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The 11 Moments of Autodesk University 2015

The 11 Moments of Autodesk University 2015

Autodesk University 2015 (AU) has come and gone, and it was one of the best I’ve attended.

On the first day of AU, Autodesk gave to me…. a beer…. in a tree

On the second day of AU, John gave to me. Two Media Events

On the third day of AU, Autodesk gave to me. Three Usability Studies

On the fourth day of AU, Autodesk gave to me. Four pounds of country fried steak

The fifth moment of AU, Autodesk gave to me. Five golden toques

At the Keynote at AU, Autodesk gave to me. Six Star Wars Stormtroopers!

Las Vegas

A bit different for me this year is that I flew into Vegas the Sunday night, giving me the full Monday to attend pre-conference events. That Sunday night, it was exactly the same temperature as what it was when I left Saskatoon (-3 Celcius). The difference is in Saskatoon everyone was in light jackets enjoying the unseasonably warm weather, where everyone in Vegas was in winter parkas, toques, scarfs, and face masks. It made me chuckle.

AU 2015 was held at the Venetian, which to me is the best hotel on the strip. It really is a grand hotel and I find the conference facility to be better laid out leading to much less walking than other AU locations. As with every AU, it blows me away how they are able to accommodate 12,000 people. The keynote is a bit of a disaster getting out after, but at meal time people are in and out, fed and watered, with hardly a wait. The meals provided for lunch and supper in the exhibit hall were exceptional, my hats off to the Venetian staff. The best meal though was at the conference ending party at the Hard Rock. The Chicken Fried Steak and Jalapeno Mac & Cheese was out of this world!


I also went jogging down the strip with 25-other brave people. Thanks to Shaan Hurley for organizing this and mapping out the route. I just started jogging a few months back and wasn’t prepared for all the stairs… it really did me in. So between the stairs, stopping to take pictures, and taking a wrong turn I came in dead last… but I made the full 3-miles!


Easily the best thing about Autodesk Univeristy is the networking. 12,000 people (“CAD Geeks” my wife refers to us as) in one location, there to talk about CAD, design, engineering, CAM, and life in general…. what could be better? And the mingling starts at 6:30 AM over breakfast and goes until the early hours at any of the many social events that occur in the evenings. [I also found a new favorite beer, Goose Island IPA!]

Goose Island Beer - baconfest 013

Goose Island beer – Baconfest 2013 by Anne Petersen

Do we only talk “shop“? No, but I’ve met so many interesting people over the years, learned lots, been inspired, laughed, and have made many great friends. The people I’ve met at AU (and stayed in contact) have helped me out of some jams over the years. In fact, this gig I have with D&M was a result of attending AU.

It can be overwhelming with the sheer number of people, especially for introverted type people, but if you put yourself out there, ask a couple simple questions, trust me you will learn a lot. This year I learned about building processing plants in Denmark, using Cray Supercomputers in the 80’s for FEA, and the state of Wyoming… there was a lot of deep Star Wars discussions, and I learned a lot about American Politics and the Health Care system in the UK… it was all fantastic!

Vault Customer Advisory Board

My preconference day was mostly spent with the Vault Customer Advisory Board (CAB). A select group of Vault users brought together by the Vault team to discuss Vault… the good, the bad, and the ugly! It’s a really small group only made smaller as only a few of us could make it to AU. However, even though the six of us were outnumbered by the Autodesk crew, we definitely let them know our opinions! I’d love to share what we discussed, but I’m under NDA (sorry).

I will share one of the activities we did, which I think I might start using at work. We were given $10,000 in play money, and a store in which we could buy features ($1000 each). The goal was to build a new solution for Vault, make a poster for it, and then “sell” it to our peers. As we were limited in the features we could buy it really made us focus on what was important and why it was important. What a great way to make us focus, plus making it a competition always helps! My team (team Canada, eh!) consisted of myself, Damien (Evans Console), and Mikel Martin (Autodesk). We did good, even though I had to step out momentarily for another meeting and bailed on the team’s presentation to the group (oops).

AU CAB Team Canada Eh

I’m really hoping this is the kickoff to achieving great things with the CAB throughout 2016. (Thanks Alan for the picture)


I’ve already written about the Keynote, but it was really good this year and even included Stormtroopers!

