Autodesk Design Review….remember that one?

ADSKDesignReviewINSTALLED

So, Autodesk have FINALLY released a NEW version of Autodesk Design Review!

The last version was 2013 so it is about time!

Many thanks to my good friend at Autodesk, Scott Sheppard, for his blog on this over on It’s Alive In The Lab! (link here).

Autodesk Design Review is a great little tool that allows you to save out your AutoCAD drawings as the Autodesk DWF file format and then review them with tools such as redlining and design and revision comments, and with the ability to save out the DWF with that redlining and comments.

You can then view the redlining and comments in AutoCAD by way of the Markup Set Manager, opening up the marked up DWF file and seeing the redlining and comments in the layout tab of the original drawing file.

What does this do for you? Why will it help you?

Well, we have all heard of the cloud and I am sure many of you use Autodesk products such as A360 Drive and A360 team, but there are still situations where the cloud just isn’t available. Autodesk Design Review covers that little anomaly by providing you with a FREE piece of software that allows collaboration over a traditional client/server network. You don’t need to be a super AutoCAD guru Jedi either to drive it and with minimum training you can be up and running, redlining and commenting at your leisure, making sure that designs are corrected and revised where necessary.

I have used Autodesk Design Review in many training sessions I have run on AutoCAD, and I have used it in industry too. It’s a great little product, highly under-rated and best of all, it will cost you nothing.

So, what are you waiting for?

Here’s the download page!

http://www.autodesk.com/products/design-review/download

Enjoy that redlining! (see what I did there?) 🙂

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AutoCAD 2018: It’s here and here’s the new stuff….

As a member of the AutoCAD Blogger Council and a part of the AutoCAD Influencer team, I thought I should get some stuff out there about AutoCAD 2018 now that the embargo has been dropped!

Now, AutoCAD is a VERY mature product. So what can Autodesk do to AutoCAD to make it even better? Here are just some of the improvements and new features….

New DWG file format

Autodesk have released AutoCAD 2018 with a new AutoCAD 2018 DWG file format, so when you save a drawing using AutoCAD 2018 out of the box, it will save to the 2018 DWG file format. As quoted by Autodesk in the AutoCAD blog, the new 2018 DWG will improve the efficiency of open and save operations, especially for drawings that contain many annotative objects and viewports. So be careful if you upgrade and work on existing projects. Older versions of AutoCAD cannot read the 2018 format, so you will need to Save As to an older DWG format, or perhaps set your default Open & Save settings in Options? Just be careful with that one, as it is the first DWG upgrade since the 2013 DWG file format.

PDF SHX text support

When drawings and designs were exported to PDF using older shape code fonts (SHX), there was no support for the SHX text in the PDF and when PDFIMPORT was used to bring the PDF in to an AutoCAD drawing, the SHX text was converted to AutoCAD entities, such as polylines and arcs and the like. AutoCAD 2018 now provides SHX support when imported via a PDF, using the PDFSHXTEXT command. All you need to do is run the PDFSHXTEXT command, set the appropriate settings, select the AutoCAD entities that form the text objects and, hey presto, the entities become text.

External reference (XREF) path enhancements

How often have you had a broken external reference (XREF) filepath? AutoCAD 2018 provides some great new features that allow you to manage your XREFs much more effectively. Even when you have a new unsaved DWG file open (you know which one I mean, drawing01.dwg, right?), you can still XREF in another drawing in AutoCAD 2018. You can alter your reference path type from a relative path to an absolute path. You can also find and replace XREFs, which is very useful should newer versions of your existing XREFs need to be brought in to the host drawing.

Object selection

In previous versions of AutoCAD, you could select a group of objects with a window or crossing selection, then pan them off screen, and when you panned back to the original position in the drawing, those selected objects that were panned off the screen were deselected. Frustrating, right? AutoCAD 2018 now keeps those off screen objects selected, even if you do pan them off screen.

High resolution (4K) monitor support

AutoCAD 2018 now supports high-res monitors and screens making sure that the AutoCAD 2018 user gets the best possible experience on 4K displays and higher. Numerous typical AutoCAD user interface functions, such as the Start tab, Command line, palettes, dialog boxes, toolbars, ViewCube, pick pox, and grips, are scaled and displayed effectively using the 4K Windows setting.

