23 November 2016

Autodesk's conference for those who design, build, make and create has drawn to a close, bringing the curtain down on a packed three day programme at The Venetian in Las Vegas, USA.

This year's programme from 15-17 November was as wide-ranging as ever - where else can you see bricklaying robots, generate a topographical map from a sandbox (pictured) and find out what's next for BIM? Here we provide some of the key takeaways from this year's event. There's also some handy links to all of this year's keynotes so if you didn't make it, you don't have to miss out.

What is Autodesk University anyway?

An annual conference for those interested in design, building and technology from software company Autodesk. The video trailer should give you an idea of what the event's all about.

Autodesk University can trace its roots back to 1993 and a software user conference in San Francisco. It was a chance for designers, architects, and engineers to come together and learn from the best in their industries, share practical tips for getting the most from the software, compare notes, and network with their peers.

The event grew steadily and the remit and appeal broadened from construction to to industries like media and entertainment. Organisers started to include not just software users, but industry leaders, too. And, as that happened, AU evolved from an opportunity to share Autodesk software tips and tricks to showcasing thought leadership, case studies, and much more. In recent years a range of similar international conferences have sprung up and a range of online classes are available on the Autodesk University website.

AU evolved from an opportunity to share Autodesk software tips and tricks to showcasing thought leadership, case studies, and much more.

What were the key themes at Autodesk University 2016?

With such a varied programme it's hard to single out just a handful of key themes, it's well worth searching on hashtag #AU2016 to get a flavour, but here are some of the ideas that stood out for us...

1. The future of BIM will not be BIM...

Bill Allen, co-founder and partner of EvolveLAB BIM Consulting looked to the future of intelligent construction in his Autodesk University keynote.

With advancements in generative design, software algorithms, and robotic construction, we are set to move from Building Information Modelling to Building Information Optimisation.

Rather than manually drawing walls, doors, and columns for what we think is a good design, we will feed the computer "rules" instructing it to give us a building’s optimal footprint, structural load capacity, and thermal performance.

So what does this future look like and how do we prepare for it? Bill’s session served as a survival guide.

Watch 'The Future of BIM Will Not Be BIM - and It's Coming Faster Than You Think'

2. The robots aren't coming for us - they're coming FOR us

In the opening keynote Autodesk CTO Jeff Kowalski explored four key technologies that are converging and changing the future of work;

Machine learning and artificial intelligence – a progression from Spock to Kirk – as intuition, hunches, leaps and imagination is starting to see machines transcend into the realm of human creativity.

Generative design – design where we don’t tell machines what to do, rather we tell them what we need and allow computers to play through, weight and evaluate thousands of possibilities.

Virtual reality – The ability to experience data early and first-hand for more connected, emotional, collaborative and meaningful experiences.

Robotic systems – The final piece in the puzzle – the ability to express things tangibly in the real world. A world where we ‘print’ bridges.

The connection between all these technologies? People. Rather than seeing these technologies as a threat they are in fact superpowers. Those who adopt and adopt quickly will usurp their competitors.

Yes, technology, robots, machines are coming but they’re not coming for us – they’re coming FOR us – to make us more creative, productive, better informed…

Watch 'Opening Keynote'

3. The drones are coming and their data is actionable!

Hunter Cole and Jesse Creech from Brasfield & Gorrie showed how drone-acquired data can transform construction.

By making a virtual model more closely mimic the physical job site drones can deliver engaging marketing content, estimations of quantities, pinpoint design problems early and help place items in the field with far greater accuracy.

Instant ROI through aerial progress images, time lapse, and site familiarisation, and deeper insight from measurements, monitoring and topographical drawings, this session focussed on how to capitalise on the new wave of flying technology.

Watch 'Drones in Construction: Beyond Pictures - Capturing and Exploring Actionable Data'

4. Get over your BIM hangover!

James Vandezande, Director of Design Technology at HOK explored the concept of a ‘BIM hangover’ in his session exploring habits of highly effective BIM managers.

In an engaging session (with scant mention of BIM models - #fluffykittens) James showed how to power through the hangover pain points – how to counter management demands to do BIM ‘bigger, faster and cheaper’, how to recognise the practical purpose of all you do, and how to ensure managers don’t promise beyond what is possible.

Developing the ‘soft skills’ required for new roles in leadership and support is often overlooked and James’ session looked in detail at developing effective plans for practical BIM implementation.

