Autodesk University 2004 (AU) was the first I have attended. Given that it requires considerable investment, in money and time, to get there (from New Zealand) it was hard to know if the long trek to AU would really be worth it.
Many (including Autodesk) say AU is best the place in the world for Autodesk Brainpower, Training, and Industry Networking.
My one-line summary is “They are right!”
I learnt more in 4 days than I believed possible. It has taken several weeks just to process the notes and information collected. It will take much longer to implement what I learned. I can’t share everything but this article is a summary of what I went to discover and what I got from attending AU.
Perhaps it may be of help if you are trying to justify your attendance at the next AU. If at all possible, I will be there.
I. I went with many questions:
Are we using the right CAD technology?
How does company/industry structure & workflow fit with current/future technology?
What is the future of our current CAD platform?
Should we change what we are doing?
If change is required how do we migrate?
How can we leverage existing skills?
How can we develop new skills?
II. Many of my questions were addressed at AU plus many other benefits;
Many, but not all, of my questions were answered. As we are using CAD for Design and Asset Management planning the CAD system can be difficult often requiring balancing of many factors, both human and technological.
The system has to deliver today but also needs to anticipate what will likely be needed in the future, as implementation can be a long process. Sometimes we have been doing some things for years, as a CAD team, that the business only now wants to implement. The fact that they are largely done means that fine-tuning rather than a complete “start from scratch” will provide useful answers while the definitive solution is developed.
Often factors beyond your control can have a major impact on those future plans. You may plan around an application/feature/process that is adequate today only to find it’s totally surpassed by new technology.
AU provided valuable information to help make those judgements and as a result I have much more comfort planning our CAD future.
A. Tutorials Sessions;
Great quality training from the application specialists/developers or power users.
Architectural Desktop; Picked up many useful tips
Building Systems; I got Building Systems training that is not currently possible in NZ/Au.
Viz/Viz Render: Saved many hours experimentation as got some great “real world” solutions.
Met many people that were formerly e-mail, web and newsgroup contacts. In many ways this was the best part.
Able to meet the product teams for all the applications we use and some we don’t!
Met many fellow users to share info/advice.
Was able to get great feedback on the future of the applications we use.
Great help planning what, if anything, we need to do to be "future proof.
4400 users, many industries, same concerns!
Even met some who read the Blog!
IV. What I learnt for next time...
A. It was worth going. If at all possible I will be there next time,
Au2005 is in Orlando, Florida, another 7 hours flying from LA
You need 3 hours to comfortably get into US and transfer onto a domestic flight. Made it but was a little tight
Bose QuietComfort Headphones are expensive and worth it .I can sleep on the plane with them.
Don't rush to be first in line when they call your section to board the plane at the gate. There was a double up in seat allocation on the LAX-NZAA sector... Someone beat me to our economy seat... Business Class upgrade was good!
Avoid travelling near beginning or end of Thanksgiving weekend (Thurs -Sun) if at all possible but the middle was ok. San Francisco to Vegas on Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend was good.
C. My Au Tips:
1. Plan for two people, minimum, to attend. There is too much going on for one person to cover.
2. If going decide and book early;
Good classes fill fast. Many of the classes were "sold out"
Close accommodation filled fast. I was ok as at MGM Grand due to booking early in June. Some had long walk before the start of the 1 1/2 mile walk inside the MGM Grand. This probably wont be a factor in Orlando but…
3. Should not schedule any non-AU things on AU evenings.
Went to a show on an AU night so had to skip evening event. Wished I hadn't done that and had allowed extra time for that before as networking time lost
4. Arrive at least two days early if you can;
Easy registration on the pre-registration day plus can get your bearings. Got into several Subscriber events that filled up early due to limited space
5. Leave at least a day after;
Avoids checking out and travelling while 4400 AU people try & leave! Allows post conference meetings and catch-up with other attendees and sleep...
~ Own e-mail & web facility would be good.
If so wireless network access essential. Communal e-mail was ok but limited time. 4,400 people, maybe 200 e-mail pc's… Hard to read & compose Blog/e-mail when 1,000 lining up behind you!
My experiment with the hotel room WebTV email was a dismal failure.
~ Glad I didn't take a full size laptop:
Weight and airport security hassles. Have to unpack and open for every scan.
You can’t really use laptop in AU sessions; No work surface, too distracting, no access to power supply & sessions too long for most batteries.
But would have been good to have one for: writing up notes while still fresh, E-mail and Blogging, and if using a digital camera means need less memory as can download.
~ The Solution I want:
Laptop performance and capacity but not size and weight. Needs to be as easy to use a pen/paper. Best current solution is the Sony U70 – Laptop power + near PDA size but not cheap.
~ Decided a Digital Camera would be nice:
SLR type is essential & I will need external storage or loads of memory cards. Just converting what i shot in film while away would be about 1gb and I know I would have shot more with digital.