AU2015 Keynote Lynn Storm Troopers


The Autodesk Simulation team did a great job of scheduling a track specific about FEA with Nastran. Tracks at AU are a series of classes presented in order, revolving around a topic or software. They are great when you want to focus on something in particular as it takes the stress out of scheduling. You know you will learn a lot about the topic as they can break it down and focus on the specifics. This isn’t always easy in one 60-minute or 90-minute class.

Unfortunately, I was only able to make one session, IM10376 Let’s Get It Started, presented by Sualp Ozel. This was the kickoff to the Sim track. I attended this class not that I’m new to FEA but new to Nastran, and Sualp is a great presenter and teacher. I will definitely be checking out the other classes in this track when the material is posted to AU Online.


Autodesk has been talking about the “Internet of Things” (IoT) for the past few AU’s. This year was different as they have officially entered the IoT market with the acquisition of SeeControl. 2016 is going to see a ton of IoT from Autodesk, this is only the start.

Autodesk SeeControl

In a very Vegas fashion, I got to see SeeControl live-and-in-action while sitting on a stool, in a bar, drinking a beer, while at an Autodesk-sponsored social event. SeeControl is 100% cloud-based and works with a very extensive list of devices. What’s very cool about SeeControl is whenever someone adds a new device, it becomes available for everyone…. crowd sourcing at its finest. It all seems very promising, but I need to research a bit before I can really make an opinion.

What is the Internet of Things? I like how Jacob Morgan put it in Forbes 

So what is the Internet of things?

“Simply put this is the concept of basically connecting any device with an on and off switch to the Internet (and/or to each other). This includes everything from cell phones, coffee makers, washing machines, headphones, lamps, wearable devices and almost anything else you can think of. This also applies to components of machines, for example a jet engine of an airplane or the drill of an oil rig. As I mentioned, if it has an on and off switch then chances are it can be a part of the IoT. The analyst firm Gartner says that by 2020 there will be over 26 billion connected devices…that’s a lot of connections (some even estimate this number to be much higher, over 100 billion). The IoT is a giant network of connected “things” (which also includes people). The relationship will be between people-people, people-things, and things-things.”

Usability Studies / Answer Bar

I’ve done Usability Studies before, but this year they were exceptional. What are usability studies? An opportunity to sit with Autodesk 1-on-1 or in a small group and test new and / or technology and just talk out loud about what you like and what you don’t like. It’s great for Autodesk to get live feedback and its great for you as you get to see what’s planned and get your input into its direction. This year I attended two, one on Simulation and another on A360… again, sorry, can’t share as I signed an NDA.

I will admit that in the past for every time  I walked by an Answer Bar, I just kept on walking. I thought they were just for “newbies” and beginners and man I was wrong. After a bit of prodding I went and sat at the Manufacturing Answer Bar and was able to put the next version of Inventor through its paces. It went so well, and I was honestly having so much fun, that I was late for my next appointment. So, if you are ever at AU stop at each Answer Bar and demand they show you something new!

Behind the Music

It started from an idea (thank KRob!) to present stories from actual Vault users on their journey through implementation to usage of the product. So Chris Benner, Jim Amero, and myself presented to a room full of people, our journey to Vault. I felt bad as I got a bit excited and started rambling and cut into Jim’s time. But like the pro he his, Jim adapted and finished his portion right at the end of the class allotted time. I love presenting at AU, but this year was a bit strange as I only had one class and it didn’t involve any demoing! But the reviews were really positive, so I think it went well.

[Another AU testimonial, this is the second class Chris and I have co-presented together, and we met at AU a handful of years ago and stay in contact even between AUs.]

Exhibit Hall

For people in the manufacturing realm, they probably found the Exhibit Hall a bit underwhelming as I did. Sure seemed to be a lot more for AEC (Civil and Architecture). Not that there wasn’t a few cool things, but overall I give it one big meh.

