Tag Archives: networking

AU London 2018 – Long live AutoCAD!

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.

IMG_0615

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!

IMG_0613

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.

AutoCAD_LegoFigures_ClintBrown

(Above photo courtesy of Clint Brown – @ClintBrown3D on Twitter)

Happy AutoCAD’ing!

SCB.

 

Advertisements

Not Just CAD! – January 2018 – 30 Years

So, here we are. Nearly at the end of the first month of another year. Christmas is done and the tree is outside looking a bit sorry for itself (awaiting recycling – save the planet, right?). New Year’s Eve has been and gone and Auld Lang Syne is just another memory.

I know this blog is late and there is reason for that. One is the awful lurghi that has been going around that provided me with a snot-filled Christmas and New Year whether I liked it or not, and two, January for me has been incredibly busy for once. and, hey, I also just wanted to get bedded in to the New Year this time too. I don’t know about everyone else, but it has been a struggle to get started this year. Anyone else felt like that about 2018?

Luckily, 2017 for me (and CADFMconsultants – www.cadfmconsult.co.uk) was a great year. Numerous courses for LinkedIn Learning (using Lynda.com content) were recorded, produced and released with another two trips to the LinkedIn offices in Carpinteria (often referred to as Carp). I was invited by Autodesk to be the AutoCAD expert on the AutoCAD booth at the inaugural Autodesk University London 2017 and I became an Autodesk University Speaker Mentor as well as being invited to become a member of the Autodesk Expert Elite program. Busy, huh?

For those of you that don’t know (and if you don’t, where HAVE you been?), I am an [in]structor for LinkedIn Learning, previously Lynda.com and I now have over fifty online courses in my online training portfolio. You can check them out at www.lynda.com and look me up there, Shaun Bryant. Or if you prefer to use LinkedIn Learning, look me up at https://learning.linkedin.com. My LinkedIn Learning author page is here. Both sites contain ALL my courses for you to learn from.

After reading this post, maybe drop me a line at shaun.bryant@cadfmconsult.co.uk. The first few who do and mention Not Just CAD! – January 2018 in their email subject line might get a nice little LinkedIn voucher that gets them some FREE learning!

So, about 2017….

The inaugural Autodesk University London 2017 was a scorcher in several ways. Firstly, I was made up to be the AutoCAD expert at the event (many thanks Tracy, Tanya and Jacqui!). Secondly, it was held on the HOTTEST two days of June 2017, which at Tobacco Dock in London (the event venue), made for insane temperatures as it is a glass-clad building! The event was a huge success and I was even Lynn Allen’s understudy as she could not attend the event due to illness. It was an honour to stand in for Lynn, Autodesk’s AutoCAD technical evangelist, teaching her two AutoCAD classes to the masses!

As 2017 progressed, there was the usual request for proposals for Autodesk University (AU) 2018, held in the delightful location of Las Vegas (sometimes known as Lost Wages), Nevada.

I was lucky enough to get one of my AutoCAD class proposals accepted and become a lab assistant for one of my good friends, who was also speaking, Paul Munford (CAD Setter Out – https://cadsetterout.com/). I was also asked to be an Autodesk University Speaker Mentor, where I mentored a novice speaker on how to create and submit their AU class presentation and handout, plus advise them on speaker techniques, taking advantage of my expertise and experience of being a veteran AU speaker. My mentee was Dr. Munirajulu from the Chennai area in India (https://www.linkedin.com/in/dr-munirajulu-m-3901a219). I had a great time imparting expertise and knowledge to him, and considering he had never spoken at AU before, he absolutely rocked his AU class too!

IMG_0208

As usual, towards the end of 2017, everything becomes about AU in Vegas, but I was lucky to get out to the LinkedIn offices in Carp in California the week before AU to record some of my online material. This is normally a relaxed (but busy) week and I was even able to get my five-kilometre walk along Carp State Beach in on the Sunday morning before I started recording in my little whisper booth on the Carp campus for the week. I love travelling to Carp too. I fly in to LAX and then take the Amtrak up the stunning California coastline from LA’s Union Station, which has the most beautiful architecture.

Carp was wonderful as usual, but sadly, due to the Thomas fire in December 2017, a lot of the stunning scenery has been burnt to a crisp and been decimated by the landslides that followed. Some of my LinkedIn colleagues lost their homes and the offices were close to being lost a couple of times too. The picture below gives you a good idea of how close the fires were to the Carp campus! Luckily, things are now moving back to normal, but there is a big clean-up operation and lots of rebuilding to do in the area.

