Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Autodesk University 2010 – part I

Autodesk University (AU) took place last week in Las Vegas. Attendance (7000+) was up this year after a two-year decline, and the energy level was palpable. I felt it in the exhibit hall and in between the classroom sessions. While at AU, I delivered a Product Clinic in the form of a virtual class; the clinic was entitled “The Emergence of 3D Printing in AEC” and the content was based on the AIA Continuing Education course of a similar title. Attendees were able to see/hear the webcast and then ask questions in a live chat window. The AU folks plan to post these virtual classes for those who could not attend during the clinic time slots.

Aside from my “virtual speaking” class, here are some AU2010 observations - part I (part II next week):

In the opening general session, Autodesk CEO Carl Bass introduced six presenters from multiple industries (building, infrastructure, manufacturing, and entertainment) who described their recent projects around the theme of “making an impact.” The talks included interesting projects from Tesla Motors (Autodesk Alias styled electric car driven on stage), Project H Design (Autodesk AEC software presumably used), Bespoke Innovations (custom-designed and 3D-printed prosthetic devices), and the digital studio that made the new TRON movie (Autodesk Media & Entertainment software). Autodesk CTO Jeff Kowalski talked about the cloud or “infinite computing” and how it will change the way people design and simulate. The entire General Session is available here -

The building industry keynote was all about the use of BIM “assets” for downstream applications such as MEP system design, structural design/analysis, building performance analysis, construction scheduling, and efficient facility maintenance and operation. There was also a quick look at Project Vasari. Here is the description from Autodesk Labs web page …

Autodesk® Project Vasari is an easy-to-use, expressive design tool for creating building concepts. Vasari goes further, with integrated analysis for energy and carbon, providing design insight where the most important design decisions are made. And, when it’s time to move the design to production, simply bring your Vasari design data into the Autodesk® Revit® platform for BIM, ensuring clear execution of design intent.

Project Vasari is focused on conceptual building design using both geometric and parametric modeling. It supports performance-based design via integrated energy modeling and analysis features. This new technology preview is now available as a free download and trial on Autodesk Labs.

It will be interesting to see if this software can stop the Google SketchUp and Rhino momentum in the AEC market, and how Autodesk will choose to package and market this new conceptual design tool. So far, 80,000 downloads have been reported. You may recall an earlier guest blog in this space by Microsol’s Dolly Haardt showing how a conceptual massing model in Revit can be exported for 3D printing. As far as I understand, these are the design tools which are in Project Vasari.

More on AU2010 next week!