News from AU
January 9, 2019

A Better Future Starts Today—Looking Ahead to 2019

2018? It’s over. Done. History. 2019 is just getting started. And it brings new possibilities—not only for what we make, but how we make it. These emerging technologies and approaches mean new roles for the people who make our built world—people like you, most likely.

And it’s a good thing, because our greatest era of challenge and change still lies ahead. A growing global population, accelerating urbanization, and an ever-larger middle class mean that we can’t continue creating and building in the ways we have in the past. We need to find ways to make more and build better while reducing our impact on the planet—and the communities that live on it.

“Automation can enable us to work better, do things better, and make better decisions.”    –Andrew Anagnost, CEO, Autodesk

What experts expect 

Population pop: By 2050, there will be 10 billion people on the planet, up from 7 billion today.
Living for the city: By 2050, worldwide 2 out of 3 people will live in cities.
Great expectations: While 25 years ago, less than a quarter of the world’s population was middle class, today it’s almost half, and 400,000 people join the middle class every day.

Welcome to what’s next

New technologies—known by some as the tools of the fourth industrial revolution—can enable us to meet these challenges and manage our growing needs in new ways:

  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning can help us expand design possibilities and find safer and more efficient ways to fabricate those designs.
  • Additive manufacturing can generate previously unmakeable forms using a growing range of materials, from plastic to metal to space-age ceramics.
  • Intelligent automation enables robots to function in dynamic environments, remain aware of people and objects around them, continuously adjust, and learn on the job.
  • Mixed reality technologies like VR and AR enable us to experience designs in immersive ways before they’re ever built, to better understand the impact of our decisions and how our creations will fit into the larger world.
  • Cloud technologies provide flexible access to data, nearly unlimited storage and unbridled compute power, and help us to collaborate in new ways.


The future of making, 2019

When these technologies are combined with human creativity and continued innovation, even more becomes possible. Here are just a few of the trends that will shape our industries this year and in the years ahead:
Connected construction—Where the traditional waterfall process required architects, engineers, and builders to essentially create the data for a project 3 separate times, now BIM enables these teams to work from the same data set from the first concept drawings through to building operation and maintenance.
Learn more: Check out Paul McGilly’s class, Cloud Collaboration and Successful Integrated Project Delivery.

Connected design-to-make—Once separate disciplines, design and fabrication are becoming part of a single connected process. The dream of push-button manufacturing is finally becoming a reality.
Learn more: Check out Benjamin Ki and Ivan Panushev’s class, Building a Design-to-Make 3D Printing Workflow.

Generative design—AI and machine learning are leveraging powerful compute resources in the cloud, enabling computers to generate design solutions no human would ever devise and solve for multiple constraints at once, even ones that seem to conflict.
Learn more: Check out Andy Harris and Mike Grau’s class, Generative Design and General Motors: The Future of Automotive Vehicle Structures, or Kean Walmsley’s class, Getting Started with Generative Design for AEC.

Convergence—Manufacturing is acquiring the agility of construction, while construction is gaining the efficiency of manufacturing. And both are finding new ways to use immersive technologies originally developed for gaming and entertainment.
Learn more: Check out our article, Convergence: How Construction, Manufacturing, and Media & Entertainment Are coming Together featuring interviews with industry leaders.

Moving ahead together

What does this all mean for you? It means you need to keep learning and advancing your practice. AU is the community where this learning happens. And the new AU web experience is where that can happen all year long—through connected conversations, personalized content suggestions, and new learning formats. 2019 holds incredible promise. We look forward to learning, growing, and advancing together all year long.