What was cool? (A few of my favorites)

  • Frame was there (whom I’ve written about lately and have a few more planned for early 2016). They announced they have completed its Virtual Environment Certification for Autodesk applications, exciting news
  • Tetra4D which has some upcoming cool tech for PDF. You will see some posts from me about what they are doing in early 2016, if not sooner
  • Google’s Project Tangoa tablet that can real-time 3D scan, plus its a crazy game environment. It’ll be interesting to see what they do with this technology
  • KeyMouse – The keyboard and mouse reinvented (enough said!)

What was surprising? The lack of reseller presence isn’t really that surprising as its the way the industry is going. When I started attending AU five years ago it was the resellers who had the biggest booths and were throwing the biggest parties. Now, the only reseller booth I remember seeing was IMAGINiT’s. What has taken over the reseller presence is definitely the training providers. Ascent and Global eTraining had big booths and seemed to be swamped (busy) all the time.

What was shocking? The amount of large format plotters, and I mean LARGE devices. I thought we were in the paperless age?

What didn’t I like?

You’ve probably read this and are thinking “Mike, it can’t all be buttercups and rose petals?”. It wasn’t, even though it was probably the best AU I’ve attended.

Like every AU there is SO much going on and it is really hard to create your schedule. I check, and check, and double check the class list as I always get an overwhelming (anxious) feeling that I’ve picked the wrong class or missing something really important. Unfortunately, I don’t have a solution, although I know I missed some great classes this year (like Paul’s Complex Topology and Class-A Surface Modeling with Inventor)

Autodesk employees seem to be dominating the delivery of classes… even though it is an Autodesk User conference. It would be better to have more users up in front of the classes. This is my biggest complaint.


Overall, great AU, I learned lots, talked to a lot of great people, and came back motivated.



Feature Image Can You See Us Below This Looks Like a Warp Speed Effect by Torley


The Cloud Changes Everything at Autodesk University

After the Keynote and a quick lunch, was the media event where Autodesk summarized the year, took a high-level look at the next year, and made a couple announcements. The overall theme was the Cloud Changes Everything.

The Cloud Changes Everything

The session started with Scott Reese VP Cloud Platforms. He talked about how the Autodesk vision is to help people imagine, design, and create a better world. He echoed Carl’s statement about the convergence of industries and how the “Cloud Changes Everything”

AU Media People Will Design

How is the cloud impacting us? Production, Demand, and Product. We’re not patient, we want it now, and we want it fully customized… and everything is connected. The traditional concept to design to produce to operate and finally retire is gone. We no longer need to mass produce to make money and no longer need to wait until the end to find value in what we produce. The “new” method of making things is to personalize, collaborate, it’s flexible and aims to provide a truly great customer experience. Consumers want to buy your product, but they want it tailored for their needs. Collaboration is happening at the point of innovation. The manufacturing process is becoming flexible with the advancements in advanced manufacturing, including 3D Printing.

Autodesk is now Design | Make | Use and working to blur the lines between the “silos” Scott talked briefly about Fusion 360, PLM 360, and Autodesk 123D Circuits

The Cloud Changes Everything - Design Make Use

The customer example was Flare who is building smart home products, for example, vents connected to your home thermostat so that the temperature of your house manages the opening and closing of the vents. They are a Fusion 360  customer

AU Media Flare

We are entering the Era of connection where we are all instrumented and connected to others who are instrumented (for example Fitbit). Think about Smart Homes where all he things we are connected are connected to other things… also, think about smart cars that are aware of the things around them. This has and will lead to an overwhelming amount of data that a human cannot begin to comprehend…. drum roll please… lead to the introduction of Autodesk SeeControl for the Internet of Things. [Note: I was fortunate to be a VIP for the AU IoT event and plan to cover SeeControl in more depth later]. The SeeControl acquisition was “soft” announced a few months back, but this was the official introduction to the Autodesk portfolio.

SeeControl fits into Autodesk’s ecosystem as it is completely cloud-based and can be connected to sensors to collect data almost instantly. The example usage case was industrial where traditional maintenace was scheduled “just-in-case” replacement, but with sensors transmitting data SeeControl predicts wear and problems and schedules maintenance when its actually going to fail. Autodesk has over 60 customers already using it in production.

