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Susan Smith
Susan Smith
Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »

Autodesk University 2014 Opening Session Keynotes

December 2nd, 2014 by Susan Smith

Autodesk CTO Jeff Kowalksi opened the Mainstage Keynotes for Autodesk University 2014 held in Las Vegas, Nevada this morning, with the statement, “Our creations are more dead than alive.”

Jeff Kowalski, CTO, Autodesk

Jeff Kowalski, CTO, Autodesk

What does this challenging statement really mean? Does it mean that we are going to be building more roboticized buildings and other structures? Maybe our best bet at creating “living things” is going to come in the form of imitation, certainly not more than an imitation of life and life forms and patterns. There is research, for example, done on imitating human tissue for healing certain health situations. Perhaps all that is meant here is that we might be grafting of reality onto the digital world. When Kowalski said things “have a life of their own” we have a view of what we have created, what we have added to the built world, to art, to science. But it’s not living and breathing.

Kowalski talked about referring to the natural world for our ideas, really referring to “biomimicry” to gain design ideas. While nature “takes the best solution to a problem and iterates,” it alone has the ability to create living things.

”We are looking for breakthrough revolutionary outcomes,” said Kowalski. “We’re using machine algorithms to discover patterns inherent in millions of 3D models, and to identify components and relationships between them. We will have a tool that acts in a lifelike manner.”

Perhaps all he is really talking about roboticizing because tools can only “act in a lifelike manner;” they really can’t become real.

More was revealed in Kowalski’s talk. Products existing in a connected world should be aware of surroundings (intelligence) and be able to respond to them. Okay, that could be accomplished with sensors.

He talked about “generative design” and how that could be changing the way we design ultimately, infusing life into designs.

President and CEO Carl Bass furthered the discussion by talking about working with better data – that which captures the real world more fluidly.

“We’re breaking the glass that has separated the real world from the digital world in order to change the way things are made,” said Bass.

“How do we communicate the physical world to the computer? You don’t have much information unless you capture it in 3D,” he said. “A point cloud is a computable model to reason about what you’re designing.”

Carl Bass, CEO and President, Autodesk (at left)

Carl Bass, CEO and President, Autodesk (at left)

Bass noted that users can scan a model into Memento and can convert it from mesh to a 3D surface. The newest tools can handle giant point clouds with tens of billions of points. “We can now capture everything from really small parts to large infrastructure projects,” he said.

A360 was built in response to a need for a product that is specific to AEC and “better than DropBox,” according to Bass. Everyone attending AU has a free one year subscription to it.

“A360 digitizes the way you work together, and captures all activity in one place, an essential place to collaborate,” said Bass. “You don’t need a separate product to do it, it is built into all 360 products today and all our products of the future.”

“Fusion 360 provides the context to understand what’s going on in your project. The cloud provides a natural hub to see what needs to be changed and what needs to be done.”

Something named “GitHub” is being built for designers and engineers where changes can be merged once design differences have been resolved. This is a place where multiple people can collaborate on the same design at the same time. “Like Google Docs for designers and engineers, and not just about the cloud… but also about the computer…”

It can run on any platform. Autodesk has formed the Spark Foundation to develop 3D printing, and has a 3D printer of their own in the making, employing “open hardware, open software and open materials.” Orders for the Autodesk Ember printers are being taken now.

Emily Pilloton @ProjectHDesign talked about her work that transforms children’s lives and communities.

“I wanted to teach and build architecture that was rigorous and transformational for students and communities. Why do it in the first place? Why is this the time to do it?” questioned Pilloton.

One student, Karon, grew up in a racially troubled southern town of 500 people, attending a high school that did not serve him. “He came to my program as a junior in high school, and I came up with an assignment to design and build a piece of might look like, modeled it, worked under tight constraints both financial and structural, and we brought this building to life. It was built by sixteen year olds.”

“Karon had to take all he learned and bring his craft, care and love for the project to it.”

The farmers market was also an enterprise that became a source of pride for the entire town. 15 new jobs were created as a result of it. Karon is the first child in his family to go to college – he is studying engineering.

Pilloton also showcased a Berkeley, California school whose assignment was to build a library space for the school. It was a place for discovery and exploration.

“Every young person is a potential builder and creator, and this is a special and unique opportunity, special for those who are under estimated,” said Pilloton. In another example at summer camp, her girls leaned how to do woodwork and weld, and designed and built projects for those they love, as well as built an edible garden for a women’s shelter.

“The future will be built by small hands and big ideas for everyone,” said Pilloton.

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Categories: 2D, 3D, 3D PDF, 3D printing, Adobe, AEC, Apple, architecture, AutoCAD, Autodesk, BIM, Bluebeam, building information modeling, Cloud, collaboration, construction, consumerization, data archiving, field, field solutions, file sharing, IFC, infrastructure, integrated project delivery, mobile, mobile printing, point clouds, project management, reality capture, site planning, sustainable design, video

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