Speaking at Autodesk University and Why It Matters

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The Autodesk Community has been a critical part of nearly all of my professional career, and I'm grateful to have been able to contribute and participate through this blog. Autodesk has hosted Autodesk University since 1993, beginning with the original user conference in San Francisco to the main event for the 31st year, running from October 15-17th in San Diego, CA this year. For the 20th year in a row, I'm working on my own presentations, and am focusing on upgrading my presentations to a higher level. Your industry talks, panel discussions, roundtables, and technical instructions are made up of an entire host of products. Your pitch can be about a specific product, an add-in, a workflow, or a successful project. You can submit your own proposals for Autodesk University here


After attending AU for a couple of years, I started teaching at AU in 2005, while still working as a technical instructor for an Autodesk reseller. As the years have passed, I've been lucky to meet people from all walks of life and a wide variety of professional backgrounds, cultures, and countries. 


AU has become an event where thousands of people come together with a common objective:

To engage, learn, participate, and educate.


AU has always been a place where the community gets together and puts our competition as businesses and individuals aside. We meet with others who are just as passionate about their experiences – both good and bad. We get to know each other as individuals because we all have the same thing in common: we use Autodesk software to design and make our world, communities, workplaces, and homes. 


Being selected to present has always been an honor but it also gives you the chance to expand your experience, as you will be engaging with the attendees from a different standpoint. As a presenter, you'll gain access to an audience that is there to hear what you have to say. The audience needs to learn about the topic but also how you conquered it. And as you work up your presentation, you'll learn more about it along the way. Being able to teach someone else completes the learning cycle, as you are sharing based on your own learning experience. AU is more than just classes. The event has always been first and foremost a vehicle for Autodesk to present products and vision to the community. We want to learn how the tools work, but we also learn from others what doesn't work. Success is most often rooted in failure, and AU is where you can go to help sort this out with product developers and managers.


Autodesk has leveraged the event to consistently engage the community and has worked better than most companies to leverage that relationship to improve their products. This is what separates AU from other events I've attended and presented at across the country. As a presenter, multiple resources are made available. The Speaker Mentor program is something I was lucky enough to engage with Matt Murphy and others from the very beginning, as we looked to expand our online presence. It helped all of us to improve the quality of the presentation and experience. Another important element is to use the opportunity to engage with the Autodesk developers, product managers, and other resources to help work on your topics and presentation. Leverage your relationship with your Autodesk vendor or with those of us in the community who are more than willing to help.


For me, there's no replacing the feeling that comes when you're helping a user, and you hear that excitement in their voice when an issue they've been struggling with is given light to help resolve it. That feeling is irreplaceable. At my AU class last, the majority of users raised their hands when I asked if they are using these tools every day. That's a big change from just a few years ago, even before Covid forced us to re-think and re-imagine our very work environment. Even AU itself has changed, with greater emphasis put on reaching out to the community to make the resources and content more accessible to those who could not participate in person.


Hopefully this year I'll get another chance to present at AU and have a great time being up on the stage, having a blast with the crowd, getting into the camaraderie, and joining another great group of speakers. Autodesk University is an occasion that continues to provide me the chance to meet with old friends, engage in, learn from my colleagues, go toe-to-toe with other exhibitors that want to sell me the "next great thing", and then discover that this is a great new thing. Life is what you choose to make of it - so if you're ready to step up on that stage, and be a voice for the community, then do it. You'll never regret it.

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