DBL Students Gain Industry Insight at Autodesk Conference

Students from the DBL attend the Autodesk University in the fall.

By Isra Hassan Atlanta, GA

Students from the Digital Building Lab at Georgia Tech in the fall attended Autodesk University in Las Vegas.

Autodesk University (AU) brings together designers, builders, and engineers to work and learn together. It is where one can learn how industries are using and converging these approaches and processes in new technologies.

We asked three of the DBL students to share their experiences at AU with us.

Raunak Tibrewala (M.S.)

What year are you in school, and what's your background?

I am an MS in Architecture candidate concentrating on high-performance buildings. I have a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Roorkee and have 1+ years of work experience.

How did Autodesk engage with you both before and during the conference?

I came to know about the opportunity of attending AU2018 as a student ambassador through Associate Professor Dennis Shelden. Then I mailed my resume and expressed my interest stating, “Why I want to attend AU 2018?” to John Herridge (a member of the education team) at Autodesk. A few days later, I got an email from John saying that I was invited to attend the conference, which was followed by a series of emails guiding me through the registration process, travel, and accommodation bookings.

Autodesk had also arranged special events and sessions during the conference for student ambassadors to help them connect to the industry. There was a dedicated Autodesk education team engaging with all the student ambassadors. All the communications about different events spread on a closed WhatsApp group during the event. The team made sure that the whole event experience was smooth, and all the arrangements were overwhelming.

What did you think was the most interesting, cool, etc.?

Some of the most exciting things about AU2018 were:

A). Getting to meet other fellow student ambassadors and learning from them about their cool work. The students came from different backgrounds namely architecture, construction, industrial design, and mechanical engineering which allowed the exchange of ideas.

B). I was amazed by seeing the scale of the event. There were interesting sessions by industry experts on all the current technologies and software use, topics and issues concerning the industry.

C). There was a considerable expo with different companies, and startups showcasing their innovative products and technologies. The expo had exciting displays.

D). I was very excited to be in Las Vegas as I have never been there before. Food and drink arrangements during the conference were excellent. As 13K people were attending the event, Autodesk had an AU party, and the venue was a whole street with all the bars and restaurants serving the attendees, which was a lifetime experience.

What have you learned/gained from going, and what might you do in the future based on what you learned?

The most important thing that I gained is a lot of insight on the ongoing developments in the industry, which broadened my scope of thinking of what I can pursue in my career and research that is relevant in time. Also, this gave me a great opportunity to network with the industry.

Vernelle A. A. Noel (Ventulett NEXT Generation Visiting Fellow/Visiting Assistant Professor)

Who is your role at the school?

I am the Ventulett NEXT Generation Visiting Fellow/Visiting Assistant Professor.

How did Autodesk engaged with you both before and during the conference?

John Herridge contacted me to invite me to the AU. I was asked to a faculty dinner with Autodesk representatives.

What did you think was the most interesting, cool, etc.?

It was my first AU. It is a huge conference!

Most interesting was Autodesk’s push of data and automation in construction. Presentations by the following people were inspiring: Peter Diamandis, Andrew Anagnost, and Lorien Barlow, who presented her film, “Hard Hatted Woman.”  It is a feature-length documentary that tells the story of women in construction trades. Barlow spoke about the fact that in the U.S., less than 3% of women are in blue-collar trades on construction sites. She mentioned the job site as being “hard on women,” but didn’t go into too much detail in the presentation.

I did meet and chat with her after, and issues of harassment and violence on the job site against women came up as. This documentary reveals the great work women are doing on job sites. She posited that creating a job site/blue-collar site that is inclusive of women would ease the “current construction labor shortage.”

From the website – “In an industry that is over 97% male-dominated, women in blue-collar construction trades are breaking ground, building the future, and changing the face of construction. Theirs is a fight to redefine the labor movement and overcome the most enduring barriers to occupational freedom for women.”

What have you learned/gained from going, and what might you do in the future based on what you learned?

Based on such a great learning experience at the conference, I am making connections with Autodesk representatives I met to collaborate with them in some manner. I am particularly interested in developing a workshop or course that teaches students how to build Revit APIs and use Autodesk Forge. Students need to learn these skills and tools as the industry pushes the future “they want to create” – a data-driven, automated one. Students also have to learn to design and create a future where consideration of these social impacts are not shoved to the side.

Sounok Sarkar (M.S.)

What year are you, and what's your background?

I am a research assistant for the Digital Building Lab (Georgia Institute of Technology) with Associate Professor Dennis Shelden and have completed a master of science in Architecture (digital design and fabrication)

How did Autodesk engage with you both before and during the conference?

I was selected for the Autodesk University as a student ambassador based on my final project work (planar component building system automation). Autodesk personnel were very prompt about answering all the questions and providing us with required details like flight tickets, hotel reservation info, how to get to the hotel and so on. At AU, they were again attentive to our needs. In between attending classes of our interest and enjoying a wide variety of delicacies, we had ample opportunity to connect and network with people via the AU app. Also, each of us was provided with an iPad so that we could easily showcase our work to relevant people.

What did you think was the most interesting, cool, etc.?

One of the most interesting things at AU would be the expo. Companies from every sphere of AEC, manufacturing, automation, and so on came together to showcase their products in the realms of software development, robotics, and product develop. Not only it show cool products, but also it gave clear picture of where the industry is headed. The other thing was the idea exchange booth. There you could connect with an Autodesk employee about augmenting certain parts of the software, give feedback, talk about your ideas, and also get feedback from them about what to learn based on your interests.

What have you learned/gained from going, and what might you do in the future based on what you learned?

I got to learn about the Forge which allows users to collaborate across multiple software APIs and deploy products to the cloud and the prospects sound really exciting and promising to me. I think I have a clearer idea about what to learn and where to learn from.