Autodesk University 2016 Recap

We're now back home after a long week at Autodesk University (AU). It was another great year of catching up with old friends; meeting new people; and spending dedicated time thinking, mulling over, and evaluating Autodesk technology and workflows. Here are our top five takeaways.

Low on Gimmick & Glamour

Every AU has a fair amount of pomp and circumstance. Our impression, which was met with agreement from other attendees we met during the week, was that this year was a little different from previous years. The overall event was more simple and less complex. We didn't see any Storm Troopers. The Hive outside the exhibit hall was gone, replaced by an area intended for users to get answers and provide feedback on products. No more robotic bartender in the Exhibit Hall. It just felt like a simpler event.

While we think the recent election may have had some effect, we really think that the simplified format was Autodesk focusing on their message – we doubt they canceled the Storm Troopers at the last minute. From our perspective, we liked this approach because it felt more coherent.

Holy Dynamo!

Dynamo is turning into a big deal. Dynamo is a visual programming tool that aims to be accessible to both non-programmers and programmers alike. It gives users the ability to visually script behavior, define custom pieces of logic, and script. Dynamo is the epitome of working smarter: using code to automate the everyday actions of your own team or company's workflows. The after-hours Dynamo party was very well attended and demonstrated the growing and enthusiastic Dynamo user base.

The really interesting aspect of Dynamo is the comparison to the Forge platform. Dynamo is being engaged by large groups of users in very enthusiastic ways. Forge is similar to Dynamo because it is a new set of tools that can be leveraged to work smarter using connected cloud resources. But we don't see the enthusiasm for Forge that we see for Dynamo, which we find interesting.


Leica announced its latest LIDAR scanner, the BLK360. It's got a great price point at $16,000, has 4mm accuracy, and includes thermal sensors and a 360-degree camera. We think this is really exciting because the price point now leads the industry for an entry-level laser scanning product, but does so without compromising the specs.

The Lynn Allen Conspiracy

Lynn Allen ALWAYS gives an introduction at the Keynote. Not this year. Without Lynn Allen, we had no idea how many attendees from how many countries were there or how excited we should be. The story we heard was that she'd been abducted by either space aliens or activist investors. But we know the truth, which is a bit more nuanced. She was kidnapped by activist space alien investors. We should start a Kickstarter to free Lynn Allen.

The Wrap Up

We thought Autodesk University 2016 was a bit different than in previous years, but we did not feel like the event suffered because of the lack of gimmick or glamour. We do really enjoy hearing Carl Bass talk about the future of our architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) software workflows and regret that he didn't spend more time on the main stage. But overall, Autodesk University is really about people, connections, and time away from our desks to assess how we work, and we thought those aspects were unchanged this year, if not more vibrant. 

Last week, we mentioned how the work of BuildingSP intersects with many of the themes in Jeff Kowalski’s 2016 Autodesk University keynote. Over the next few days, we'll outline this with more definition so you can answer the question, "How does using GenMEP fit into my firm's strategy for artificial intelligence, generative design, and machine learning?"



As you may have noticed, we've been doing a lot of writing about the impact of computational BIM, generative design, and the future of how we work. One thing we haven't done is turn some of this thinking into more rigorous analysis. But now we're ready to do that! 

If you work for a general contractor, subcontractor, or design firm and want to collaborate on whitepapers that quantify how computational methods of working will change our industry, reach out to us and let’s talk about what we can do. We're open to collaborations worldwide and have lots of ways of measuring performance indicators to gain insight into change in our industry. Contact Brett Young at

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