People will design, make, and use the connected future with Autodesk

Design Re-imagined and Project Wingman

Amy Bunszel, VP of AutoCAD Products, discussed “Design Re-imagined”. How the platform transition drives opportunity and she talked about the initial switch from mainframe to PC lead to AutoCAD and now the move is to the Cloud & Mobile. Again, the Cloud Changes Everything. Autodesk has already or will be shortly moving to continuous updates, pay-as-you-go subscription, making sure that data is always available, and providing an experience optimized for mobile. All Product Managers within Autodesk have been given a mission to change the customer experience.

This includes

  • Simplified…. Continual upgrades with “bite-sized” updates meaning you are always on latest version with none of the uninstall / reinstall pains
  • Personalized… based on the user-level of experience or how they like to work the product will adapt. The products will also provide better interoperability, customizations migrate easily, and use-based skill-building tips 
  • Connected… collaboration anywhere, anytime, with anyone and a coherent experience on desktop, web, mobile across any platform

Amy finished with the Project Wingman announcement which is a new application that runs along side the product providing support, tips, and suggestions based on your requirements. The project started about 6-months ago with AutoCAD / LT users and is available for testing now with the new beta. Scott and Gavin get an early opportunity as Australia and New Zealand will get Wingman very soon.

Autodesk University 2015 Keynote Summary

A new experience for me at this years Autodesk University 2015 Keynote is my Media Pass. It allowed me to sit in the front row and was able to live tweet, take notes, and experience the event up close and personal. It was a bit overwhelming to keep up, but what an experience!

Autodesk University 2015 Keynote

Like all years, the keynote really sets the tone for the rest of the conference. What really made this year’s keynote was the “special” guests, plus Jeff Kowalski was really on his game this year…. and the hip hop dancers were amazing. Autodesk created a party-like atmosphere, and there seemed to be a real buzz as people exited the hall.

AU Keynote Dancers 1 AU Keynote Dancers 2

Lynn Allan was first, as she always is, to introduce the 23rd Autodesk University. Escorted onto the stage by storm troopers no less! So COOL!

AU2015 Keynote Lynn Storm Troopers

Carl Bass “Reframing”

Keeping with the party atmosphere, Carl Bass (Autodesk CEO) came onto the state to ACDC’s Thunderstruck, much less corny than years past. His theme was “Reframing” and he shared stories of customers he’s met and visited, highlighting customers who are solving “not just the old problems“. There are some people / companies out there doing some really amazing stuff and I really like these stories. Autodesk does a good job of focusing on the success and the people and although they make it known their software was involved it really becomes secondary to the story.

Bob and Kelly at ConXtech design and build steel buildings. They have created their own system (mechanism) of fitting the steel together. It is a system based on a simple dovetail joint but designed so that assembly does not require welding or onsite riveting.  With this system, they are able to erect over10,000 sq ft of building per day, with a very small crew. Other problems they solved: They built their own jigs so that they could weld horizontally (30% faster than vertical welding) and when ConXtech ran into difficulties getting pre-qualified for seismic, they built their own testing system as nothing existed. They “reframed” the way they worked

I don’t know where I’ve been hiding but I haven’t seen or read anything on the new Apple campus, I knew they were doing it but didn’t really know what. Its impressive… 3 million sq feet, $5 billion to build, a big “donut” that has Steve Job’s design all over it. Carl talked about precast concrete panels made to super precise tolerances, with embedded RFID chips to track it throughout the process. It made him realize that they were really assembling, not building, and that the building and manufacturing industries are converging.

“The building industry is looking more and more like the manufacturing industry” Carl Bass

The last example was Kevin Zinger who was building car batteries in China until he found out that a typical car generates 1/3 its environment impact as it rolls off the assembly line. So he created Divergent to create cars that are not just energy efficient, but efficient in the making. Making cars… but “making sure we’re working on the right problems.

AU Keynote Carl Bass 1

“Are we working on the right problem”?

AU Keynote Carl Bass 2

Carl wrapped up his examples discussing the Internet of Things (IoT), which you will see a lot of from Autodesk. Carl described how IoT creates closed looped systems to capture, analyze, and react to problems. His example was an airport deicing company that ran our of deicer during a storm and it grounded 450 planes. This company implemented IoT completely reframe how they did things. They now monitor how much is deicer is used, how long it takes to apply, how much is left, when the next load is coming, and how much environmental impact there is from the chemical.