LiL-Thomas Fire-Dec 2017

After my week in Carp, I flew out to Vegas from LAX for AU. I even bumped in to the bass player from an old eighties big-hair rock band called RATT who sat next to me on the plane and we chatted for the whole flight, sharing music anecdotes and war stories. The conversation even got around to which were the best guitar strings to use!

I got in to Vegas on the Saturday before AU, so I was able to chill out until the ‘insanity’ began on the following Monday. Being a seasoned AU attendee (this was my eleventh AU), I know the territory, so I got everything prepped and got ready to work the LinkedIn Learning booth in the AU exhibition hall. Have you ever been to a conference where ten thousand Autodesk geeks are all in the same place? Yep, that’s the ‘insanity’ I mean.

As an AU exhibitor, LinkedIn Learning were offering a 90-day free ‘pass’ for various Autodesk courses, mine included, so check out this link here, as the offer still stands until February 14th, 2018!

https://learning.linkedin.com/blog/whats-new/why-we-are-giving-away-40-autodesk-courses-for-free-for-90-days

AU kicked in and my class went well. Manning the LinkedIn Learning booth was busy, and we had a professional photographer taking portrait shots to enhance your LinkedIn profile!

IMG_0192

At AU, I also assume the role of an AutoCAD Influencer. This normally involves attending the Influencer food and drinks event at AU and getting to see something very cool related to design in AutoCAD. It is Autodesk’s way of saying thank you to all us AutoCAD’ers for all our work with AutoCAD over the years. This time it was not only getting to see the Cirque Du Soleil show, Ka (https://www.cirquedusoleil.com/ka), but also getting to go behind the scenes of the show the following morning! This was geek heaven for me. Not only was Ka an amazing show with incredible effects (including the free-floating stage), but it was ALL designed in AutoCAD too.

It was great to see all the AutoCAD Autodeskers there at the Influencers event, such as Shaan Hurley, Lynn AllenHeidi HewettRob McGuire, Marielle Covington, and Marcus O’Brien. Even longtime AutoCAD team member Jon Page came along. Thank you, AutoCAD team, for what was a wonderful evening watching Ka, followed by an amazing tour behind the scenes!

Finally in 2017, there was the thrill of becoming an Autodesk Expert Elite.

To quote the Autodesk website (https://www.autodesk.com/expert-elite/about) : –

‘The Autodesk Expert Elite program was created to recognize customers around the world who have contributed a significant amount of time, knowledge, and assistance to our customer support community. These people have demonstrated a strong sense of leadership and use an engaging style of collaboration that contributes to a healthy and valuable customer community’

There are over 400 Expert Elites in 53 different countries who use EVERY Autodesk product imaginable and I am thrilled to have joined their ranks. I was able to attend Expert Elite meetings and the Expert Elite Global Summit at AU and sit in the same room as Andrew Anagnost, the new CEO of Autodesk, and listen to what he has to say about the future of Autodesk and its software. As they say, the future is bright.

2018 is my thirtieth year of using AutoCAD (yep, you got that right – thirtieth). I started on AutoCAD 10 for MS-DOS at the tender age of eighteen (showing my age now…LOL) and I have seen AutoCAD go from a clunky, monochrome drafting system to a refined, capable design tool, that allows you in to work in both 2D and 3D and take your designs further, with interfaces that link seamlessly with other Autodesk products, enhancing the entire design workflow for just about every type of design and discipline imaginable.

I am proud to work closely with Autodesk, one of the biggest software providers in the world, and impart my knowledge of AutoCAD (and Revit) as an [in]structor on LinkedIn Learning to users all over the world. My passion is to educate and encourage learning. Learning never stops, and I can safely say that I still find things in AutoCAD that I did not know existed. Workflows that I have never noticed that can make you work smarter and faster. Shortcuts that make you that little bit quicker.

So, to celebrate my 30 years of AutoCAD, I am going to go and learn something new. A new challenge, a new string to my bow for 2018, using my LinkedIn Learning account. I sincerely hope that you will all do the same!

Here’s to a newly learnt skill for all of us in 2018. I hope you all have a great year, and if I bump in to you and any event, class or conference, say hello!

Happy learning!

SCB.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

IMG_3614

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.

IMG_3598

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!

SCB