On the surface, AutoCAD 2018 looks very much like AutoCAD 2017. The user interface is similar both in colour and layout, but surely that is what we want? I, for one, like the darker look and feel of AutoCAD, and I really appreciate the consistency and continuity of the user interface. Why re-invent the wheel and change it for changes sake? One thing I do like is that we have moved forward with the DWG version finally. It used to be a regular three year cycle for the DWG file format change, and improvements to the DWG can only be a good thing.

The subscription model is now also in full swing. I have just downloaded my version of AutoCAD 2018 over at http://manage.autodesk.com and it took no time at all over my fibre broadband. Sure I am spoilt with the fibre broadband, you may say, but the Autodesk Download Manager is much improved too. Use it where you can.

Overall, there are no big show-stoppers in AutoCAD 2018, but it is by no means a damp squib either. With the subscription model comes gradual, but regular, improvement to AutoCAD with subscription giving Autodesk the ability to roll out not only new releases but any service packs and hotfixes as well.

You can check out the official Autodesk AutoCAD 2018 blog here: –

http://blogs.autodesk.com/autocad/autocad-2018/

On a blatant self-promotional note, most of you know that I am an AutoCAD content creator for Lynda.com (slowly transitioning in to LinkedIn Learning) and you can find my AutoCAD 2018 Essential Training and AutoCAD 2018 New Features courses at the following websites: –

Lynda.com – https://www.lynda.com/Shaun-Bryant/4625210-1.html

LinkedIn Learning – https://www.linkedin.com/learning/instructors/shaun-bryant

Check out the courses if you wish, maybe even sign up to Lynda.com, or LinkedIn Learning not only for the AutoCAD 2018 titles but all of the other AutoCAD content available too!

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2016: Another trip around the sun….

Well, here we are again. Another year flies by, and we are all another year older, and some might say, another year wiser (albeit that might not be the case in some people I know, including me).

2016 has been a great year for me and the company professionally and I have moved forward with AutoCAD content creation bigtime with the lovely people at Lynda.com (which will slowly transition in to LinkedIn Learning). I have written numerous courses for them, both on AutoCAD and some Revit too. You can check them all out at my authors page over on Lynda.com.

Another Autodesk University (AU) has gone by where I had not one, but TWO classes this year! It is always great to teach there, meet up with old friends and colleagues, and make new friends and contacts. As they say, it is the the BIGGEST networking event for Autodesk users on the planet! And if you haven’t seen Las Vegas yet, it is a great opportunity to do so! Also, bear in mind that AU is expanding. Check out the website. There could be an AU near you real soon!

So, it just leaves me one thing to say in 2016.

I have many colleagues, friends and acquaintances all over the globe. I have met these people through my work, my training, my teaching, through Autodesk User Group International (AUGI) and through many other avenues, and I want to wish every single one of you a great New Years Eve and a prosperous 2017 wherever you are.

Remember that we only grow if we learn, we only expand if we meet and work with new people. Make 2017 that year where you grow and expand your horizons.

Wishing you all nothing but the best for the New Year.

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LYNDA.COM – Are YOU Certified Yet?

So, are you certified yet? No, I don’t mean certifiable, either! LOL.

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Autodesk offer a whole range of professional qualifications when it comes to their software. You can be an Autodesk Certified Professional in AutoCAD, for example. I am Certified in both AutoCAD and Revit Architecture. Autodesk provide examinations to get these Certifications and they reflect on your professional standing. The Professional certification assesses a user’s skills and knowledge of tools and features and common tasks performed in each of the Autodesk products.

As of February 2016, all Certified Professional examinations will be delivered by Certiport (www.certiport.com) via their web-based examination portal. Certiport offer all Certified Professionals digital badges for each respective qualification. The digital badges are web-enabled versions of the Professional qualification that give the user the ability to share their skills online in a way that is simple, trusted and can be easily verified in real time, by clicking on the badge in an email signature or on social media, such as Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.

