Saturday, December 7, 2019

Reflection on Autodesk University Las Vegas 2019

I hadn't been to Autodesk University in a number of years. But this year I doubled down and went to two; London (June) and Las Vegas (November). Both where really great conferences, where I met lots of people, went to some great sessions and even got a selfie with Autodesk's CEO, Andrew Anagnost. In Vegas, I also presented twice.

Today's post will reflect on AU Las Vegas 2019, click here for a recap on AU London 2019.

Keep reading to learn more...
This was a record setting year with 12.8k attendees. The conference was held at the Venetian in Las Vegas, as it has been many times before. It has been hosted in Las Vegas for about 14 years now... but my first AU was in 2005 when it was at Walt Disney World in Florida:) See the conclusion at the end for a rumor related to future locations for AU...


All conferences start with a keynote presentation... and this was a fun one. First, Autodesk's CEO, Andrew Anagnost, got things started... you can watch the entire thing here: AU Las Vegas 2019: Opening Keynote

As an Autodesk Expert Elite I got to sit in the fourth row, right behind the Board of Directors! That was awesome.

We got to see the new Volkswagen bus drive out on stage...

And hear Asa Kalama, from Disney, talk about how they designed the new Star Wars section at Walt Disney World in Florida.

Sooooo cool!

Several Navisworks screenshots where shared!

As well as Revit screenshots!

Then, we heard from Dr. Elizabeth Hausler, founder and CEO of Build Change, talk about her work to reinforce buildings/structures in impoverished areas around the world. At the conclusion of her moving presentation Andrew mentioned that Autodesk, to date, has donated $1 million dollars to her organization, and would now be adding one-half million dollars more to that total. Cool!

A slide from Dr. Hausler's presentation...

Exhibit Hall

Every conference has an exhibit hall, and the one at AU is 'king' in the world of design software (at least in my experience). Remember there are over 12k potential new customers here, so it is the perfect place for third-party developers and hardware manufacture's to setup shop!

My friend's from NVIDIA had a prime location just inside the main entry to the hall...

Many cool things to look at... such as Virgin Hyperloop One pod.

Of course, Enscape were there...

A small section affectionately dubbed "BIM Street" with some power-user favorites grouped together.

Dell had a great location and lineup of hardware to look at...

My friend's at CTC and ATG also had a great booth with a section dedicated to the product I helped developed, the MEP Productivity Pack for Revit. Here is one of many posts I have written about that; click here.

I got to try something new... multiple users in VR in the same play area with InsiteVR. I have done many multi-user VR experiences before. Just not where we are all in the same space.

Notice, in the first image below I am giving the guy next to me a high-five! It was impressive.

They had some amazing food... and not too many lines to stand in. Not sure how that worked:)

Theater Talk

Highlighting products from/for Dell, NVIDIA and HTC in an AU Theater Talk I also did a presentation on The Future of VR in Architecture. This will eventually show up with the other classes, but for now it can be viewed here (select 'Future of Work' in the small area at the top of the screen). Update: Here is a direct link to my 13 minute talk, click here.

There was standing room only in the room. Not only that, but the Theater Talks were also live streamed and over 400 people from around the world tuned in live to view my session!

The room was pretty cool, with blue lighting and cushy seating. I was able to do a rehearsal the day before. Thanks to Phil Read for taking these next three photos and sharing them with me!

Our Session

The main session I co-presented in was The New Game in Town: Link an AutoCAD Civil 3D Surface in Revit Through BIM 360. We covered the new Civil 3D to BIM 360 to a Revit link workflow and even touched on the new BIM 360 Design support for Civil 3D. I think it went really well! You can watch the recording and download the 30-page handout here: click here.

