Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Autodesk University 2006 - My "Impressions"

Wow, what can I say? My first AU was very awesome! It was held at The Venetian in Las Vegas, NV during the last week of November. The Civil 3D and Map 3D sessions that I attended were all very good and I learned at least one new trick in each class. Some classes were somewhat overwhelming in what and how much information was shown and when those type of classes were held back-to-back-to-back, well, I just had to take a break and recoop my thoughts at the blackjack table ;-). All good information though and you would think an hour-and-half for a session would be more than adequate, but some sessions could have easily been half a day. But I understand the general premise, wet the appetite so you come back for more. And also to get folks energized, creating, and figuring things out on their own.

I highly recommend attending Autodesk University at least once. If you haven't been before, you are missing out. If your company has a yearly budget for training, have them set some extra $$$ aside for next year to send you or one of your work buddies (or preferrbly send everyone if they can afford it :-0 ). You will more than likely get a high return on your investment. All of the presenters were very enthusiastic and passionate about their particular topic, and it showed through during their lectures. Everyone was very helpful after the sessions too by fielding and answering questions. I actually kept a couple of the Autodesk GIS experts from having lunch on-time after the "Map 3D for Civil 3D Users" class because I had a few "innocent" questions for them (sorry Mark and Brad - thanks again for your time).

I am pretty motivated after this conference to get things rolling and back on-track at my office concerning Civil 3D, not that we are that far off. I'd conservatively estimate that our Civil department staff is in the top 20% among current Civil 3D users worldwide. I don't how I exactly quantify that; its just my gut feeling after speaking with people from other firms and seeing where they are at in the implementation process. But more can be done at Clark Nexsen to standardize and implement... much more. Some of our Civil 3D project tasks include continuing to generate DTM surfaces, from which we perform grading and earthwork calculations, and generating profiles and cross-sections for site analysis. We have started to develop storm drainage, sanitary sewer, and water distribution Pipe Networks on a few of our projects and are looking for ways to mesh the Hydrology & Hydrualics design in as part of this process (got some great ideas on this at AU). And our Transportation department is having nice success using Corridor modeling to develop roadways, especially after Service Pack 3 was released (thanks Autodesk!).

The process workflow has been a natural progression from Land Desktop for our more experienced users. And the process should be easy enough for new users who do not carry along all of the old DCA / Softdesk / Land Desktop baggage like some of us old dinosaurs (hey now... I'm not 40 just yet!). I believe we are now just starting to get into a rhythm with our C3D design workflow...and all without Vault too! (thanks again Autodesk for fixing Data Shortcuts in SP3 - works like a CHAMP!)

I personally am more confident about my knowledge level and capabilites after attending AU. I've been in the industry for 20 years and new technologies never ever cease to amaze me. While meeting other users, I saw we are certainly not alone in our successes, failures, and wishes - we are all in this together. This is another part of the AU conference that was invaluable; meeting your peers and sharing experiences to better ourselves and letting software developers know the tools we need today to do our work. And not just to do our work, but to complete our projects accurately and efficiently, while having fun in the process.

One day someone will end up developing the "Do Project" button, where you click on the "Do Project" icon on your Windows Desktop, it starts running some sort of script in the background while you, with your headset on, verbally tell the computer some basic information about your project, AutoCAD opens along with a variety of other softwares in some sort of weird but well-thought-out design sequence, designs and drafts the job for you, creates a sheet set DWF, then asks you to which printer would you like to print your final drawings... and VOILA! - your project is complete, start to finish - one button. Yeah right, keep dreaming!

Oh yeah, one more thing I learned at AU - Don't hit on 18! A-2-5 totals 8, but also totals 18. All I saw at the time was 8 (one too many free drinks). What an idiot I am! But believe it or not I got away with it that time.