Autodesk certifications are now some of the most requested qualifications by employers when searching for staff online. So the digital badge makes it easy for a potential employer to check out a Certified Professional’s ability with their respective Autodesk product. All they have to do is click on the digital badge to learn more about the user’s Autodesk skills. For example, the AutoCAD Certified Professional status demonstrates knowledge of dimensioning, basic drawing skills, using hatching and gradients, and more.

My course on Lynda.com, the AutoCAD Certified Professional Prep course, allows you to work through topics that enhance your existing AutoCAD skillset and assist you in preparing for your AutoCAD Certified Professional examination.

Check out the course here…..

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LYNDA.COM – Using the Command Line in AutoCAD

So there I was using WhatsApp to send a quick message to a colleague today, and I suddenly thought how much we use command lines, text boxes and prompts when we are using social media, especially when using communication tools such as LinkedIn, WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter from a smartphone or a tablet (or if you are really geeky, a phablet – you will understand if you are geeky enough, right?).

This got me thinking about how often I still use the command line in AutoCAD as well. I am a seasoned AutoCAD user with (now in 2016) twenty-seven years experience of Autodesk’s flagship product (I started on AutoCAD R10 for DOS – remember those five and a quarter inch floppy disks?). Now, I STILL use the command line. I still type certain commands and use keyboard shortcuts, due to my old DOS-based AutoCAD habits, and the AutoCAD command line is still there, still being the old faithful, ready and waiting to be used, even in the latest version of AutoCAD.

So, when you have a moment, check out that AutoCAD command line. It has a lot more to offer than you might think. Maybe use my Lynda.com course, Using the Command Line in AutoCAD, to discover some shortcuts and workarounds that will make you just that bit more productive at work. Who knows? You might even impress the boss or become AutoCAD guru for the day in the office!

LYNDA.COM link – Using the Command Line in AutoCAD

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AU2015 – Ten Questions

Scott Pawlowski, Chief of Cultural and Natural Resources, WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument

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(Scott Pawlowski on right of picture)

Autodesk University (AU) is a place to network and meet fellow peers and new people who work in the Autodesk world. I had the chance to meet Scott Pawlowski at the AutoCAD Blogger Social at AU2015 this year. The Autodesk Special Projects Team, which includes Pete Kelsey and Shaan Hurley worked with Scott to develop a full 3D digital model of the USS Arizona, one of the first ships to be sunk in Pearl Harbor on the island of Hawaii in WWII. We were privileged to see an amazing 3D print of the USS Arizona at the Blogger Social. The USS Arizona is an official WWII war grave and many technical, social and cultural considerations had to be taken in to account when the 3D surveying work was done by the team, which was mainly conducted under the surface of the waters of Pearl Harbor itself.

  1. What is your name and what role do you perform?

My name is Scott Pawlowski and I am Chief of Cultural and Natural Resources in the WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument (VALR). That is a polite title which describes that I look after cultural heritage and scientific research at VALR for the National Park Service.

  1. What is a typical day for you?

Pretty much every day is a new day and I get to work on anything from chewing pencils whilst filling out reports for program managers in the region to leading the park dive team. I also have to maintain my dive qualifications, as well as keep the ship looking good. Any day might include figuring out how to pay for preserving our nation’s cultural heritage in the national monument, or deciding which research focus is most needed for managing effectively. I often meet with donors who give family heirlooms to the national monument museum collection. The other day we were testing ROV equipment to image the ship better and we found that the entire electrics in the dock were not wired properly so we had to troubleshoot the system! It’s a very diverse position.

  1. Do you feel a sense of pride in all that you do?

Absolutely. In this place it is important to get everything right, rendering honor to those who perished and to those who think about them; families, friends and colleagues. It is great to get feedback, good or bad, when you are dealing with the memory of people who lived and died for their country. It is a great responsibility and knowing that you get it right, by the type of feedback we receive, gives a great sense of pride.

  1. How do you get to work each day?

Through the traffic, just like everyone else….in the party wagon, my late model Honda Civic, sometimes watching construction of the light rail system here on Hawaii.

  1. What (if any) Autodesk software do you use?

Almost exclusively, I use Autodesk Infrastructure Design Suite (IDS), but I am learning everything else like 123D Catch and 3ds Max. We also have a contractor using the Unity game engine for modeling and a touch of Autodesk Memento. To test the efficacy of the Autodesk software, we use CloudCompare as a counter point to see how accurate the Autodesk point clouds are.

