Autodesk University 2020: Top Construction News from the Keynotes

construction highlights from Autodesk University keynote

What happens when you bring together thousands of the most forward-thinking professionals in the construction industry together virtually? Autodesk University 2020 kicked off this morning for four full days of keynotes, exclusive content, and on-demand and live sessions. 

The opening keynotes were can’t-miss events filled with exciting construction product updates and announcements. If you could not tune in, these were the top construction moments you missed, below! 

You can still watch (or relive) the magic on-demand! Log-in or sign up for Autodesk University and visit our construction hub to view the keynotes, construction sessions, inspiring documentaries, games, and more! 

The Short Version: Top Construction Moments from Opening Keynotes

General Keynote:

  • Andrew Anagnost, President and CEO of Autodesk, shared how Autodesk is making data more interoperable, accessible, and more open for the entire AEC industry.

Architecture, Engineering, and Construction Keynote

Highlights from the General Keynote

Andrew Anagnost, President and CEO of Autodesk, opened Autodesk University 2020, highlighting the transformation we have seen in the AEC industry just over the last year. 

“Construction will be permanently digitized,” he said. “There’s more need to coordinate workflows between teams and disciplines.” 

He reflected on how Autodesk Construction Cloud was announced last year at Autodesk University – a truly connected construction experience. He briefly highlighted the three new unified products – Autodesk Build, Autodesk Takeoff, and Autodesk  – all built on Autodesk Docs.

Andrew also shared how Autodesk software’s common data environment will support leading industry standards, “By January, BIM 360 Docs will support ISO 19650, with Autodesk Docs soon to follow.”

He also highlighted data’s importance throughout the entire building lifecycle. “To meet tomorrow’s demand, data will need to flow from design and construction and directly into a digital twin,” he said. “Building owners have woken up to the value of BIM, and they’re asking for a digital handover.” He announced Autodesk Tandem – a new product in Beta that will bring digital twin to BIM.

James Hepburn, Engineering Principal, BDP, took the virtual stage to share more about the design and construction process behind the Nightingale Hospital at the ExCeL Center in the UK. The team leveraged Autodesk products – including Revit, BIM 360, and PlanGrid to deliver a hospital in 9 days.

Want to know the incredible story behind how the Nightingale Hospital was built? Take a look at the full documentary on the AU Construction page, including BDP, Mace, CFES, Interserve, NHS, and the Army. 

"I believe that together we can reimagine possible.” - Andrew Anagnost, President and CEO of Autodesk

When it comes down to all the exciting changes, updates, and stories featured in the keynote, Andrew stressed that it comes down to resiliency. “I believe one of the most important things you should all be striving for is resilience. That’s why we’re committed to making your data more interoperable, accessible, and connected,” he said. 

Highlights from the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction Keynote

A Year of Change

Nicolas Mangon, Vice President AEC Strategy & Marketing at Autodesk, opened the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction keynote with words of inspiration. Like Andrew, Nicolas stressed how much has changed. “We all know that in times of change, big innovations happen, and they can reshape entire industries.” 

“This year, we’ve seen a huge acceleration.” He drew on some incredible examples this year of transformation and resilience, including how China assembled a 1,000-bed hospital in just 10 days, turning to Autodesk products to quickly complete construction. 

Autodesk Acquires Spacemaker

Nicolas dove into more details about Autodesk’s acquisition of Spacemaker, first mentioned in the General Session. Spacemaker uses cloud-based, artificial intelligence (AI), and generative design to help architects, urban designers, and real estate developers make more informed early-stage design decisions faster and enables improved opportunities for sustainability from the start. “It’s going to accelerate the AEC digital transformation,” noted Nicolas.

Shortly after, Vikram Dutt, President, Building Business Line and BIM in Construction at Autodesk, shared more about how the acquisition will unlock design opportunities with automation. He also unveiled the newest Civil 3D extension, Grading Optimization.

Learn more about the acquisition of Spacemaker, here. 

Partnership with Schneider Electric

Autodesk has built its reputation as a reliable technology partner for leading AEC firms. In the keynote, Nicolas announced a new partnership with Schneider Electric to support electrical designers, engineers and contractors in the design of next generation of energy efficient buildings. Schneider is working to develop a new, cloud-based service on Forge that provides a more connected BIM-based electrical offering from concept to detailed design. 

Learn more about the partnership, here. 

Connecting Design and Construction with BIM Collaborate

Leona Frank, Senior Industry Marketing Manager for Infrastructure at Autodesk, shared more about connected data at Autodesk. “Design doesn’t happen in a vacuum. And the better connected these project team members and stakeholders are, the more efficient and less error-prone is the process.” 

She continued, “Companies all over the globe are connecting their data and deriving new value from it. In the process, they are transforming the AEC industry just like every other industry has been touched by the digital revolution.”

To better connect design and construction, she announced additions to the AEC Collection – Autodesk Docs, Autodesk BIM Collaborate, and Autodesk BIM Collaborate Pro. 

Digital Twin Technology 

Vanessa Bertollini, Sr. Industry Marketing Manager - AEC Thought Leadership at Autodesk, shared more about the power of data, “Data is only valuable if it’s useful and gives you the insights you need to take action.” 

But, data’s even more powerful when it’s connected throughout a project’s lifecycle. “We’re working to make the data created during design and construction usable at handover allowing your projects to start digital, and stay digital,” she shared. 