Carl addressed the growing fear over the potential for technology to replace people creating a shortage of jobs. Carl explained that the problem isn’t going to be a shortage of jobs but a shortage of talented people. He asked “How will you attract and maintain talented people?” He continued explaining people care more about doing meaningful work than the perks. They want to be passionate and work on something that is meaningful to them.

Andrew McAfee

Andrew McAfee is the co-director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy. If you are going to watch the recording of the keynote and only want to watch one presenter, he is the one to watch. He started suggesting that at a boring dinner party ask “What have been the most important developments in human history“. The geeky response is “what does the evidence say?” The real answer is that not one single event has significantly changed human history and social development until the development of the steam engine and the industrial revolution. (~240 years ago). These two events have lead to a higher standard of living even with an exploding population, but at the cost of diluting the world.

AU Keynote Andrew M 01

Andrew discussed how during the 1900’s there was a growing fear that the exploding population would lead to famine and human interaction to decide who lived and who died

AU Keynote Andrew M 02

This has not happened. We are eating better, living better, we’re wealthier, etc… So what happened?

  1. Innovation: when whale oil became too expensive to use we switched to kerosene in our lamps. We shouldn’t “low ball” human innovation
  2. Dematerialization: we are past the peak point of our commodity usage, we require less and are using less.
  3. Computerization: we have a bottomless thirst for software and code

AU Keynote Andrew M 03

AU Keynote Andrew M 06

AU Keynote Andrew M 07

We (as Earth’s population) have two remaining challenges:

  1. We need to stop cooking the planet
  2. We require less labour which is putting increasing pressure on the middle class

There are some positive signs… the whales are back in New York!

AU Keynote Andrew M 09

The next great era of human work “Augmented Age”

Jeff Kowalski was up last, and he was on his game today. His presentation was well delivered and definitely motivated me.

AU Keynote Jeff K 01

Jeff started by explaining how our relationship with tools has been directive, they are passive… they do what we tell them and nothing else. Technology is making a giant leap from Passive to Generative… your goals and constraints are the inputs and the computer explores the solution space and provides ideas, many we probably wouldn’t have thought of or considered.

“With Generative Design, Complexity comes for free.”

Airbus & Autodesk are working on a partition panel that sits between passengers and the flight crew. The current panel is already light and strong, but Airbus doesn’t think it is good enough. Autodesk ran their generative analysis solution on it and the new design is half the weight, but much stronger than the original. Airbus has calculated the weight savings is equivalent to removing 96000 passenger cars per year.

AU Keynote Jeff K 02

The first part of the Augmented Age is Generative, the next is Intuitive – the ability to learn is making computers better partners for design. You will be able to show something you’ve designed to the computer and it will tell you if it works, creating a true partner in design.

Technology is becoming Empathic. It learns you, your likes, dislikes, and starts to understand what you want and suggest what you really need.

The fear is robots will take jobs but Jeff believes you will not lose our jobs to robots, but to others who do clever things with the robot.

Dr. Hugh Herr

A truly inspirational story, Dr Hugh Herr (a MIT Professor) started by explaining how he is a “bunch of nuts and bolts from the knee down” but that he can run, jog, and skip. He lost his legs in the early 80s from frostbite he got from a mountain climbing excursion. Dr Herr was told he’d never be able to mountain climb again… but he did.

AU Keynote Dr Herr 01

“My body wasn’t broken, technology was broken”.

AU Keynote Dr Herr 02

Technology has the power to heal. Ask yourself, do you see weakness or the opportunity to make things better? Technology will free us from the shadows of disability.

AU Keynote Dr Herr 03

Something that is interesting and scary at the same time is his explanation that “Bionics” will lead to a future, where the designer will design themselves.

Making Things People Want

Jeff came back and talked about the nervous system of the things, we make, and how it is still rudimentary. In a funny example, but one that makes you think, he asked “What if barbie is really lonely?“. What if the toy manufacturer could track their toys right from design to creation to the actual use? What’s missing is a nervous system connecting us to the things we design and manufacture. Once things are connected we’ll be able to make better designs, react to actual use, know if people actually like it, and be able correct existing products (for example apply a patch).

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.

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

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! Continue Reading

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