  1. Name a project very close to your heart and why do you hold it in such high regard?

The USS Arizona digital check-up project is one of my most professionally enriching projects because of the partnerships with the fifteen project partners including Autodesk, the US Navy and US Coastguard, all helping over 1.7 million visitors understand what the resource is like here today. To herd fifteen different cats for a common goal valuable to our nation is pretty cool.

  1. Is your role challenging and if so, why?

It is challenging but in a positive way because the work requires both creativity and a lot of humanities, scientific and engineering background to get the day done. It’s nice to be in a profession where you get to think creatively a lot also.

  1. Name a group of people you have loved working with.

Working in Pearl Harbour for the last nine years has been really rewarding because of the number or really high quality people you get to work with, such as the Mobile Dive Salvage Unit One in Pearl Harbor and the 14th District Coastguard folks as well as other military units. However, Autodesk staff have also been spectacular to work with at the same level as all the other groups. That has been the cherry on the top of the sundae. I recently had the chance to say that to Carl Bass and anyone else who will listen to me.

  1. Do you have any habits or superstitions that you always stick to?

First thing in the morning, I try to sit down and be introspective about what I am going to do for the day. I also frequently clear my emergency regulator on my dive rig, but that is another necessary habit.

  1. Where would you like to be in ten year’s time?

Sitting on a beach in the Bahamas, in the Exuma Cays near Georgetown!

I would like to thank Scott for his precious time and patience on a mobile phone call from Hawaii to Glasgow (where I was working in my hotel room) as we went through the interview. The line was sketchy at best but we got through it! I have watched the USS Arizona project with interest from day one, and I have to say that the dedication and the ambition of all involved was incredible. The ship is a national monument to a war that decided our way of life as it is today, and the maintenance of the ship is imperative to ensure that it remains there for many more years for people to see and understand the sacrifice of all who served on her on that fateful day.

You can find more information using the links below: –

http://www.nps.gov/valr/index.htm

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EH7kYh6hR24

http://autodesk.blogs.com/between_the_lines/2014/07/3d-prints-of-uss-arizona-artifacts.html

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AU2015 – In the land of Lost Wages

So here I am again. Autodesk University 2015 (#AU2015) in the land of Lost Wages, or as it says on the map, Las Vegas. The land of beautiful sunrises, bright lights and an excess of crazy entertainment. And, you can gamble to your hearts content too.

Well, all of that aside, I am here attending Autodesk University (AU) again and I just want to impart my knowledge and experiences from AU to you, ranging from the opening keynote from Carl Bass to my thoughts on the AU event this year.

The first big event at AU is always the opening keynote from the head honcho over at Autodesk, Inc. Entering the keynote was like entering an Ibiza nightclub, with throbbing techno beats and mixes of chart hits. A big nightclub for the Autodesk nerds and geeks, you might say, with DJ’s doing their thing on the decks, under the bright lights.

Various sponsor ads adorned the big screens, including ads for AU sponsors such as Amazon Web Services, Lenovo and HP, along with an ad for Microsoft HoloLens from Autodesk VP, Lisa Campbell. You could book sessions with the HoloLens at AU, but these were booked up thick and fast from day one!

As I am sure you all know, the opening of the new Star Wars movie is upon us. The music in the arena changed to a jazzy Star Wars theme tune and out marched numerous Stormtroopers, escorting Autodesk darling and Technical Evangelist, Lynn Allen to the stage, ready to open the key note. As Donnie Gladfelter (The CAD Geek – http://thecadgeek.com/) quoted, she managed to outnerd 10,000 nerds. Check out the video on my Flickr account here: https://flic.kr/p/C3T4Wm.

