer program they had 10-year old girls welding, their group designed and built garden boxes for a women’s shelter. Last year her class designed their own library and the examples go on and on.

As a father of four young daughters I’m going to start using the Project H toolbox. This open-source toolbox is “a body of lesson plans, activities, project briefs, and resources” collected over the 5-year history of Project H. I see this as a great resource to get my girls inspired, to be motivated, and hopefully open their eyes to other possibilities. Here is the Project H site.

More Things Change… My Autodesk University Recap (Part 1)

As I sit in the airport waiting for my flight home, I feel it is a good time to start digesting everything I took in at this year’s Autodesk University (AU2014). I decided early in the week that instead of blogging live I’d let things settle in after bouncing around in my head. It truly was a great event, I give my kudos to the event planners, as it went off without a hitch.

Monday (December 1)

Monday was a travel day for me but I was able to participate in the afternoon and evening events.

My first event was attending the first (hopefully of many) Vault Customer Advisory Board (CAB) meeting, organized by Kevin Robinson of Autodesk. The goal of the CAB is to provide Autodesk an avenue to bring up ideas, concepts, and other thoughts and have their customers provide direct feedback. It serves two purposes:

  • First, to get very early feedback into new concepts before Autodesk spends the time developing it. With the proper insight they hope to develop things right the first time and provide tools and workflows the customers really want..
  • Secondly, a review of existing features and processes so they understand what’s not just broken but what’s also working.

This first CAB was attended by representatives from 30 different organizations and many Autodesk personal. I should note that this was a manufacturing focused group, there was no AEC. I was required to sign a Non-disclosure so unfortunately I cannot discuss much…. I can say that they showed an early prototype and it was epic! Seriously blew my mind.  You know when something is a hit when the room initially goes quiet but quickly its filled with whispers of “did you just see that”, “I need that!” and “whoaaaa”. This happened!

There was a lot of lively discussion from everyone there but as expected we did not have the time to discuss everything on the agenda. What’s a real positive sign is that the CAB will not be a one time or even just a yearly event. Autodesk wants to take the momentum and continue it thoughout the year, online, both with the entire group and with sub-committees. We talked about workflows, lifecycles, visualization, job processor, administration, web client, tech support…. whew!. This was one of the best events I attended this year.

What’s clear is that Autodesk is not content with the status quo, the more things change in the industry is NOT the more they stay the same within Vault. They want the product to grow and remain current with the changes in the industry.

After this event was the Expert Elite Social. If you’ve never heard of the Expert Elites these are the group of Autodesk users, not employees, which spend countless hours within the Autodesk community around the internet, offering their assistance and advice. D&M are proud that all four of us have gained Expert Elite status and this social was a great place to put actual faces to the online user names. This is one smart group of people!

Tuesday (December 2)

PL5039 – Behind the Music: The Real Story Behind Deploying Autodesk PLM 360. Rob Cohee hosted two gentlemen from Behlen Building Systems who recently just implemented phase 1 of PLM 360. It was great to see an actual customers approach to both building and using PLM 360. Behlen went outside-the-box with their implementation, using a more project-centric approach opposed to the traditional workspace method.


They have now replaced 40+ custom “home-grown” applications with PLM 360. They still use JD Edwards (ERP) mostly for financial and purchasing, and MBS (Metal Building), but the rest is managed with PLM 360. PLM 360 now connects everyone, including the remote offices, electronically – in the cloud – replacing actual folders of documents… a huge time saving with the additional benefit of significantly less errors in the design and manufacture of their buildings. It has also significantly improved responsiveness to customer inquiries.

I asked about down time due to lost internet, but in the 6 or so months they have been using PLM 360 they had one instance where the internet was down for 4-hours. It did cause a bit of panic but most were able to get by using their mobile device data plans. I would think that there would be just as good of a chance that an in-house server will have issues once every 6-months causing a similar level of downtime, but with zero means to connect to it. Loss of internet connectivity is definitely a concern of many, including myself, so it was good to hear this has not posed any significant issues for Behlen.

What makes Behlen’s implementation outside-the-box? They went with a “Project Central”, essentially replacing the old folder approach with its collection of printed documents to a central project-centric view within PLM 360. Each project created within Project Central is linked to many workspaces, which describe and define the project. So far they have 16 Workspaces built, are actively using 7, and will be implementing the rest slowly over the upcoming months. Here are their tips on implementation:

Watch and manage scope creep. The initial plan was for 7 PLM workspaces and ended up with 16.

