Getting back from AU to an unpacked house and IKEA furniture to assemble is NOT fun. Necessary after a house move the week before I travelled to LinkedIn Learning for a week, followed by the insanity of AU, but most definitely NOT fun.
So, here I am, a month after AU, in the carnage of a semi-unpacked office (and house), writing my usual annual (and VERY late) AU blog. They say that an untidy office is the sign of an intelligent mind. I disagree. It is simply driving me nuts, but I digress.
I can safely say that my twelfth AU (2018) was my best AU so far. For the first time at AU, I felt fully accepted. I’m not sure why, but I did. Previous AU’s for me have always been met with a little trepidation. Will things go well in my classes? Will I have a laptop fry-up like Matt Murphy, or will all be OK? Well, I DID have issues at a technical level, but I overcame them. So, I have now had my AU baptism of fire and I made it through. Thanks to a great tech team at AU who got me through it, and the legendary ladies in the Speaker Ready Room (especially Patricia, who knows exactly why).
(Note to all, classroom internet is always useful for an AutoCAD web app class, but we sorted it and the class was delivered, so thanks to those great AU tech guys. You rock).
Autodesk University (AU) 2018 was my busiest AU ever. I had four classes to prepare for and teach. You just know it’s a bit crazy when you spend the Sunday before AU in your room in the Palazzo, creating FOUR PowerPoint presentations for your classes, right? They were done and submitted on time, I hasten to add!
As an AU Speaker Mentor, I had two mentees under me as their mentor in the AU Speaker Mentor program. The mentor program is now mandatory for first-time AU speakers and it is organised brilliantly by Matt Murphy, Janice Miller-Kellerman and Adam Sopko. I am honoured to have been part of it for the last two AU’s and it is worth every second of my time that I give to my mentees. They both did well, and I sincerely hope to see them at AU next year too (nice work, Jisell and Will)!
On top of the above AU duties, I had to give an AU Explainer interview, an Expert Elite interview, plus a last-minute AU Speaker interview. Plus, I had organised an industry meetup on behalf of LinkedIn Learning. This was on top of the usual meeting, greeting, networking and running miles (not kidding) to get to meetings, keynotes and classes I wanted to attend! Trust me, my step counter on my Apple watch thought it had been stolen, bearing in mind that my usual working day does involve only one flight of stairs at home.
Let’s start at the beginning though. Every year, I make a two-week pilgrimage to the US of A. You may ask me why two weeks? Well, my first week is normally spent in the delightfully sleepy town of Carpinteria, just south of Santa Barbara in the lovely state of California. Trust me, being British, just being in the Cali climate is a blessing, even in November. My first week of the trip is spent on the LinkedIn Learning campus there, recording AutoCAD online videos for all of you to watch and learn from. This I did (for the AutoCAD mobile app), but there was also some more fun to be had. I had my first real live action to record, along with course intros on a green screen with a teleprompter (Ron Burgundy, eat your heart out). I even had hair and make up along with my own green room!
One of the delightful benefits of this first week in Carpinteria, is that I have Sunday to myself before I start work at the LinkedIn campus on the Monday morning. I get to relax from the long flight and spend a bit of time on Carpinteria State Beach in the tsunami zone. I tend to stick in the earbuds and walk the length of the beach first thing Sunday morning, followed by a bit of time sitting at one of the picnic benches in the glorious Sunday sunshine, enjoying a bit of morning meditation and watching the world go by. This was followed by my usual order of a Hammerhead coffee (large) and a Moon Bowl to go from Lucky Llama. A Moon Bowl is an amazing fruit smoothie topped by granola, agave syrup and sliced strawberry and banana. Brunch in a bowl!
My week at LinkedIn rocked. The staff there are just so nice. Lots of meetings, recording and networking ensued, plus it was great to meet my old and new remote producers; Abby Bok and Nicole Mangona. I also want to thank the amazing live action team (Pamela, Tito and the guys – thank you!) and especially Susan Varnum, my onsite producer for the week!
The week, however, became dark when news of the California fires became apparent. Carpinteria was a victim of the Thomas fire the year before (left hand pic below), but this time the fires hit further south with a vengeance, along the Pacific Coast Highway towards Malibu (right hand pic below). The fires were devastating, and the town Paradise was burnt to the ground, along with many other homes, establishments and property. Lives were lost and hundreds of thousands of people were displaced. I love this part of the world and to see so much damage and devastation was heart breaking. The hotels, even in Carpinteria, began to fill up Thursday and Friday and I changed my Saturday morning flight to Vegas from Burbank, instead of LAX, just to be safe. The Amtrak journey to Burbank was surreal. The sky to the horizon early Saturday morning was coloured like a Mad Max film set and you could see the smoke settling everywhere. Luckily, my journey was incident-free and my flight to Vegas unaffected, but my heart went out to those affected by the fires, and the smoke, which got all the way down to San Francisco and the surrounding area.
Arriving in Vegas to the usual slots at the airport on Saturday afternoon before AU gave me some downtime with Sunday being the BIG PowerPoint day! And all PowerPoints were completed on time so that I could meet with some good colleagues and fellow Expert Elite alumni before an early night, the night before the insanity that is AU began.