To deliver on this vision, she announced Autodesk Tandem. “It’s a powerful tool that integrates all the rich information from design and construction and transforms it into a federated, holistic view of the project data that can connect to your operations software.” She continued, “By bringing project data together like this, we create a digital thread for your project that goes beyond making it useful for today and turns an eye toward the future.”

Learn more about Autodesk Tandem, here. 

Delivering Connected Construction

To share more about what’s new specific to construction products at Autodesk, Jim Lynch, Vice President & General Manager, Autodesk Construction Solutions at Autodesk, took the stage. Once again, data was front and center. “Data is the backbone of how construction teams succeed,” he said. 

"We’ve remained steadfast in our promise to deliver the industry’s most compelling solutions, connecting design to planning, to the jobsite, through to handover and operations. This is our commitment to connected construction.” - Vice President & General Manager, Autodesk Construction Solutions at Autodesk

Jim reflected on the announcement of Autodesk Construction Cloud at last year’s AU. He also noted how the team delivered nearly 500 product features this year alone, adding, “We’ve spent the last year enhancing our champion features and creating meaningful integrations to make our unified platform a reality.”

“We are connecting your data, your workflows, and your teams. Connected construction is the future of construction,” he noted. 

Pillars of a Unified Autodesk Construction Cloud

Sameer Merchant, Head of Product Development, Autodesk Construction Solutions at Autodesk, shared more about what the new possible means with Autodesk Construction Cloud. “Construction is a team sport. Individual excellence alone is not enough. The entire team needs to work as one.” 

Sameer introduced the specifics of Autodesk Construction Cloud’s unified platform, “One truly unified solution that connects all team members, data and workflows – this is what Autodesk Construction Cloud is about.” 

You can read more about Autodesk Construction Cloud’s expanded unified platform in our release. 

The three core pillars of the unified Autodesk Construction Cloud include: 

Autodesk Build

“Autodesk Build is our new project, cost, and field collaboration solution,” shared Sameer. “Autodesk Build delivers connected project workflows, powerfully simple collaboration, and deep, predictive insights that span projects and help you grow your business.”

He shared how the powerful mobile solution connects your entire team. “Autodesk Build delivers Field Collaboration, Project Management, as well as Document Management, Cost Controls, Turnover, and Insights... all managed together.” 

Sameer also shared more about new functionalities in the platform, such as Progress Tracking. 

Learn more about Autodesk Build, here. 

Autodesk Takeoff

Sameer highlighted how Autodesk is strengthening its preconstruction offerings. “Autodesk Takeoff is built on top of the same unified platform as Build. It’s leveraging the same powerful set of document management capabilities, enabling your estimators to work from a single source of truth.” 

“What makes Autodesk Takeoff a groundbreaking new product is the unique ability to perform auditable 2D and 3D takeoffs,” Sameer shared.

Learn more about Autodesk Takeoff, here. 

Autodesk BIM Collaborate

For preconstruction, and a part of the AEC Collection that Leona shared more about earlier in the keynote, is Autodesk BIM Collaborate. Sameer shared, “We’ve also brought model coordination into Autodesk Construction Cloud. Autodesk BIM Collaborate shares the same centralized document management system that enables architects, engineers, GCs, and subs to coordinate and collaborate on multiple complex models.”

Powerful integrations between Navisworks, Revit, and Autodesk Construction Cloud enable teams to resolve the right issues at the right time from anywhere.” 

Learn more about Autodesk BIM Collaborate, here. 

To learn more about what’s new with Autodesk Construction Cloud, watch the deep dive on the AU website

Data’s Role in Autodesk Construction Cloud

Rounding out his statements, once again, Jim shared just how essential data is to the Autodesk Construction Cloud vision. “Earlier, you heard about Autodesk Docs and how it is at the core of our Common Data Environment. As we continue to build out its capabilities, we are guided by three key pillars.” 

These pillars include core workflows, design app integration, and federation of data. He also highlighted machine learning’s role in Autodesk Construction Blogs through products like Pype and Symbol Detection. 

“Ultimately, Autodesk Construction Cloud gives you the ability to access the data you need to make the right decision at the right time,” he concluded. 

A Vision for Industrialized Construction

Amy Marks, Head of Industrialized Construction Strategy and Evangelism at Autodesk, gave a preview of her session, Autodesk’s Vision for Industrialized Construction.

Amy acknowledged the pain points many companies experience, “We know this hasn't’ been easy for you. Processes and technology have been disconnected, when the ecosystem is calling for more workflow convergence.”

Nevertheless, Amy and Autodesk are committed to helping companies achieve the new possible through industrialized construction. “We want to make it more connected. And we want to create a community so that we can all learn from one another."

"Here’s my commitment to you – at Autodesk, we will empower you to innovate and work together to achieve the new possible." - Amy Marks, Head of Industrialized Construction Strategy and Evangelism at Autodesk

Watch Autodesk’s Vision for Industrialized Construction. 

Autodesk University 2020: Just the Beginning

The keynotes were just the beginning of what Autodesk University 2020 offers construction professionals. Throughout the week, you have the opportunity to attend hundreds of learning opportunities, see project stories that will transform how you think about construction, and dive deep into the product announcements we shared above.

Grace Ellis

As Manager of Content Marketing Strategy at Autodesk and Editor in Chief of the Digital Builder Blog, Grace has nearly 15 years of experience creating world-class content for technology firms. She has been working within the construction technology space for the last 6+ years and is passionate about empowering industry professionals with cutting-edge tools and leading strategies that improve the quality of their jobs and lives.