AU 2022 Day 1 Recap: The Top Highlights from the General Session & More

Autodesk University is back in person and we couldn’t be more excited to be in New Orleans. Regardless of whether you’re here in person or watching from your computer screen, Autodesk University is a chance for forwarding thinkers to take a peak into the future of the construction industry. Autodesk University started off strong with lots of exciting sessions including the General Session where Andrew Anagnost himself shares insights on digital transformation, connected tools, and data, as well as connected people and shared documents.

Missed it? You can watch it on demand here.

Prefer listening to podcasts? Don't miss the AU Day 1 recap episode on Digital Builder—available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, YouTube, and anywhere else you get your podcasts. You can also listen to it here.

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Highlights from the General Session

Andrew Anagnost, Autodesk's CEO, kicked off the General Session by identifying how much has changed within the last three years since we were last in person.

“It’s been tough spending so much time away from customers and colleagues. We’ve all been through such disruption. It’s felt like a decade of change, crammed into a couple of years.” 

Andrew then discussed how change is a constant, especially in New Orleans, but New Orleanians know how to celebrate their rich history while also accepting growing with the change that comes with time. Andrew then talked about how if you’re here attending AU, you’re most likely interested in the future of technology. He talked about how we all have challenges in our respective cities and are constantly talking about how the industry is changing while also trying to figure out what we can do to adapt and lead through that change.

“In the face of immense disruption, you have felt what it is to be resilient and to come out of the other side of a challenging moment."

Fireside Chat with Meagan Williams

Andrew then introduced the first guest, Meagan Williams New Orleans Storm water Program Manager who lived through Hurricane Katrina when she was 16 years old. Living through his experience motivated her into studying civil Engineering so that she can give back to her community.

When asked what some of the responsibilities of her job were she described it as someone who creates a strategy to manage all the water in the city.

“We use green infrastructure to complement what we already have, not to replace it. The projects are for the community, we don’t want bad things to happen to the community, so we have to work with the community”

British Antarctic Survey

Later on, during the General Session, Andrew talked about how critical it is for data to flow freely between design and construction, “Especially if your site is in one of the most remote, unforgiving places on earth... “

Andrew then introduced the British Antarctic Survey, a 10-year program to upgrade the research facilities to keep the UK on top of climate change ocean research and biodiversity.

“By reducing the resources needed to maintain the station over the long-term, this project allows them to focus on what they really care about: the science.”

During the session, Andrew brought on stage David Brand, Senior Project Manager at British Antarctic Survey.

You can learn more about the British Antarctic Survey project and hear a firsthand account what it was like building in Antartica from David by watching the General Session on demand.

What Else You Should Know About AU Day 1

The General Session was just one of many great sessions that took place on day 1 of Autodesk University more highlights are below, but don’t forget to follow us on social to see the latest happening. You can also grab a Digital Pass to AU.

1. Reduced Risk and Improved Productivity on CAHSR Using Autodesk Build and Autodesk Takeoff

Hosted by Ann Blanchard, CCM NA Program Director and Kevin Lucht, PE Sr Digital Solutions Manager, this session went over some of the major stresses construction teams go through when handling a big project.

For Arcadis they were tackling the California Highspeed Rail project, a 500-mile system linking San Francisco to Los Angeles/Anaheim. In this session, they shared how adopting Autodesk technology helped changed the trajectory of what could have been major delays to the project.

“Whenever we had issues they [Autodesk] was there to answer them” said Kevin Lucht when talking about the transition of adopting Autodesk technology.

Ann Blanchard later said, “We have taken years to develop our relationship with Autodesk, we don’t take just any representative at Autodesk. They understand how we do business and how we do things here.”  

2. How Will the Construction Sector Get to Net Zero? 

Lead by Carol Battle APAC Principal Sustainability Consultant, Autodesk, this session discussed how the construction industry is known to be one of the biggest contributors to pollution and how the industry needs to take action in order to change that.

"There has been so much talk about reaching net zero but not as much action, we need to ask ourselves what is possible?" Carol said. 

Carol discussed some of the key principles that need to be adopted in order to achieve net zero success: continuous improvements, collaboration, and commitment.

"The continuous improvements made by the industry has has been incremental and transformational." She said, " We have seen an increase in commitment and willingness to help reach net zero."

3. Bridging the Diversity Gap Through Inclusion and Belonging

Moderated by Cliff Cole, VDC DirectorPENTA Building Group this session showcases the importance of diversity and inclusion (DEI) in the construction industry. Cliff started out by talking about he's been in the industry for 19 years and it still feels like he doesn't always belong. 

Monique Brown, VDC ManagerBatson-Cook Construction who was a part of the session shared how the death of George Floyd, "Lit a fire within me." This made her reach out to the president of her company and try to encourage him to make a statement. 

Gloria Samuel, SR Vice President Director of Program and Project Management, Fifth Third Bank spoke about her excitement about the community work her company has done. Her company committed $80 million to the Cincinnati community to invest in housing and building a black-owned banking center.

Asia Johns, VDC SpecialistJE Dunn Construction mentioned how one of her favorite things about her company is the employee resource group. She mentions how she gets the opportunity to speak with people she wouldn't normally speak to. 

"I get a resource to people who share the same cultures and values as me,” said Asia.

Gloria also commented and said, "If you’re with others you’re more familiar with, you’re more likely to show your authentic self.”

Later in the session, they begin to speak on the challenges they faced along the way.

Gloria recalled when she first started and mentioned how she did not have a voice but slowly gained that with experience. Leadership came to her and asked her why business resource groups were important.

“If you don’t fit into an environment, how are you expected to deliver your best work?” said Gloria.

Cliff later chimed in saying, "We have too many talented people leaving the industry. We can’t just have likeminded folks making decisions."

Aja later ended the session with words of advice for the audience, "Be an ally, be a friend, and speak up. The change starts with us as people and the relationships we build.”

What Else Should You Know About Day 1?

Autodesk University day 1 was truly a day to remember, but this recap is only a small portion of what day 1 truly had to offer. Make sure to check out our social channels to stay up to date with the latest and greatest that's going on at AU. You can also watch sessions on demand so you don't miss a thing.

Keep a look out for our day 2 recap!

Alexa De La Parra Ramirez

Content & Communications Coordinator, Autodesk Construction Solutions