As usual, Lynn introduced Carl Bass (CEO – Autodesk, Inc.) and thus the keynote began, which sets the theme of AU each year. Carl began with a company who have developed and created “dovetail” structural steel joints, followed by how amazing the new Apple HQ will be in Cupertino, CA, which has been designed by a well-known British architect, Norman Foster (http://www.fosterandpartners.com/). The Apple HQ is being built using pre-fabricated concrete panels which are ALL catalogued and monitored, even the ones in the car park! All using new and emerging technologies, where building and manufacturing are converging.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is beginning to get bigger, with machines diagnosing and repairing themselves. Bass talked of his experiences of getting his noisy lathe diagnosed with a smartphone strapped to it inside a ZipLok bag. His point was that it would be great if machines could listen to themselves and the diagnose the problem and fix themselves.

Bass continued to discuss the drought of talented people who think innovatively and in a certain way, and how to recruit those people. Bass used an example of drinks bars being available in the Facebook HQ on each floor. He said he found it odd that Facebook needed these kind of enticements to get staff and wondered if this was the best way to get people working for you.

Bass then went on to highlight some of the amazing projects that some of the Autodesk interns have worked on in the last year and how they wanted to work on things that mattered, instead of having the incentive of a drinks bar on each floor. The old way or recruiting is changing. Free food is not the big sell anymore, people want to work for companies who offer them the opportunities to work with passion and create their best work.

Bass then hands the stage to Andrew McAfee (MIT) who discusses what have been the most important developments in human history. Imagine that as a dinner party question at a dinner party full of geeks. What does the geek say?

The geek would turn the timeline in to a graph, and from that we can extrapolate that nothing has affected human development as much as the technology story and path. But what about the consequences? Trees cut down, killing whales, using children in factories….

McAfee went on to talk about a book by William S Jevons called The Coal Question, which raised the question of being healthier and wealthier, but the population was exploding. So innovation kicked in and what happened? As we moved forward, we used concrete instead of wood, kerosene instead of oil. This is known as dematerialization, where we are now past the point of peak use of raw materials, which is now a “profound trend”. We are now moving with large scale computerization to dematerialize with the investment in software and equipment going up year upon year. There is a bottomless quest for software and code to create more environmentally sustainable buildings using Autodesk software.

McAfee quoted that we have two remaining challenges: –

  1. Stop cooking the planet to avoid climate change
  2. The labour force is now doing less and less due to technology

These are important changes where we are seeing corporate profits going up and salaries going down, with the labour share of income getting lower and lower.

McAfee then went on to use two famous quotes to end his session; one from Winston Churchill in 1949 just after World War II and another from Freeman Dyson.

Jeff Kowalski (CTO – Autodesk, Inc.) then took the stage. His first quote was that in the next twenty years we will have more change than in the last 2,000 years with the next age being the AUGMENTED age, with computation systems that help, make, work and think. Tools we use will move from PASSIVE to GENERATIVE, using algorithms to develop many design ideas at once. He used the example of a panel design used for aircrew seating in an Airbus aircraft, that used generative design. It is changing aircrew seating by designing a lighter, stronger panel that saves 500,000 tonnes of steel in weight, thus reducing aircraft emissions to the equivalent of having 96,000 less cars on the road.

Kowalski then went on to state that we would start to use INTUITIVE design tools, such as advanced machine learning systems that remember and use patterns. They would then also be EMPATHIC by working with us, remembering our preferences. Kowalski closed with the example of Bishop, an Autodesk robot in the Autodesk Applied Sciences Lab, developing HIVE, a pavilion that is being designed by both human and robot, which was an exhibit at AU2015 this year.

Kowalski then handed the stage to what was to be a presentation that I, personally, found to be both amazing and inspirational. Dr Hugh Herr (MIT) builds prosthetic body parts. He is the most incredible human being. He lost his legs to frostbite when mountain climbing and after surgery, he asked if he would ever climb again. He was told no, so against all odds, he began to develop a set of new, bionic legs that would allow him to climb again.

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As Herr quoted, he used technology to heal himself and rehabilitate to the point where he is now actively climbing again using a set of bionic legs he has developed in the incredible field of bionics. Herr’s story is as inspiring as it is amazing, both with the human story and the incredible use of technology where he is using nano mapping of the brain and the body to develop robots to measure the body and design bespoke bionic body parts of each individual. As Herr quoted, without technology, he is a cripple, but with technology, he is free.

