Autodesk University 2015 wrapped up in Las Vegas last week with more than 700 sessions and nearly 10,000 attendees—not to mention dancers, a DJ and a parade of Stormtroopers straight out of Star Wars. Opening speakers, including Carl Bass, Autodesk President and CEO, and Chief Technology Officer Jeff Kowalski, noted that technologies like the Internet of Things, robotics, augmented and virtual reality are changing the way we work.
"Generative design, additive manufacturing and the development of new materials are already transforming the shape of manufacturing," said Kowalski. To demonstrate, he shared a first look at a new "Bionic Partition" for Airbus—an onboard wall that weighs less than half the standard weight.
Autodesk CTO Jeff Kowalski shares the Bionic Partition for Airbus
Moving from passive to generative and then onto intuitive and empathic, Kowalski also expects that, instead of designers learning CAD, CAD will learn us. With that, and the convergence of building and manufacturing—long discussed, but now arrived—we have the opportunity to explore meaningful innovation—working through the details to make real innovation happen.
So, how do we incorporate all of these predictions for the future in our practices now? What's important? Bass suggests we'll need to reframe and re-examine our choices and thinking to consider a variety of issues such as whether or not we're working on the right problem and whether or not we can achieve energy efficiency in the making process as well as at end use. And, perhaps the most important consideration: how can we reframe our thinking about people. As Jeff Kowalski noted, "to shift our focus from making people want stuff to making stuff people want" but also to ensure that young, diverse and creative individuals have opportunities to enter the workforce.
Three Innovation Forums themed around "disruptions" explored inspirational case studies. For example, Joel Neidig, Developer and Technology Manager of Itamco, outlined how makers can bring together communication, design, community and augmented reality. Specializing in precision gear manufacturing, Itamco has manufactured robotic test joints that built the international space station for NASA, pump systems in response to Hurricane Katrina and mining trucks that utilize the Internet of Things by putting GPS, LIDAR and cameras into trucks to minimize haul truck mining accidents.
More than 200 exhibitors offered examples of new hardware and software, student designs, hands-on demos and opportunities to give back and make an impact through volunteer efforts. And, of course, there was the robot bartender…