I made my annual pilgrimage to pay homage to the gods of BIM at Autodesk University 2013 (AU 2013) a couple of months ago. This 3-day annual software conference was held at the Venetian Hotel and Conference Center. Thousands of attendees from all over the world came to share professional experiences, learn from peers and other industries, and to see what Autodesk has in store for the future. Hundreds of classes and forums—ranging from Revit and CAD how-to’s for architects, to rapid prototyping techniques for industrial designers, to infrastructure and resource management for cities or municipalities. The diverse crowd included everyone from CAD drafters to Principals and CEO’s, representing all areas of design, entertainment and manufacturing.
The amazing things others accomplished with limited resources, or conversely, on an enormous scale, fascinated me. These innovations help improve quality of life, or bring communities closer together. These technologies save lives, or address our biggest challenges like climate change. Who wouldn’t get fired up? It triggers questions like, “How does this apply to my profession?” and, perhaps more poignantly...
“How can I make a difference like that, when I’m just a [insert title here]?"
In my case, that would be a BIM manager. But in these three short days, I received a massive dose of inspiration to think differently and find solutions… to not be just a BIM manager, but an Autodesk superhero, helping to make Williams + Paddon a better place, one workstation at a time!
I attended the “how-to” classes for Revit and CAD in past years, so this time I tried something different: a few classes directed at the entertainment industry. They did not disappoint! The CG industry has been managing vast amounts of content, complicated software workflows, and intense computing requirements for years; and some of their tools and insight definitely applies to our day-to-day project work, especially in the design and schematic phases.
One particularly cool application was an iPhone app created by Allegorithmic called “Bitmap 2 Material,” which allows you to take a picture of a material or pattern sample and turn it into a series of images you can use in your Revit, Sketchup and 3ds Max materials—a fantastic tool for reducing online material image searches. It allows you to effectively utilize a physical sample you have on hand or something you see around town. The image can be set to tile seamlessly, with special effects that might take hours to reproduce in Photoshop.
Typical buzz words were bandied about—“cloud”, “crowd”, “infinite computing”, “simulation”, “BIM to save the world”—but the truth behind those words became a little more real to me. The Autodesk-verse that is the Autodesk 360 cloud has been integrated into their AEC software products to provide a useful digital collaborative environment and cloud resource. Williams + Paddon currently uses these resources, but I will endeavor to implement more of the collaborative tools both in our office and out in the field, to improve the quality of our work and turnaround time.
Will my experiences at AU 2013 help cure a disease or reach past the limits of the human imagination? Who knows? But I do know it will make a difference to everyone I interact with. To see a co-worker smile when introduced to a new tool that shaves hours off an arduous task, or hear the “wow’s” after a presentation that far exceeded client expectations… that’s enough reward for me!