Kowalski then took the stage again, commenting on how we are now designing a nervous system connecting us to the objects around us; buildings, toys, cars. He used a humourous example of the drinks and snacks provided in Las Vegas hotel rooms where if you moved an item, the sensor under it charged it to your room. And speaking of Vegas hotels, housekeeping arriving at the wrong time. Maybe a sensor should be designed to let housekeeping know that you need privacy, such as when the shower is in use or when you are asleep, instead of the usual “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door handle. What sort of waving action should be used for a paper towel dispenser? Kowalski demonstrated, much to the amusement of his audience. Kowalski went on to talk about web designers designing down to pixel size and imagining that kind of information coming to you as a user of technology. Kowalski then went on to quote that we should be making “stuff that people want”.

Kowalski’s closing example of the use of technology was Bandito Bros, a crazy car company who develop cars that jump huge distances and loop the loop in real life, in the same way that our Hot Wheels used to when we were children. They are working with Autodesk, developing an intelligent car with a nervous system, calculating every move a car makes. The information gained allowed a generative car chassis to be developed and manufactured using Autodesk Dreamcatcher.

Kowalski closed the session with the quote:

The future….the AUGMENTED age”.

As always, I thoroughly enjoyed my time at AU this year. It is a time to learn, network and meet old friends and make new ones. A high point for me was the Blogger Social held by Shaan Hurley (Autodesk, Inc.). This year we were treated to a 3D print of the USS Arizona that was sunk in Pearl Harbour, Hawaii, in WW2. This was an Autodesk special project headed up by Pete Kelsey (Autodesk, Inc.) in conjunction with the US National Parks Service where LIDAR, photogrammetry and reality capture were used to create a 3D model of the sunken ship in order to monitor and maintain it. You can check out Shaan Hurley’s blog, Between The Lines, where he writes about the project here: http://autodesk.blogs.com/between_the_lines/2014/07/3d-prints-of-uss-arizona-artifacts.html.

Another great moment was the Autodesk User Group International (AUGI) Annual General Meeting (AGM). As a serving Director on the Board of Directors for AUGI, I can safely say that the organisation is very close to my heart, and this year, the presentation excelled with the use of Bob Bell’s lightsabre, combined with Kate “Leia” Morrical and Curt “Obi Wan” Moreno. The nerd humour in that half an hour made my AU. Total nerd humour at its best.

If you are yet to become an AUGI member, why not sign up? Just head on over to www.augi.com, and sign up for the Basic membership. It’s free forever and if you like it, consider a paid Premier ($25/annum) or Professional ($100/annum) membership later on to gain even more AUGI benefits such as the printed version of AUGIWorld magazine as a Professional AUGI member.

This was my ninth AU, and I have to say that whilst the Vegas lights and dry desert air can be somewhat intolerable at times (make sure you get a humidifier for your hotel room), the people attending more than make up for it. You can learn what you need from world class speakers, socialise with Autodesk rock stars such as Lynn Allen and Shaan Hurley and, most importantly, make contacts that often will stay with you for the rest of your working lifetime. I have made friendships at AU that, whilst based on a professional standing, will be friends for life. These are people that share my nerd humour and have become people that you can talk to about all things Autodesk, but can also share a beer or a coffee with as well.

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Another little bonus this year was the chance to jam with some of my Autodesk muso buddies too. On the Tuesday night of AU, we hopped out to the city limits to a small rehearsal space to crash out some tunage. We had the remarkable talents of Teresa, Casey, Anthony, Brian, Robert, Steve and Guillermo, plus myself, and we had a blast kicking out some classic rock tunes. My highlight of the night was performing lead vocal to ZZ Top’s Sharp Dressed Man…..

So, now back in the cold, grey UK, I do miss the bright lights of Vegas, but not for the same reasons some people do. I miss the Autodesk camaraderie, the nerd humour and the buzz of being in a place where approximately 10,000 other Autodesk nerds get together to learn, network and share (and maybe, just maybe, grab a beer or two!).

I have set up a Flickr account to upload all of my photos from AU, so check them out here.

Autodesk University Las Vegas 2016 will be held at The Venetian Hotel and Casino between November 15 – 17, 2016. So save the dates in your diaries!

Happy CADD’ing!

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