Our session stats from the attendee survey:
  1. Would you recommend this class to your colleagues and peers? 97.37% said yes
  2. How would you rate the primary speaker of this class? 4.53 out of 5
  3. Please rate the quality of the class materials: 4.53 out of 5

A nice attendee comment from the surveys:
"The example of how the civil 3D and shared coordinates work together was explain so easily. Made one of the most miss understood subjects look like a piece of cake. Thank you"
My co-speaker, pictured with me below, was on the development team for this new feature, and came all the was from Autodesk's Shanghai China office! I first met Zhengrong Fu in that office while there a few years ago for a beta testing event called Revit - Inside the Factory. This is when I was first exposed to this new feature, and now we came full circle to present on its use on a real-world project together!

This collaboration resonated with the audience as seen in this quote from the a survey:
"The fact that the presenters, an Autodesk presenter and private citizen... spoke over a video of their presentation was pretty amazing. I suspect they are/were the best prepared and practiced speakers at AU. Very impressive."

Here are a few shots from our presentation. Zhengrong did about half of the presentation, covering the various ways to setup shared coordinated in Revit and an overview of the Civil 3D to Revit workflow. These next two photos are courtesy of Autodesk and their professional photographer.

My turn... I spent a little time talking about how we are using this workflow on a large complex hospital project being built on a rather steep site.

Here are a few more photos of the session... thanks to my friend Minghua Zheng, from Autodesk, for taking the next two photos and sharing them with me.

Here is a shot I took from the presenter's perspective:)

I gave away four copies my my book Autodesk Revit 2020 Architectural Command Reference (co-authored with Autodesk's Jeff Hanson). One of the winners came up to say thanks and I asked to get a picture with here... Brenda Valdez from Davido Consulting Group in Federal Way, WA, USA. Before the class started I asked Google from several random numbers, to pre-select chairs (i.e. winners) in the room:)

One more thing... for some pre-show entertainment I was playing my 360 video off of YouTube of my bike ride home from work, while sharing some fun facts about Duluth, MN. Click here for a previous post on that.

Another anonymous comment (which they all are) from the surveys:
"Excellent content about the new features and improvements to terrain modeling from Civil3D into Revit. Can’t wait to put them to use once we upgrade to the newer versions. Dan shares his biking video, which was a welcome change from the typical static screen."

Power Users Breakfast

I was invited to a nice breakfast with a few "Revit Power Users" on Tuesday. This was a lot of fun.

Expert Elite Lunch with Product Managers

As an Autodesk Expert Elite, I also was able to attend a lunch with the Autodesk Product Managers. Here I am with Ian Molloy, Harlan BrummChris Yanchar and Martin Schmid from Autodesk. Other customers included Kimberly Fuhrman, Jarod Schultz, and David Koch.

EE Lunch with Autodesk CEO and CDO

There was another lunch for Expert Elites where we got to hear Autodesk Chief Digital Officer Jeff Kinder talk about top secret company developments and then we were able to ask him and Autodesk CEO Andrew Anagnost questions. I managed to grab this great selfie with Andrew:)

We all squished together for a group photo. Andrew is directly in the middle and I am shoulder-to-shoulder with him on the right (his left).

Dinner with Friends

I had the opportunity to have dinner with my friends from Autodesk's Shanghai China office. I first met Kitty Ma and Minjie Wang at the first RTC/BILT event in Singapore. And then a few years later I went to the Shanghai China office and saw Kitty again and then first met my co-speaker for this year, Zhengrong Fu for the Revit Inside the Factory event. So much fun...

AU Block Party

The conference closed out with a huge block party for 12k people. This was literal a block closed off for AU where all the restaurants, clubs and shops were exclusively for us and everything was free. There were a few specialty shops that were closed, such as a candy shop.

a band...

smoke and lasers...


food... everywhere.

a VR experience shop...


There was so much to do, so many people to talk with, so much good food, and so many amazing classes to attend.

If you have never been to Autodesk University I recommend you give it a try. Next year it will be at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. There were rumors of AU starting to travel around again, and be hosted in different Cities... but I have not heard anything official on that.

For BIM Chapters updates, follow @DanStine_MN on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn

Check out my video-based  courses on ArchSmarter.

I also write blog posts for Enscape - a new paradigm in rendering, animation and VR for AEC.