I had already registered on Sunday, and here’s the BIGGEST bit of Autodesk kudos I must give. Upon entering full registration at The Hub (you know, where you get your AU bag etc), I got my Autodesk Expert Elite ‘goodie’ bag. There were some lovely bits of swag in there, including a delightful blue Expert Elite jacket, but here’s the bit I loved, that made me feel accepted, that made me feel that all the years of hard work, blood, sweat and tears were worthwhile. In the bag was a handwritten ‘thank you’ note from Katinka Sante of Autodesk, who manages the Expert Elite program. That handwritten note and the thought and sentiment behind it made EVERYTHING feel worthwhile. Thank you, Katinka.
This AU was my busiest yet and the main thrust of my classes was the AutoCAD web app and the AutoCAD mobile app, plus explaining how to utilize the One AutoCAD offering. I even had a class on learning techniques, which I have wanted to present at AU for many years (thanks for that one, AU committee!). So, this year, One AutoCAD and its offerings came to Vegas with me!
My classes were as follows: –
All the above classes can be found on the newly revamped AU website at http://au.autodesk.com. Just click on the links and it will go to each class page.
One AutoCAD was a new subscription release in March 2018, when AutoCAD 2019 was released. It opened a whole new ‘toolbox’ of AutoCAD flavours, known as ‘toolsets’. These included applications such as AutoCAD Architecture, AutoCAD Electrical and AutoCAD Mechanical and many more. What One AutoCAD also gave you was a Premium subscription to the AutoCAD mobile app, allowing for editing, not just reviewing drawings, and full access to the AutoCAD web app as well.
What I wanted to do with my classes was promote mobility with AutoCAD. I mentioned the week before AU, I recorded the AutoCAD mobile app course for LinkedIn Learning. I did this with a rather lovely 12.7-inch Apple iPad Pro with Apple pencil which, in turn, already speaks volumes. The fact that you can take an iPad on the go with you and work on your designs gives you an incredible amount of AutoCAD mobility that you never used to have. And now that your designs can be saved to the Web & Mobile folders in the AutoCAD desktop app, you can take your DWG files with you, wherever you go, even in offline line mode, if there’s no internet signal. This is the big benefit with One AutoCAD. You do only need the ONE subscription. You get all your required desktop toolsets; vanilla AutoCAD, Architecture, Electrical, Mechanical and so on, but you also get the ability your take your designs with you too, via the AutoCAD web and mobile apps.
Being an instructor for LinkedIn Learning, I also love to promote how to learn, and I was very pleased that my ‘How Do YOU Learn?’ class was accepted at AU. Learning is very individual nowadays with online learning based specifically around your own needs and requirements, and with many apps out there that allow you to store that learning for later reference use. This class takes you through some of the methodologies and interfaces you can use and asks you, “How do YOU learn?”.
AU is a crazy week, with loads of social and networking events too. The pace doesn’t stop in Vegas, I can tell you! I was invited to an amazing Autodesk event by the AutoCAD team which was held at the Paris casino on the Las Vegas strip to celebrate the Eiffel Tower in Paris getting a BIM makeover for the 2024 Olympics. This was visually incredible, and you were invited to wear a VR headset and see the model for real, with location choices and time lapse imaging to see it at any time of day. It was way cool to select the time button, press it down to watch the time-lapse and then see the whole VR environment re-render! I was also able to get some great shots of the Bellagio fountains. You know the ones if you have seen any of the Oceans Eleven movies, from the Frank Sinatra version upwards. Thanks SO much to Alyson and Stacy from the AutoCAD team for the invite. It was a GREAT event! You can read more about the project here in Engineering.com.
I was also able to attend a superb Blogger social this year, thanks to the legend that is Shaan Hurley from Autodesk, with pizza and beverages provided by LinkedIn Learning! It was a great evening, with some VR tech for entertainment and just great company. It was held in a superb suite over at the Mirage casino complex, which had a real eighties vibe, like you would expect a Motley Crue rock video to have been filmed in there. (Welcome to Vegas!) Many thanks to Shaan (and also Linda Sellheim and the LinkedIn Learning team) for organising it all!
Another great thing that AU offered this year was Industry Meetups. I was able to organise one on behalf of LinkedIn Learning which gave us our own meeting room with refreshments (and doughnuts!!!). Attendance was way more than subscribed, which was wonderful, and we met some really great AU attendees and were able to talk some of them through the LinkedIn Learning interface and show them exactly how easy it is to learn!
All in all, I had an incredibly busy two weeks. It was exhausting and I was drained upon my return, especially with a new house to unpack and that lovely IKEA furniture to assemble, but it was worth EVERY second of the planes, trains and automobiles to get to and from where I needed to be, and I can safely say that I had my best week at LinkedIn and my best AU so far!
Thanks to everyone concerned, especially the AU team (speakers and mentors), the AutoCAD team, the Expert Elite team, my LinkedIn Learning colleagues and the AU tech guys. You all rock.
Here’s to next year!