  • Momentum is crucial, get early buy-in, keep people involved, implement with a plan, constantly follow-up and look for opportunities for additional training.
  • The initial approach was training the department heads and have them train their people, it didn’t work. So they setup a core team to provide training to all departments.
  • Don’t repeat bad legacy processes but be cautious of trying to implement too many improvements or changes to workflows too quickly.
  • Set a limit on changes… they do not make any changes to a workspace after initial implementation for 30-days for the users to really try it out. Development is frozen for the 30-days.
  • Your people will initially complain, be hesitant, and resist the change but weather the storm as this changes to acceptance and wanting more.

Here’s the process map once scope creep set in:

Behlen Scope Creep

Here’s how Phase 1 ended up once they went back to what they originally wanted to accomplish:

Behlen Phase I PLM 360 Implementation

One last note of interest is that Behlen has purchased 32-inch screens for many of their employees, so that looking at the drawing is the same as it was on the D-size printed drawings. Sign me up for one of those!

This class provided a really good behind the scenes look at an Autodesk customers journey to using PLM 360. It worked as Behlen did not just share the successes, but shared their pains and gains along the path to usuage.

Make sure to check out Scott’s posts on AU: Mindset: Tools to Anticipate, Plan for, and Create the Future,  Selected Quotes, Autodesk University 2014 Opening Keynote, and Is this the start of Autodesk Fusion 360 replacing Inventor? for more news from Autodesk University 2014, as well as keep an eye out for the rest of my recap.

Mindset: Tools to Anticipate, Plan for, and Create the Future – Selected Quotes

Autodesk University 2014: Mindset Tools to Anticipate, Plan for, and Create the Future

Today during the last day of Autodesk University, the final live streamed Innovation Forum session took place; Mindset: Tools to Anticipate, Plan for, and Create the Future. I haven’t watched it myself yet, but a number of tweets from attendees certainly got me interested, they even had Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s grandson Fabien Cousteau listed as the main speaker! So I will definitely be taking the time to watch it later on this evening. I’ve genuinely been impressed with this AU from afar and I’m super gutted that I didn’t push through with getting to the event like I have managed for the last two years.

Class Description

It’s clear that we’re living a world that’s volatile, uncertain, chaotic, and ambiguous. And within every industry, we’re seeing dizzying examples of new ways to make things. But what’s less clear is how organizations can systematically learn to understand, align with, and act on the broad forces of disruption. Join the MindSet Innovation Forum, which highlights essential skills to take advantage of new technologies applicable to every industry.

Selected Quotes

Angelo Vermeulen, visual artist

  • “I work with people to recycle wastes and build living ecosystems inside the computer networks that use those wastes”
  • “A culture of living organisms is collaborating with technology – symbiosis”
  • “Entangled reality – imagine having sensors inside your ecosystem that capture the dynamics, and using that data, real world getting into the virtual”
  • “Evolvability – the deep belief as a biologist that technology will accumulate more and more properties of living biology”
  • “I’m inspired by hardware”
  • “I am using a very specific design approach in my projects, approach things from multiple angles”
  • “Cross cultural dialogue is crucial to gaining a larger perspective on possible solutions for problems”
  • “I have a very different approach – we use no plan we just start building and slowly but surely everything emerges. It’s a very different approach than other design strategies”
  • “We approach building things from different angles simultaneously, without having a master plan”
  • “A second characteristic of how I am working is I am using a lot of waste – on one hand it makes the creators and the designers way more resilient , it makes humanity way more resilient”
  • “This approach leads to a discovery of questions as you go, leads to a very interesting way of designing things”
  • “The consequence of working like this is that you bind community – putting people in a position of such empowerment glues the community together, it gets people truly excited”

Bob Richards, CEO, Moon Express

  • “My passion in life, what drives me, is to help humanity become a multi world species”
  • “We live in an ocean of awesome, we live in a water planet that we are only just now beginning to discover, we’ve only scratched the surface”
  • “We live in an epic where we are now just leaving our world, starting to cross the ocean of space”
  • “When generations look back on us, this is the moment that we are leaving our planet for the first time”
  • “The moon is our sister world like the 8th continent”
  • “We’re proud to say we have used Autodesk tools in our design. Only by the power of simulation and computation, are we able to do what only superpowers have done before”
  • “What last year was a design, this year is a reality”
  • “The moon has water, a recent discovery, we are going to learn to use water as fuel, the moon is a fuel depot in the sky”
  • “We’ll help the interplanetary move from earth to earth’s orbit to the moon and beyond – making the humanity a multi world species”