Watch 'Habits of Highly Effective BIM Managers'

5. Embrace the 'out there' ideas

Wrapping up Autodesk University for 2016, Autodesk SVP Andrew Anganost reminded attendees of the need to adapt to survive.

Drawing parallels with the automotive industry where ‘what it means to be a car is changing’ Andrew reinforced the fact that those wrestling with what this means rather than clinging to existing technologies or business models. The lesson? Don’t dismiss those outlandish ideas like self-driving, autonomous cars – embrace and shape the change.

While driven by technology that change is also changing the way we work. In a world of machine learning and cloud computing, collaborative teams assemble quickly to deal with problems and move on, and the software they require is changing to meet these changed ways of working.

Watch 'Closing Keynote'
With such a varied programme it's hard to single out just a handful of key themes - it's well worth searching on hashtag #AU2016 to get a flavour.
More than 200 recorded sessions will shortly be made available at au.autodesk.com. Right now you can access recordings and supporting materials for each of the keynotes.

Video presentations from Autodesk University 2016 - watch sessions online

High-Tech Structural Engineering: Using New Technologies to Enhance your Workflows
Marcello Sgambelluri
There are so many new technologies out there in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry. Which ones should your structural firm know? Which ones should you adopt into your office workflow? Which ones should you share with your clients?
Opening Keynote Carl Bass & Jeff Kowalski Autodesk CEO Carl Bass and CTO Jeff Kowalski talk about the trends and technologies they think will have the biggest impact on the work we do, and present exciting Autodesk customers from around the world who are doing some things you just won’t believe.
Dynamo for Revit - Baby Steps for the Non-Genius Jay Polding & Hany Iwamura
Five simple and practical examples that will save you pain and time in uncovering the basic principles of the Dynamo extension for Revit software.
Standards for Developing Standards: A How-to for Busy CAD Managers Curt Moreno A walk through of the entire process of installing CAD standards in your company. How can you know when it’s right for you to create standards, how do you identify which standards are needed, and then deploy? This session will help. 
The Future of BIM Will Not Be BIM - and it's Coming Faster than You Think
Bill Allen
A look to a future of intelligent constrction through Building Information Optimization.
Habits of Highly Effective BIM Managers
James Vadezande
Inspired by the book "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen R. Covey, this presentation will highlight a collection of tips to improve your role as a Building Information Modeling (BIM) manager in an architecture, engineering, or construction company.
Product Innovation Keynote Amar Hanspal
Get a firsthand look at some of the noteworthy technology available to you today and in the near future.
Technology Trends Impacting Design, Work and Life Itself Jonathan Knowles
Join Autodesk Explorer-in-Residence, Jonathan Knowles, and special guests from Amazon, Intel, Microsoft, HP, Lenovo, and Dell for a fascinating conversation about how a new era of digital construction is shaping the future of how things are made.
Code Blocks Not Required - Dynamo for the Rest of Us
Paul Aubin
Some very practical things you can do to automate your Revit software workflow, all with existing nodes.
More Families in Motion: New and Exciting Methods That Make Your Revit Families Move Marcello Sgambelluri
How to create parameters within the Revit software massing, adaptive component, and traditional Family Editors so your families can move.
Drones in Construction: Beyond Pictures - Capturing and Exploring Actionable Data Hunter Cole & Jesse Creech
An exploration of what is possible when data acquired by drones is integrated deeply into existing Building Information Modeling software.
Powering BIM - Capitalizing on Revit for Building Energy Modeling
David Butts
How to prepare and capitalize on your Revit software model to gain a better understanding of a building’s impact on its environment through building energy modeling.
Closing Keynote Andrew Anagnost
Join Autodesk SVP Andrew Anagnost, as he shares his perspective on driving change through innovation.
CSI: CAD Standards Implementation
Sam Lucido
Consistency in design and drafting are very important for maintaining and sharing drawings internally and externally in AutoCAD software. The CAD standards manager can help you check, correct, and maintain standards within your company.
Render Like a Photographer Ramy Hanna
This class will break down the principles of well-known architectural photographs and renderings and translate them to creating renderings using 3ds Max software.
Creating Dynamic Blocks in AutoCAD - Only You Can Prevent Bloated Block Libraries
Tracy Chadwick A practical workshop showing how Dynamic Blocks can greatly reduce the number of blocks in your library, improving your efficiency.

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