Another November has gone by and with it another Autodesk University. Reflecting, I am struck by the growth that this event has seen over the years. I first started attending AU in the early 1990's. My first AU was in San Francisco when it was held at the Moscone Center. After that there were others - Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Dallas. Each of those entailed attendees staying in multiple hotels, having to ride a shuttle bus or walk to the convention facilities. The year it was in Dallas (for me, anyway), was the year that they tried to do "regional" events, with four AU's being held in four different cities. That didn't work out too well, so the next year, if I recall correctly, there was a plan to do an "on-line" "virtual" AU. Feedback was strong that if there wasn't any networking and if it wasn't held at a physical location, "attendance" would be weak. That led to an eleventh hour scramble to get a "real" AU set up. By that time, the only place/time available for such an event was Las Vegas, the MGM Grand Hotel, the week after Thanksgiving. I suspect the organizers were a bit skeptical about the potential success of such timing, but in reality it turned out to be the most successful AU to date (this was in 2000), and I would argue that holding it in Las Vegas at that time was what helped launch AU into the mega-event that it has become. Since that event, which was the first one that I spoke at, AU has consistently grown. The numbers I've seen for this last AU (held at the Venetian in Las Vegas) indicate that there were on the order of 7,500 attendees!
The logistics of organizing and holding an event of that magnitude are mind-boggling. My compliments to Lynn Allen and all of the others at Autodesk who put this stellar conference together. As a speaker, I've always found dealing with Joseph Wurcher and his staff a pleasure. They are professional, prompt, accommodating and downright nice! The audio/visual and technical support staff are always Johnny-on-the-spot if there are any glitches during a presentation and quick to come up with a resolution, although my experience has been that glitches are rare. Truly a professional bunch to deal with.
This year I taught SIX classes, which was a personal record, and served as a lab assistant for Dennis McNeal's ADT Details class. Consequently I couldn't spend the time actually attending class or networking that I would have liked to, but it was still a great AU!
The party Thursday night and the Blue Man Group performance was awesome - so much that when I got home I had to order their DVD online so my kids could see them also!
I hope if you attended AU and came to any of my classes you found them worthwhile. Next year I'll probably step things down a bit and not teach quite so many. I also plan on submitting titles on Revit as well as ADT for consideration.
Paul Aubin and I having dinner at the Grand Lux Cafe in The Venetian
My view from the podium Tuesday morning for the first class of the conference - 300+ people in the room!
The Blue Man Group performing for 7,000 of their closest friends Thursday night.
My youngest using my AU swag to do his imitation of "The Autodesk University Geek" :-)