Fabien Cousteau, aquanaut, oceanographic explorer, conservationist, and documentary filmmaker

  • “Oceans are the inner space of adventure”
  • “We have explored less than 5% of our oceans and yet nearly 95% of our worlds biodiversity is said to be living in and round that water body”
  • “When I was a kid I have to admit something to you all, in front of all the cameras, I was a terrible student. I grew up in a family of explorers and my imagination was going out the window in the school room – my imagination went way beyond that window”
  • “We were able to do 3 years’ worth of scientific research and data collection in one month because of the unprecedented access this opportunity afforded us”
  • “We were able to use new technologies to be able to see what goes on in that environment when were not around – what happens with climate change and acidification, what happens with pollution issues”
  • “As these systems get thrown into more and more chaos because of the unpredictability – we are realizing very real world repercussions on health, on the economy and of course on the future viability of these platforms”
  • “I’m a toy guy, I’m a technology guy – I’m not a scientist – the point of my adventure is to bring that knowledge back to the general masses so we can infuse them with a passion and knowledge so they can make better decisions”
  • “With technology, we’re able to get better insight into the biological realm so we can see biomechanics”
  • “Through the use of these innovative technologies we can imagine a new type of underwater habitat”
  • “As I mentioned bringing this to the general public is extremely important to me, especially youth – so they can learn to be better human beings”
  • “This adventure made me dream, made me dream about the future potential of what an underwater city or network of cities could afford us”

Pete Kelsey, Strategic Projects Executive, Autodesk

  • “For me, cool isn’t enough. Cool doesn’t pay the bills”
  • “The elephant in the room in terms of marine infrastructure is the oil and gas industry. That is next great opportunity for all the work we’ve being doing at Autodesk.”
  • “I can’t think of a better answer to “so what” than this – we at Autodesk are investing – Autodesk Maritime R&D, into something that is worth the investment and the time
  • “For me there was always something missing, something nagging, there must be a way to share that connection with data or a place with a much broader audience”
  • “Physical to digital to physical again”
  • “With Wow – all things are possible”

Tom Wujec, Fellow at Autodesk

  • “This century’s literacy is about design”

Mouse McCoy, world-class racer, stunt man, and the founder and creative director of Bandito Brother

  • “We are dreamers, designers and makers”
  • “We’ve always played with cars and cars have always played with our imagination”
  • “Evil Knievel holds one world record and that’s for the most broken bones”
  • “We are looking forward to the future of smart systems, data, engineering to take us out of the cowboy realm
  • “Looking forward as we look at what’s possible to reframe man and machine, how can smarter systems evolve what we do”
  • “Stunts are just going to become engineering, we can turn that into STEM and STEAM curriculum and in that process, refine what’s possible for man and machine”

Watch for yourself

It’s Beginning to Look a lot Like AU

Autodesk University is almost upon us. Here’s a little familiar tune to get you into the spirit of the event

It’s beginning to look a lot like A U
Everywhere you go;
Take a look in the forums, glistening once again
With twibbons and green badges aglow.

It’s beginning to look a lot like A U
Details overwhelming email
Lets all hope to see that the lines for lunch will be
not as slow as a snail

An AU after party, with a bunch of bacardi
Is the wish of Gavin Bath;
3D Printers that will talk and will go for a walk
Is on John’s learning path;
And Design and Motion can hardly wait to blog the talk;

It’s beginning to look a lot like A U
Don’t be overwhelmed
There are sessions in the Mandalay Bay, many over drink
Behave yourselves

It’s beginning to look a lot like A U;
Soon the keynote will start,
And the thing that will make it rock is Carl Bass doing a dance
It melts your heart.

The following video contains singing that some viewers may find disturbing – Viewer discretion is strongly advised. Video is intended for audiences with a sense of humor and poor hearing only as it contains singing of a horrendous nature.

The singing expressed in this video does not necessarily reflect the views nor taste of Design & Motion. That being said, you have been warned!

Join us at Autodesk University 2014

Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages Design & Motion proudly brings to you, its Autodesk University speakers Mike Thomas and Gavin Bath!

If you’re heading to Las Vegas for Autodesk’s annual user-conference, we invite you to join us for one (or all four!) of our Inventor classes. John will also be seen lurking around Vegas too, so make sure to track him down. Continue Reading

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