April McCall at the Welcome to Autodesk University banner
Written by April McCall

The Autodesk University Experience

Autodesk University (AU) 2018 was my second time attending the conference, third if you count the year I went to the ATC summit followed by a day in the Exhibit Hall. The whole experience for me is sensational.Let’s just start at the beginning…the sessions. A session can make you feel a few ways: 1) Inspired, 2) Educated, and 3) Unexpected, (maybe you didn’t get what you thought you would out of it). My advice is to register early so you are not limited in your selections due to full sessions. And, be sure to not overwhelm yourself with sessions, you will get information overload.

My favorite type of session is the Autodesk hands-on labs. You DO NOT need your own laptop, no need to carry one around unless necessary. There is a lot more going on at AU. This year new events included a theater, an escape room and a virtual reality (VR) POD that mimicked walking on Mars. It was so popular I ran out of time to experience it – super bummed. Note to self: when you are selecting sessions be sure to reserve time to experience other things AU has to offer.

         people sitting in pods for vr walk on mars experience  autodesk university hands-on lab session with april looking pensive

Next up…Location

Ahh! The Venetian Las Vegas how fun is that? It can be a dangerous thing if you like Las Vegas and adult beverages. Don’t go crazy on the first night. Me being a social butterfly, I have had a lot of people say “OMG I drank too much. I feel horrible.” Drink water and don’t let alcohol ruin your AU experience. This year was extra awesome, my sister’s family moved to Las Vegas recently, so I was able spend a little time with them.


The Exhibit Hall

When I walk through the exhibit hall doors my heart starts to race. I get so excited I can barely stand it. I love to see technology, and the exhibit hall is huge. There is so much going on there. The Lego station wall was awesome. Walk around, take pictures, pick up cool swag and participate in the activities. This is a great place to learn about new products, see what’s new, and demo things like VR headsets. You will also find the latest products like scanners, drones, plotters, 3D printers and lots of networking. It’s inspiring and I love to spend time there.

lego station wall at autodesk university 2019  3D printing architectural metal sign embossed with autodesk make anything  3D printing a footing with robot-looking printer arm

The Keynotes

Get to the keynote events early for good seats, I love being as close as I can to the action. The keynotes are also very exciting. The speakers are inspiring and present the future of how we can “Make Anything.” For example, the Unity partnership is going to make VR and projects look so amazing and real. My first AU was in 2014 and the theme was “Back to the Future.”  They had a tee-shirt launcher and a Doc impersonator shooting tee-shirts to the crowd. Of course, Marty road in on a hoverboard – always rad.

autodesk university stage ready for keynote speakersautodesk university keynote with people ready to ask questionspanoramic view of autodesk university keynote event with crowds and colorful lights

The Food

Breakfast is available until 8am. The lunches are good and spread out around the exhibit hall. There are a few different options each day. I’m particularly fond of the hors d’oeuvres and the cute tasty desserts. This could be bad if you are on a diet. My favorite was the giant charcuterie board. Yes, please. Water and coffee are plentiful as you need both throughout the day. Don’t worry, you won’t go hungry or thirsty.

The Advanced Party

Don’t miss it, the Advanced Party is fun and you or your company paid a lot of money to send you to AU, so do it all. This year the AU party was off-the-charts. A grand area from the LINQ back to the High Roller was  blocked off for the AU-goers. Some of the restaurants were open and serving food and drinks. My dining choice was JaBurritos which offered a sushi burrito and served Sangria sake. Yum. Sushi is one of my favorite foods which made me want to double dip. Then I made my way over to the Brooklyn Bowl, as in bowling alley – OMG so fun. It was there I ran into some longtime friends. The last stop was the High Roller to enjoy some live music. I was digging the girls playing the violins so we loaded up with glow sticks and enjoyed the colorful  circle swings and teeter totters. Once we were done playing and dancing, it was time to experience the High Roller, the giant observation (or ferris) wheel that delivers beautiful views of Las Vegas.  It was an unforgettable evening of sights.

         atuodesk university advance party showing laser lights at the high roller  autodesk university advance party - the boarding area for the high roller
         autodesk university advance party - view from high roller overlooking the las vegas strip  autdesk university advance party - fun times with glow stick headbands and sunglasses

Last but not Least…Networking

Oh the networking, The Hub had awesome games like corn hole, foosball, a dog park area and store where you can buy cool Autodesk swag. Most of all, it was a great place to network. I love to meet new people and learn about their business, their jobs, and what software they use. I also love to talk about my job, my role, my company and the things we do at Kelar Pacific. It’s even more magical to run into people, I met other places. For example, perhaps we connected through LinkedIn and never met until AU. Love it.

You meet AU newbies who always say it’s too much to take in. AU veterans you meet have either been going for many years and still love the AU experience, or have lost their excitement from going every year. How is that possible? Lol. Did you know the first AU was in 1993 and was held in San Francisco.

What is AU all about? It’s a chance to get together and share tips tricks, and ideas, get inspired and learn new things. It’s for Architects, Engineers, Contractors, Designers, BIM modelers, Drafters, Entrepreneurs, Inventors, Teachers, etc. – for me, and for you. It’s a place to geek out together. AEC, Manufacturing, and Entertainment – these are our industries and together we can “MAKE ANYTHING.”

april mccall standing in front of the autodesk university hub banner  autodesk university friends april and von inthe hub area
  april's favorite us-ie photo with other tired au attendees taking a break in the hub area  april mccall at au catching a quick us-ie with longtime friends