December 05, 2005
Autodesk University 2005 Report
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor


by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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About this Issue….


Welcome to AECWeekly! The theme of Tuesday's MainStage presentation at Autodesk University 2005, held at the Walt Disney Swan and Dolphin Hotels in Orlando, was “Realize Ideas.” A good theme to have while visiting the world's most famous theme park. Autodesk's theme throughout the conference was that the way to realize those ideas was to embrace 3D--not necessarily for everyone, but definitely for more users than once imagined. Another theme was lifecycle management, never before pushed on all fronts quite as heavily as it was at this conference. On the horizon, we are glimpsing a greater computing power in the future to make all this quite possible, and also an answer
to storage problems in the shape of Microsoft's not yet released Vista.


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Susan Smith, Managing Editor


Industry News


Autodesk University 2005 Report


The theme of Tuesday's MainStage presentation at Autodesk University 2005, held at the Walt Disney Swan and Dolphin Hotels in Orlando, was “Realize Ideas.” A good theme to have while visiting the world's most famous theme park. Autodesk's theme throughout the conference was that the way to realize those ideas was to embrace 3D, not necessarily for everyone, but definitely for more users than once imagined. Another theme was lifecycle management, never before pushed on all fronts quite as heavily as it was at this conference. On the horizon, we are glimpsing a greater computing power in the future to make all this quite possible, and also an answer to storage problems in the
shape of Microsoft's not yet released Vista.


The tone of the conference was quite different from previous years, when it was held in Las Vegas. First of all, Autodesk could draw heavily from the theme park location and the concept of play. The presentations were laced with quite a bit of humor, some planned, and some completely spontaneous. Also, there was not one power point presentation given during the entire two and a half to three hour presentation. Instead, the focus was on the speaker, backed up by an expanse of blue screen that stretched the length of the stage, displaying key issues in text and images that the speaker referenced.


Technical evangelist Lynn Allen said that Autodesk's media and entertainment customers were “here for the first time this year.” Not surprising, given the location and the fact that Disney uses a lot of very high technology to design and implement their attractions, including 3D modeling. Later, CEO and Chairman of the Board and President of Autodesk Carol Bartz described the rides at Disney World as “not just rides-Disney is in the emotional transportation business, they are trying to grab you along the way.”


Many customers are moving to 3D now, reported Allen, who also cited networking as very important to attendees. In that vein, AU now has a matchmaking site called AU Connect where attendees could make connections before coming to the conference. There were 400 AU courses this year, and about 100 of them have been recorded on AU Online.


Carol Bartz


Carol Bartz is well known to everyone who attends AU as a very dynamic, powerful woman and leader, but this year she has made a number of notable lists as those qualities have come to public attention. Fortune Magazine named her one of most powerful women in business. Bartz said self deprecatingly, “You live long enough and someone puts you on a list.”

Carol Bartz
Carol Bartz

She thanked AUGI board members who come out to San Rafael to meet with Autodesk to be instrumental in product development. Over 100 vendors exhibited in the exhibit hall, and there were around 5,000 attendees this year. There were also a lot more press than I've seen at past events.


One of the goals of the company is to be the “best Information network for design professionals anywhere in the planet.” 2D is still very important, said Bartz, and reminded attendees of what it was like moving from the drawing board to CAD. She predicted that “the move to 3D will be bigger and more beneficial than the move from the drawing to 2D drafting on CAD.” She was also sympathetic to how hard it was t o make big changes in process and how Autodesk would be there to help make that change.


Bartz stressed keeping information in 3D digital format rather than in various analog formats all over an organization. She cited how the product Buzzsaw was so valuable because users can get up on it and be useful in one day. Most users are using it for collaboration, program data management and bid tracking.


She talked a lot about change in relation to the transition from 2D to 3D- how it is a “senior to freshman problem.” Bartz has a senior daughter who is about to become a freshman in college. “A senior who is about to become a freshman, that's how you feel when you know 2D CAD, know it inside and out, and now you're supposed to use Inventor. It's a huge unsettling job. We want to make sure we walk with you and invest our time with you.”


Although empathy is not on the feature list, Bartz said, “I want to make sure that we're paying attention to what it takes to help you go through these transitions.” She noted that Lynn Allen is doing a class on making the transition from 2D to 3D, and confided “it was hard for her at first.”


“Making the move from 2D to 3D means doing things differently,” said Bartz. “You will have more power at your fingertips and be ready for the 21st century. If your organization isn't joining the digital world, inevitably you will lose.”


She laughed about the “7 legal million users” and “35-75 million illegal users” who need to “create, manage and share.” Her parting words of wisdom were that, “The future for you might not be today, but the inevitable is coming.”


Carl Bass--COO and Chief Technology Guru


One of the funnier moments was completely unplanned (I couldn't imagine any major software company writing this into their opening session script) was when Carl Bass came up to speak and found that he had piece of yellow paper (one of the flyers left on the seats) prominently stuck to his backside.


Carl Bass--COO and Chief Technology Guru
Carl Bass, COO and Chief Technology Guru
Bass moved beyond that hilarious moment back to technology, stating that with regard to adopting technology, everyone is expected to do more with less in the face of enormous competition. “Everyone is being asked to speed up, cut costs, compete more effectively on a global basis,” concluded Bass. “Relentless pressure is causing boundaries to break down across geographic locations. We need to help design information flow smoothly across these boundaries.”


Companies will be pushing for a connected process so people can work together. “This is a world where the companies who are connected will prosper,” Bass predicted. “The best way Autodesk can help realize this multidisciplinary, connected process is to provide collaboration tools that create manage and share.”


How to get there? Start with model based design and make 3D digital models. “What is important about them (digital models) is they look and behave as real world products and buildings and infrastructure. Every year we come back and see it more completely realized. Once an idea is realized, it must be maintained and needs to update everywhere else - lifecycle management. Having the right information in the hands of the right person at the right time, all these processes can be put online and accelerated. An important element of speeding up processes is enabling the modeling design of those users downstream.”


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