AU 2022 Day 2 Recap: The Most Interesting Moments of the Construction Session

autodesk university day 2 recap

Autodesk University kicked off strong yesterday. The excitement of seeing attendees in person was infectious, and folks had a great time connecting with construction pros and gaining actionable insights from the sessions on Day 1.

We're now on Day 2, and the momentum continues! Whether you're joining us in person or tuning in from your computer, AU 2022 offers the perfect opportunity to glimpse the future of construction.

Many interesting classes took place today, but the highlight was undoubtedly the Construction Session led by Jim Lynch, Senior Vice President & General Manager at Autodesk Construction Solutions.

You can catch the session on demand here. 

Prefer listening to podcasts? Don't miss the AU Day 2 recap episode on Digital Builder—available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, YouTube, and anywhere else you get your podcasts.

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Highlights from the Construction Session 

Jim Lynch started the session by highlighting the industry's top issues and commending construction professionals for their resilience and ability to deliver great work despite numerous challenges. 

"Your supply chain is chaotic. You can't find the labor you need. Your projects are becoming more complex. Yet despite these challenges, you're getting the work done. You're using new and innovative techniques to build bigger, better, and faster."

Jim then dove into the innovations, tools, and technologies that have helped the industry navigate the difficult landscape over the past few years. 

"Use of new tools like artificial intelligence, machine learning, AR/VR, and digital twins have accelerated significantly, largely thanks to your vision for what is possible," he remarks. 

He also touched on the role of sustainability and the increased demand for eco-friendly materials and building methods. "Your customers are asking for sustainable materials, a lower carbon footprint, and a building that has the future in mind."

Accomplishing all of the above requires strong technology partners. And according to Jim, construction firms today have an abundance of choices when it comes to which tech providers to align with. 

That's why he's proud to see that many companies—including Amazon and Gaylor Electric—are choosing Autodesk. 

Growth over time

Jim also reflected on the growth that Autodesk has seen over the past year. 

"This year, we watched as you increased nearly four times the number of team members... and double the number of collaborators you have on each project. Weekly bid invites in BuildingConnected grew roughly 50% in the last year," he adds.

Construction professionals are busier than ever, which is why Autodesk constantly introduces updates and improvements to serve users better. 

"We're only making these tools stronger. We've heard your feedback and added more than 250 enhancements this past year."

Such enhancements include "Cost performance tracking and schedule version compare in Autodesk Build, takeoff symbol detection in Autodesk Takeoff, custom and shared dashboards for Executives in Autodesk Construction Cloud, and CRM integrations in BuildingConnected."  

He also mentioned the addition of ProEst, a cloud-based estimating tool integrated into Autodesk Construction Cloud to streamline cost estimating and takeoffs.

The importance of collaboration in construction

An interesting point in the Construction Session comes when Jim looked back at his time visiting Messer Construction Co—a full-service and employee-owned commercial firm that focuses on creating remarkable buildings and communities. 

Jim visited Messer in Cincinnati, Ohio, where the company is renovating and expanding a community theater. 

"This was such an incredible site to visit—I got to see the complexity involved in modernizing a beloved piece of local history and learn how they're using technology to push themselves forward," recalls Jim.  

He commended Messer's focus on relationships and collaboration and notes that these things are vital to thriving in today's landscape. 

Jim stated, "Messer's vision for connected construction doesn't end with their employees. They want all project stakeholders—owners, trade contractors, technology partners—working together from the same set of facts."   

He added, "Because the heart of every construction project is collaboration."

Convenience or control?

Jim then talked about how technology often forces us to choose between "convenience and control." 

Some solutions are convenient and easy to set up but create silos; meanwhile, others offer an array of options and capabilities but add complexity and can be difficult to configure or use. 

Jim said you shouldn't have to make this choice. 

"Your technology should represent you—your business, your projects, your data—in tools that don't get in the way of doing the work. Technology that puts you in control…to define what information is important and who can see it.…to configure workflows that match your business processes…and to manage how data is shared with project stakeholders. This is what we believe it means to be a platform: simple and powerful." 

To that end, he discussed how Autodesk puts convenience into the hands of construction pros without sacrificing control.

"Delivering greater collaboration, convenience, and control guides our vision for Autodesk Construction Cloud," he says.

"Your data from design through operations has a home in Autodesk Construction Cloud. Whether it is uploaded as project data in Autodesk Build or stored in Autodesk Docs, the data is there when you need it."

He continued, "But no two businesses are the same. You need different things from your technology. That's why we're giving you control. Control to start with preconfigured workflows and choose when to do things a bit differently. Control to manage who can see and how it is shared."

Combining convenience with control is how Autodesk stands out from the competition, he added. In a nutshell, our platform delivers "Powerfully simple tools that just work out of the box, but are still deeply configurable."

What Partnership Looks Like: CPPI  

To demonstrate the importance of choosing the right construction tech partner, Brad Buckles, Director of Technology of Charles Perry Partners, Inc. (CPPI) took the stage and shared his company's experience with Autodesk.

He began by talking about how the industry has become more complicated than it used to be. He recalled that they relied on spreadsheets, drafting tables, and printing their drawings when he started his construction career ten years ago.

