Wednesday, December 31, 2008

ORUG at Autodesk University 2008

This year we were happy to send one of our own members to Autodesk University, Andrew Murphy of Robert Murphy Architects. We hope to make this a yearly tradition! Andrew's photos were lost on his memory stick so if any of you who attended have some photos, please send them our way. (jpolding at Also, if you would like to share your experiences on this blog please send me the text and photos which I will post for you.

Andrew wrote down a few thoughts from his first experience at AU...

I have often heard it said that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. This need not be the case with Autodesk University 2008, which I recently had the good fortune to attend. Imagine five solid days immersed in the puzzling minutiae of your favorite AEC software…did I mention the AUGI Beer Bust?

I suppose I had always imagined that my first visit to Vegas would take the form of a bachelor party, riverboat gambling trip, title bout etc., however, an opportunity to attend Autodesk University seemed to be at once both exciting AND practical (in a way that a riverboat gambling trip did not).

Weeks before my departure date it was clear to me that I was not merely to attend AU, but rather to experience it. Emails filled my mailbox alerting me to an incredible range of events, keynotes, mixers, unplugged sessions, networking opportunities, and so on. Autodesk’s organization and attention to detail from start to finish were impressive.

As I learned that I would be making the trip rather close to the date, it was tricky to find space in the classes and labs that most interested me. The demand for REVIT and LEED-oriented classes seemed to far outweigh the proposed supply. Two sessions in particular, “Revit® Architecture: LEEDing the Way” and “Sustainability Tools for Revit® Architecture: The IES Sustainability Toolkit Plug-in”, appeared to have equal numbers registered and waitlisted. Despite being ‘waitlisted’ for many classes, I never had any trouble finding space on a first-come first-served basis, the above sessions included.

On the whole, the classes and labs were very well designed and equally well run, while the venue(The Venetian)was as ambitious as the itinerary of AU itself. To suggest that the classes were necessarily the highlight however would be untrue. The Opening Keynotes, General Session, and Design Slam, in my opinion, captured the heart of AU 2008.

On one hand, AU is definitely about improving one’s chops. For me, that meant classes in model management, Green Building, parametric families, custom stairs and railings among others. Simply put, attending classes, labs, and unplugged sessions to improve my technical skills was the goal of the trip. On the other hand there is something greater than the acquisition of a set of skills to be taken from AU. I think that the success of AU lay in the excitement and buzz which defined the event from start to finish. Leaving Las Vegas on Friday morning I was excited to get back to work, not because of anything the city had done, but because I was leaving with a new appreciation for what can be done with my software and also an appreciation for the ability of the Autodesk community to come together for collective gains.

For anyone interested in AU 2009 I would encourage you to make it out to the keynotes and evening events. The class materials and podcasts will be made available once you return, but the real excitement, the heart of the event, is to be found in the event halls beyond the classrooms.