Last week the ConTechTrio team had the honor and privilege of attending and presenting at Autodesk University. We have several Big News items to report from the event. This was the first time that I attended this amazing technology conference. It was a great experience to meet and talk with other like minded technology enthusiasts. The exhibit hall was full of amazing technology to learn about and try out. The ConTechTrio was able to see and try out the DAQRI Smart Helmet, the new Microsoft Surface Studio and Surface Dial, and even SAM the brick laying robot! The following are my day one highlights from Autodesk University 2016.


Stacy Scopano, Senior Strategist, Building Construction, from the Autodesk team led this interesting session that focused on uses cases for cutting edge technology in the construction space. The main takeaway is that we are now living in “The Era of Connection” and the future of Autodesk is in the cloud on their Forge platform. Mr. Scopano reminded the audience that last year this session focused on the Construction Worker, specifically on the three areas of Production, Demand and Products. Mr. Scopnao projected that there will be nearly “50 billion mobile devices will be in play by 2020” in the Era of Connection. We are moving towards a workplace in which “Anywhere, Any time, Any Device can access BIM Data”. In this new Era, the construction industry must make the move to mobility as a new business practice.


There are three areas of focus this year for the Construction Launch Pad session: Connected Insight, Connected Assets, and Connected Team. The BIM360 vision is one of  “One Team Delivery”. This can only be achieved by utilizing a Common Data Environment, to connect all phases of construction. This is the concept where all project data is kept in one platform for all team members to access at any times.

Connected Teams

The idea here is to put the data in the center from the start of a project. This will keep teams up to date in the office in real time. This can only be accomplished by digitizing the construction project site. This is the shift away from paper based workflows to digital documents such as the specifications, plans, and request for information. According to Mr. Scopano, the lines are now blurring between the digital and physical world.

Challenges of visualization

Roy Ashok, Chief Product Officer, from DAQRI was invited to the stage to explain pilot project they have completed working with BIM 360 and Mortenson Construction. Mr. Ashok explained for DQARI is dedicated to delivering AR (Augmented Reality) everywhere. He believes that AR will disrupt how we live and work in the future. He asked to audience to think about email, and the transformation it facilitated in workplace communication.

Mr. Ashuk next explained how Technology is revolutionizing PPE and Construction workflows. The DAQRI Smart Helmet is changing how work can be accomplished. At the worksite, the helmet form factor is changing at work will evolve. Right now an employee can wear a device such as the DQARI Smart Helmet as work for job site safety training. What if after work, that same employee would wear glasses for personal use, that takes them to the car by showing them the way with arrows on the floor, and then this experience seem less transfer to car windshield, and once they get home can put the glasses back on.


DAQRI worked with Mortenson Construction to put BIM360 onto the Smart Helmet. This was a move from the iPad that is hand held to the Smart Helmet ( hands free and connected to the cloud). Dace Campbell next joined the stage for a live demo of the BIM360 and DAQRI integration works. The Mortenson team was able to place a BIM project onboard the DAQRI smart helmet. This allows the team to see 3D model, view the schedule, and place and annotate a tag in the model in real time on a plan. Ricardo Khan from Mortenson Construction next took the stage to explain how the Mortenson team utilized the DAQRI Smart Helmet to visualize BIM workflows on the Hennepin County  Medical Center project. Mr. Kahn next laid out his use case for the Smart Helmet on last planner activities in the field. In closing, he pointed out that we are moving past pinch and zoom experience using hands to hands free real time workflows through new connected devices.


The keynote session was kicked off by Autodesk CTO Jeff Kowalski. He focused on four main themes: Machine learning, Generative Design, Virtual Reality and Robotics Systems. He highlighted several unique uses cases for Autodesk efforts such as:

  • An Autodesk intern named Brittany’s used of prototype CAD system (Project Dreamcatcher) to design a “the most comfortable and ergonomic” chair for a human to use at work. She used a new concept Mr. Kowalski referred to a “Generative Design”. This is process in which “we do not tell the computer what to do, we tell is what we need” and the programs develop a design on their own. Mr. Kowalski further elaborated that “we tell it what we want to accomplish, not what we already now.”
  • Next up the crowd was amazed by the stage presence of a sixteen year old student named Anna Nixon. Ms. Nixon is a junior student at Oregon high school who is responsible for establishing in the STEM for Girls organization and competes in the First Robotics Competitions. Ms. Nixon was not alone on stage for long, she brought along her robot named Prometheus to complete a live demo of basketball skills! At the end of her presentation she laid out a direct challenge to Autodesk CEO Carl Bass! She issued a direct challenge to Mr Bass and Autodesk to create the tools that she can work work best in the future!
  • The final guest presentation was by Christian Benimana from the Mass Design Group. Mr. Benimana provided the details of his rather interesting background, his time studying architecture in China, and the impending changes coming to Africa. He works with the African Design Centre on pushing the boundaries of design in an emerging market. He focused on the growth of cities in Africa and around the world in the future. There is a huge need for more design professionals and more streamlined processes to accommodate the future housing need.


ConTechTrio special interviews from Autodesk University

The ConTechTrio were able to talk with several attendees at Autodesk University. We have some great event insights from Joe Williams (Rogers-O’Brien), Todd Wynne (Rogers-O’Brien Construction), Taylor Cupp (Mortenson Construction), Ricardo Khan (Mortenson Construction), Stacy Scopano ( Autodesk), Roy Ashok (DAQRI), Kris Lengeiza (Stiles Construction), and Nathan Wood (Spectrum AEC). The ConTechTrio were able to speak with Nicolas Mangon (Vice President AEC, Industry Strategy & Marketing ) from Autodesk. Mr. Mangon provided us with his insights about the current AEC space and the future.

To listen to the interviews CLICK HERE.

Did you attend Autodesk University last week? What were your favorite news items or experiences? Please leave a comment below.