They were generating a lot of data in the process but were unable to use that information to drive business decisions. 

"We knew if we could unlock it and share it with the people who needed it when they needed it, it would open new avenues of collaboration and innovation."

Brad then explains how the adoption of Autodesk Build helped CPPI drive better collaboration and productivity. 

"We saw the value of keeping our team on the same page and eliminating duplicate tasks. This journey took us a long way, but as our company grew, so did our needs... We needed more than technology. We needed a partnership—with people who shared our beliefs, our values, and our vision."

And Autodesk Build certainly did. 

According to Brad, adopting Autodesk Build enabled CPPI to connect "workflows across cost management, project management, and the field." The company was also able to integrate various tools and systems to achieve data connectivity and automate processes.

CPPI went through significant shifts that were necessary and worthwhile—and it helped that the company has an excellent tech partner to keep teams on track. 

As Brad put it, "while change is never easy, we maintained focus, and Autodesk kept us on pace."

Delivering a powerful customer experience at Autodesk

Allison Scott, Director of Customer Experience & Industry Advocacy at Autodesk, also took the stage to share her thoughts on what makes customers successful.

"I, too was a customer, sitting in the audience, dealing with similar challenges as you are today. But we must do more than empathize— that's why we built a construction management platform that you control, while providing the resources and services that make our technology work for you."   

Allison outlines the numerous customer success initiatives folks can leverage—including resources, events, and The Big Room, a virtual community for construction pros. 

She also reinforces Autodesk's commitment to helping construction firms succeed.

"We create the connections that enable knowledge sharing between you and your peers. We facilitate conversations that help us evolve our partnership and product—with you in mind. And lastly, we give your teams more control over how they work—with resources and services that meet you where you are."

What else you should know about AU Day 2 

This Construction Session represents just one hour of an incredible day. There are more highlights to check out, so don't miss your chance to view them.

See what Autodesk University attendees are saying:

Below are some highlights from sessions that took place on day 2. If you want to keep up with all things AU 2022, follow us on social media to see the latest happenings.

You can also grab a Digital Pass to AU

1. Implementing Autodesk Construction Cloud Across a $2B+ Business: Part 2

Hosted by Ivana Tudja, BIM & Digital Engineering Lead, MACE  this session covered the benefits of Autodesk Construction Cloud, benefits of effective reporting, and how to win people over as well as examples of successful implementation.

Ivana kicked off her session by giving some background on MACE, as well as her own personal background. She then covered some iconic projects that MACE has worked on such as the London Eye, Olympic parks, iconic skyscrapers, state-of-the-art data centers, hospitals etc.

Ivana talked about the transition from going from BIM 360 Classic to BIM 360 next generation and then finally to Autodesk Construction Cloud.

“Nothing is stopping you from going from BIM 360 Classic straight to Autodesk Construction Cloud."

As the session continued Ivana talked about a lot of the features of Autodesk Construction Cloud and how it has been benefitting her teams.

“One thing that helped me make the transition into adopting Autodesk Construction Cloud is all the improvements that Build has made."

She also shared how being able to work offline on the app has been a game changer to the way her teams work since the internet is not always the best out on the field.

She later covered the most common implementation mistakes which include lack of standardization, treating every project the same, over-focusing on the process, not people, and fear of change if it's not working

“I’ve always told them, (BIM managers) we’ve tried, it’s not working, let’s move to a different solution. Fail fast, and keep it moving."

2. Building Trust in an Industry That's Actively Avoiding It

Moderated by David Joslin Applied Technology Manager, Gilbane with panelists Robert Yor Digital Studio Leader, AECOM, Geoff Camp Director, Process Innovation, Suffolk, and Andrew Mayo-Smith, Named Account Executive, Autodesk.

The session kicked off by asking each of the panelists what trust means to them and why.

"Trust dies but mistrust blossoms. The idea is that it is fragile, the earning of it, it’s difficult and you have to do it over time. Small interactions over time. That’s the foundation of trust." said Geoff.

Andrew chimeed in and said, "When you’re on a team you can feel the momentum when you trust each other or not. You can definitely feel the difference."

They later shifted to what trust means amongst teams in construction, as well as how it affected projects.

"There's an element of risk control when it comes to trust or the lack thereof. " said Robert.

Geoff followed by saying, " I don’t think we come into a new relationship in AEC with no trust, I think there’s some level of trust, maybe it’s low but it’s definitely not zero."

Later one of the members of the audience spoke about how their teams try to build trust by establishing a designated trust leader to use as a representation of what trust should look like in the team. They all agreed that it was a great way to establish trust.

"The challenge is that everyone is collectively responsible for where the trust level is going, but the fact that you have someone as representative of your values with trust, I think that’s really important." Geoff said.

Andrew then said, "I think that helps create a culture within a team and you know what they say, culture eats strategy for breakfast."

A lot of things were discussed during Day 2's Construction Session. Jim, Charles, Allison, and others highlight the importance of tech, innovation, and collaboration. It's clear that those who embrace these things will be in the best position to grow and thrive in the year ahead and beyond. 

Stay tuned for our Day 3 recap!

Alexa De La Parra Ramirez

Content & Communications Coordinator, Autodesk Construction Solutions