Autodesk University 2012

Autodesk University 2012 is just over 5 weeks away at this point and I thought that I would just write a few comments about it for those going to it or considering going to it.  If you are a user or manager of an Autodesk product, I highly recommend that you attend this annual conference which will be held in Las Vegas November 27-29, 2012 at Mandalay Bay.

This will be my 17th consecutive year to attend AU as I began attending in 1996.  I have seen this conference grow from a small group of attendees that had to fend for our lunch at area food vendors to a large conference with 9000+ attendees going through large lunch areas efficiently served as part of the conference.  In the early years, the conference floated around the United States, including my attending locations of Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Dallas.  It has been at various venues in Las Vegas since 2000, except for one year that it was held in Orlando.

This is a great conference for informative classes with a lot of knowledgable instructors. Autodesk puts a lot of support into this conference and sends a lot of technical personnel who attend classes.  While most of these Autodesk employees are not there to teach classes, they learn how users are utilizing their software.  There are also available for you to speak with and enable you direct access to managers and programmers of the software.  Since there are so many people in attendance (from around the world), it is great opportunity for networking with fellow users and making new friends.  There are some people that I only get to see once a year at AU, yet have contact with throughout the year, simply because I met them at AU.

Aside from finances, there are a couple of common reasons that companies tend to refuse to send employees to Autodesk University.  One is that management believes that attendees will spend most of their time doing Vegas activities.  The other reason is that many conferences are geared toward the exhibit hall with a few lectures or keynote speakers and management believes it will be a waste of time.  AU classess begin at 8:00 am and run until 6:30 pm.  After that, attendees can visit the exhibit hall to visit vendors (as well as some times during the day).  I have found that the vast majority of attendees take advantage of the classes and AU activities and get as much out of their AU experience as possible.  It is easy to find classes or roundtables to attend that will be beneficial regardless of experience level – from novice to manager.  This is also a great place to “pick the brain” of fellow users that may be addressing the same issues as yourself and your company.

If this is your first time to attend AU, the following are some things to consider.

  • AU typically provides you with some kind of a bag.  For several years, it was a backpack or roller bag, but lately it has been a smaller bag.  If you plan on using this as a carry-on for the flight home, make sure that you mark the bag in some way as there will likely be MANY of these same bags in the overhead bins of your flight home.
  • You will get freebies, such as t-shirts and other items, so make sure that you have room to pack stuff home.
  • Make sure that you take the class handouts with you.  You may choose to print them out or take them electronically.  An iPad or other tablet is a great tool to have with you in order to have the handouts with you.  Regardless, it is great to actually have the class handouts.  Some instructors really follow their handouts and some seem to teach information completely different than is in the handout.
  • Don’t take a laptop unless you really need one.  An iPad or other tablet is great, but I have found from experience that a laptop is something heavy to pack around all day and is rarely used.  While it seems like a good idea, a day at AU gets to be really long while packing around a laptop.
  • Sign up for Twitter if you haven’t already and follow @AutodeskU.  They will pass along good information during the conference.
  • Take business cards with you.  They are great for both networking with users and for using at vendor booths.
  • Noon meals are a great opportunity to meet people.  When you get your food from the buffet lines and find a table, introduce yourself to all of the others at your table.  That is a great opportunity to talk with people from various disciplines and various countries.
  • Don’t fill your pockets and bag full of the snacks at the afternoon break.  Leave some for those people getting out of class a little late or who are networking with others that were in their class.  Courtesy please.
  • Visit the vendors that are in the exhibit hall.  They are a great resource for learning about new products or items that may be beneficial to you or your company.  They also spend a LOT of money to be there.
  • Wear comfortable shoes.  You will do a LOT of walking throughout the day.

This is my 5th year to be a presenter at AU as I will be conducting 2 classes that are Revit oriented.  I would love to have you attend one of the classes if you are using or interested in Revit.  The classes are CM1847 Migrating AutoCAD Standards to Revit and AB1851 Optimizing the Design Development Stage using Revit Architecture.  I am looking forward to presenting both classes!

Check out Autodesk University at au.autodesk.com

If you see me there, say “Hi” to me.

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