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Autodesk University Rocks Out in Las Vegas

Pat Evans
By Pat Evans Contributing Editor, SME Media

Autodesk University in Las Vegas is like a party. But I’ve never left a party so inspired. Often, parties leave you exhausted and looking forward to a bit of rest—the same way an industry conference might leave you feeling after you return home. Fortunately, for those that made it to Autodesk University 2019, held Nov. 18-21, the inspiration was palpable and it’s hard to imagine anyone having left without a glint of innovation in their eyes.

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Attendees at Autodesk University in Las Vegas.

Prior to arriving at my first Autodesk show, I was told it is a conference with plenty of flair, yet I was still shocked by the DJ blasting house music and the strobe lights guiding the way to the main floor. Imagine my surprise when a drum line led Autodesk CEO Andrew Anagnost onto the stage.

Theatrics aside, the message Anagnost relayed the first morning and the message the conference left in the minds of attendees was one of hope and inspiration. In a time when there is so much cynicism, it’s a relief to hear those with some form of clout tell you a good future is still possible.

It was good to hear, for example, that automation and robots don’t represent the doom-and-gloom that science fiction has made them out to be, or that the media sometimes likes to portray. Actually, that’s a message that’s been a frequent theme at manufacturing conferences this year—perhaps we truly are on the edge of a new industrial revolution.

Regardless of where automation takes us, it’s a relief to know those at the forefront of the movement are telling us we have the ability to use the excess brain power saved by automation taking over menial tasks and using it to do bigger and better things. While we’re constantly reminded that the middle class is shrinking, it’s also good to hear that there’s more prosperity than ever before on Earth and that virtually anyone can obtain it—and that many of those less fortunate are still able to do things previous generations of any wealth level couldn’t imagine.

While many conferences could have a similar message, it was great to see the array of examples Autodesk marched out to showcase the innovation they have played a hand in.

From Build Change Forever’s mission of saving homes across the globe without changing the way native populations live to the wheels on a new electric VW bus to a new modular Marriott hotel in New York City, attendees were shown how even a major project can be made better for the world, its people, and the environment.

Reducing industry’s impact will not only be better for the environment, if done efficiently it will also be better for everyone’s bank accounts—even if it’s in another “galaxy,” in this case the galaxy at Disney World. If Disney World can focus on being better in creating a new Star Wars attraction, other industries can focus on being better too. Plus, the Star Wars presentation led to the DJ playing a remix of Darth Vader’s theme music—a memorable tune for nearly everyone!

And if all the other Autodesk perks and quirks weren’t enough, the conference also had a dog zone for attendees that just couldn’t leave their pets at home.

Editor’s note: To read Pat Evans’ full coverage of Autodesk 2019, visit

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