There is an old saying that bricks and mortar make a solid foundation. Yes, they do, but it’s the mortar that holds it all together. Mortar is made from three constituents; sand, cement and water. Without any of these three ingredients, the mortar is useless, and the bricks won’t bind together. Hold that thought for a moment and you’ll see why I mentioned it later.
This time last week was the week of Autodesk University (AU) London 2018 where I was in the privileged position of being the only speaker with an AutoCAD class at the event. The temperatures were cooler than the insane heat in London last year at AU London 2017 (the temperatures were the hottest London had seen for over 70 years), and Autodesk used much more of the Tobacco Dock location this year with many rooms being used on the lower levels (the original dock cellars) where it was much cooler. I enjoyed a morning coffee down there on the Tuesday and it was a lovely experience. Slightly off the beaten track, it was quieter, cooler and with the delightful English summer sunshine and it was quite relaxing, I have to say.
AU London ran over two days; 19th and 20th June, Tuesday and Wednesday. The usual AU agenda was in place with keynotes, classes and the regular breaks in between where delegates could meander from their classrooms between Exhibition Hall 1 and Exhibition Hall 2, checking out the wares of resellers, third-party developers and consultants and the usual hardware providers. There was also the AU party on the Tuesday night, where all attending could socialise and network to their hearts content.
All in all, AU London 2018 was a great event. What I love to see is the usual initial AU ‘buzz’, just on a smaller scale than the signature AU in Las Vegas in the USA. The AU keynote this time was excellent with a superb presentation from Jaimie Johnston, Head of Global Systems at Brydon Wood, where he showed us the amazing refurbishment work being done on the London Underground using Autodesk software.
However much I enjoyed the keynote, I’m an old school civil and structural engineer, and in a previous life, I worked on numerous engineering projects, so I have an enquiring mind when it comes to engineering of any sort. I love to know about workflows and what software got you to this part of the project and so on. A lot of Autodesk keynotes nowadays don’t tell you that and this one was no exception. Dynamo was mentioned but that was about it. There were none of those slides with the big arrows and the Autodesk product box graphics, saying that this Autodesk product helped us to get here, and then we used this Autodesk product to do this. Remember those? Sometimes, the AU keynotes are a bit too high level (in my humble opinion). The audience are there to see HOW to use those processes and understand the workflows being presented. They need to know which Autodesk products to use too.
Tuesday morning flew by, and as a speaker, my solitary AutoCAD class on Express Tools Workflow was on the Tuesday afternoon. The graveyard shift in the AU timeslot just before the AU party started. I wasn’t holding out for a big audience but to my surprise, two thirds of the room was full, and the audience were animated, inquisitive and a pleasure to present to. Not only that, EVERY delegate that attended came up at the end and asked for a business card. Now, in all my years of presenting at any AU, that was a first. I actually ran out of my daily quota of business cards in my class!
I also had some lovely reviews of my class too: –
“Best class I attended, thanks Shaun”
“….whilst many of these other technologies are fantastic, we forget that keeping it simple i.e. AutoCAD, can often be better”.
The rest of my AU London was spent networking and (on the Tuesday night) socialising with new contacts, old friends and colleagues. As an Autodesk Expert Elite, I enjoyed the hospitality of Katinka Sante, Joe Travis and Rachel Rosenkrantz from Autodesk, so a special thank you to all, and I am glad you all got to partake of the legendary English beverage called Pimm’s at the AU party! As they say, it was Pimm’s o’clock, right? I also thoroughly enjoyed my Wednesday at the Autodesk Answer Bar, talking to both delegates and Autodesk staff alike, providing answers where required, and discussing all things Autodesk.
Another highlight for me was seeing so many schoolchildren and college students at AU London. These children are the future of ‘making anything’. Their enthusiasm and inquisitive minds makes for a formidable combination. I had the pleasure of meeting Sarah O’Rourke from the Tinkercad team at Autodesk, whose support when writing the ‘Tinkercad for Dummies’ book was invaluable. Tinkercad is an amazing entry level 3D modelling tool that schoolchildren can use and is now being used intensively in engineering education in schools globally.
I’m also a bit of a petrolhead, so here’s a funny story for you. As you all know, I love to chat and talk and sometimes a bit too much. I bumped in to Matt Bell, Global Strategic Partnerships Manager, outside the Tobacco Dock building during the AU party. Matt is a good friend and Autodesk colleague. I start the usual pleasantries, but he gestures for me to keep quiet with the ‘shh’ (finger on lips) gesture, only for me to realise that David Coulthard, famous Formula 1 driver, is standing right next to him, talking to him. I smiled and caught up with him later. Not David Coulthard, Matt Bell! David Coulthard was there as the leadership speaker at AU London and to promote the F1 In Schools program that Autodesk endorses. He partook of the F1 challenge that was set up outside on the quayside to promote the F1 In Schools initiative. I’m pretty sure that ALL the younger members of the F1 In Schools were excited and inspired by the presence of a real F1 driver at their event!
So, speaking of inspiration. I am glad I was able to inspire AutoCAD users in my AutoCAD class at AU London. That inspiration acts as a foundation for them to build on their AutoCAD knowledge and become more proficient and productive in their roles using the AutoCAD software. So now let’s go back to the bricks and mortar. Mortar is the thing that holds all the bricks together. The sand, cement and water. Well, all three are important. Relate that to Autodesk products. Back in the day, AutoCAD was the ONLY Autodesk ‘hero’ product, hence the name AutoCAD. It is derived from the name of the company, Autodesk. It was their FOUNDATION product. Autodesk now has many ‘hero’ products, but ALL are equally important. They ALL generate business for Autodesk and provide a solid foundation to ‘make anything’.
Therefore, I saw myself as a privileged speaker at AU London this year. I was the ONLY AutoCAD class. I represented AutoCAD at AU London, with AutoCAD being one of those key components holding it all together. AutoCAD is one of the components of the mortar that holds Autodesk together. Long live AutoCAD.
(Above photo courtesy of Clint Brown – @ClintBrown3D on Twitter)