Autodesk University – Day One

Escalators FilledI’m in Las Vegas this week attending Autodesk University at the Venetian. I flew down last night, got settled into the nice room they gave me in Venetian tower (great view, by the way!), and spent some time getting acquainted with the hotel and adjacent Sands Expo Center. This place is huge!

The conference kicked off this morning with a keynote address from Autodesk CEO Carl Bass. He had a lot of interesting things to say, and also introduced several presentations from companies who use various Autodesk products (there are so many now). There’s a lot of really cool stuff being done, especially around the concept of 3D visualization – being able to see a very realistic rendition of something before it’s built.

One of the demonstrations involved a tool that the military was using to visualize areas in Baghdad before entering them for a mission. Several information sources from geospatial data (where the buildings are located), infrastructure (plumbing, electrical, sewage, etc.), lines of sight, etc. are all integrated into a 3D model that the commander can explore and analyze before taking his men in. I know there’s all sorts of cool technology being used in the military – this was just a small and very interesting sample.

Another demonstration showed techniques and tools being used to create a to-scale model of London for planning and visualization purposes. Now, Google Earth and just recently, Windows Live Maps both provide 3D views of major cities, with some even applying texture maps to the building models. However, this seemed to be much more intense and thorough, and had detail down to a very fine level (every chimney and tree in the whole city, etc.).

After the keynote all 7,500 or so attendees (there’s a TON of people down here) split for individual classes centered around whatever industry or tool you use. I attended a class about how to develop and implement successful CAD standards, another about a tool for digitizing scanned drawings (Autodesk Raster Design), and a third about centralizing AutoCAD/Architectural Desktop content on a network for multiple users to access. It’s all been interesting and useful so far….but I’m glad they’re recording the sessions and making them available online after the conference. Some of this stuff will take further review to fully understand and implement.

Anyways, I’ve been taking a bunch of pictures throughout the day, and have just created a Flickr photoset containing them all. If you’re interested in seeing photos from the conference (and a few misc. photos from around Vegas), you can access them at

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