AU 2023 Day 2 Recap: Key Highlights from the Construction Industry Forum

AU day 2 2023 recap

It’s Day 2 of Autodesk University (AU), and we are starting this year off strong! Yesterday’s sessions were thought-provoking and insightful, not to mention the General Session that covered important points about workplace transformation.

It doesn’t end there, though; whether in person or online, AU still has so much more to offer. One was today’s Construction Industry Forum, where Senior Vice President & General Manager at Autodesk Construction Solutions, Jim Lynch, took the stage.

Missed the Construction Industry Forum? You can watch it on demand here.

Also, make sure to catch our Digital Builder podcast's AU Day 2 recap episode.

You can also watch highlights from Day 2 from attendee Ariel Castillo, Innovation Director at Miller-Davis Company:

Construction Industry Forum Recap

Jim kicked off the Construction Industry Forum by highlighting some of the hard work construction teams have put in within the past year and named just some of the thousands of projects.

“In this year alone, we’ve watched you start over half a million projects in Autodesk Construction products. That’s an impressive amount of work.”

Jim asked the audience if anyone grew up playing with LEGOS and mentioned how part of that experience was showing off the final product. However, as real-life builders, they get to share the stadiums, freeways, and buildings with their families and friends and feel the same feeling of pride. 

But LEGOS don’t come with the same challenges as building in real life.

“Every day, you’re faced with challenges, roadblocks, and tough decisions. But it doesn’t have to be this way. How you build should be just as rewarding as what you’ve built.

Change in the Industry

Jim nodded to the ever-changing industry landscape and how it is shifting the way industry professionals work, causing much uncertainty and leaving very little room for error. Making the right decision in a project can greatly affect the entire team's success.

“You need the ability to make decisions confidently, faster, and as early in a project as possible. Your team needs to be able to make sense of all the information it has access to.”

"How you build should be just as rewarding as what you’ve built."

Jim goes into talking about DPR, a leading GC for more than thirty years with an annual construction volume of nearly $10B. A few years ago, DPR realized that rework was taking quite a toll on the entire company, not just financially but mentally. DPR discovered that it was difficult to ensure that they were working with the latest information to make the right decision because information was scattered across multiple platforms.

“DPR put together a plan. They stripped away the noise and created a single source for relevant information. One that could be accessed by the design team, clients, and trades in the field.”

Now, DPR has about 7,000 employees and another 20,000 external collaborators working in Autodesk Construction Cloud. They can now make decisions confidently, making the process more rewarding for their employees while attracting more work.

Exciting New Enhancements for Autodesk Construction Cloud

Lalith Subramanian, Head of Research & Development at Autodesk, took the stage to share his experience within his first year at Autodesk, learning about the complex work that construction professionals deal with daily. Efficiency is more critical than ever.

“Simplicity. Performance. Reliability. There are critical elements of any SaaS product, but especially in construction.”

Lalith then introduced Autodesk Construction Cloud’s new Model Viewer for mobile devices, now in private beta.

“Our initial tests have found it to be over five times faster than the original. And honestly, we couldn’t have done it without your partnership.”

Lalith continued about how challenging it can be for construction professionals to make the best decision when, for instance, an experienced superintendent can’t be there physically to provide that insight.

“Technology should help you distribute the wisdom of your best minds to empower each person on your team to make more confident decisions.”

Lalith then shared some exciting new features being added to Autodesk Construction Cloud, such as advanced filters for models and 3D progress tracking. With these new features, teams can create custom views to coordinate, estimate, and build. 3D progress tracking colorizes the model, giving teams an easy way to visualize the status of any material, asset, or location – all in 3D. This means the team can react and plan together in real-time – even in different places. Additionally, he announced the new Work Planning capabilities in Autodesk Build, which is now available in beta.

The topic of AI was resurfaced for Autodesk Construction Cloud. Lalith explained how Autodesk brought AI into its construction products with Construction IQ about five years ago. He also mentioned how construction professionals can use AI in Autodesk Construction Cloud right now to help automate manual work.

“Our customers are already using AI to dramatically improve the way that they use their time and how they operate.” 

Learn more about Autodesk AI in our new blog post.

Autodesk Values Your Customer Experience

The next to take the stage was Allison Scott, Director of Customer Experience & Industry Advocacy at Autodesk. She began by stating how, here at Autodesk, we understand your journey, no matter where that is.

“With Autodesk as your trusted partner, you’ll receive our unwavering support on your journey no matter where you are on it.”

Allison then passed the mic on to Jean-Manuel LeJeune (Manu) from Dublin Airport Authority (daa), who shared his experience working with Dublin Airport. With over 220,000 flights per year, it is one of Europe's busiest and fastest-growing airports.

Manu shared how important decision-making can be in such a busy airport. With such a large number of projects, companies, and over 1,500 technology users, there is a significant amount of data. To manage it all in a centralized environment, they use Autodesk Construction Cloud.

Being able to coordinate, access the latest and greatest information, embrace disruption, and ultimately make the right decisions was fundamental to Dublin Airport Authority’s success and made them feel proud of their digital transformation journey.

More highlights from AU Day 2

The construction industry forum was insightful and thought-provoking, but it was only one part of a busy but incredible day. Here are some highlights from other incredibly informative sessions that you might have missed.

Takeoff for the Win with Barton Malow, Windover Construction, and Huckabee

This session was held by five speakers: Amr Raafat, Chief Innovation Officer, Windover, Jason Seiler, Sr. Business Transformation Manager, Barton Malow Builders, Matthew Perez, Director of Digital Practice, MOREgroup Inc., Chico Membreno, Sr. Product Manager, Autodesk, Rachel Trocchi, Construction Account Executive, Autodesk, and Joe Gaither, Product Specialist, Autodesk.

Rachel and Joe kicked off this session with a brief overview of Autodesk Takeoff. They explained that the entire Autodesk Construction Cloud platform is part of an ecosystem that helps teams work from a single source of truth. Autodesk Takeoff connects the entire construction life cycle and helps professionals make accurate takeoff from available data.

Amr followed this by sharing how his team at Windover has utilized Autodesk Takeoff to tackle challenging projects. He explained that for years, they had all this data about models and quantities that were disconnected. Since adopting Autodesk Takeoff, his company has fixed the disconnect between 2D and 3D models.

Amr explained that Autodesk Takeoff’s easy-to-use interface allows them to analyze the data and even empowers their estimating and construction teams to work better. They found that their estimating teams can now communicate better with their subs and create more transparency.

Jason took the stage and shared that Barton Malow is a large company with over 3,000 employees, which is why they decided to embark on the journey into Autodesk Takeoff. He shared how it was implemented in March 2023. Before that, they evaluated other takeoff solutions in the market.

“We chose this because of Autodesk’s readily available customer support. The ability to just pick up the phone and talk to a representative was important,” said Jason.

Supplier Diversity in the Construction Industry

Led by Wissam Akra, PE, MBA, CEO, Tough Leaf, this was focused on understanding the importance of supplier diversity, its impact, and how to ensure that you are implementing supplier diversity. This session targeted decision-makers in the construction space who may have mandates to meet compliance requirements regarding supplier diversity.

Wissam explained the importance of having diverse suppliers and that it’s not just about meeting a requirement—it can be cost-effective and more efficient for your project. You can get unique perspectives by having a diverse group of people working on a project. It’s also just the right thing to do; by having supplier diversity, you are ultimately affecting the lives of others in a positive and important way. This can mean a job for a minority-owned business, women-owned business, veteran-owned business, and so many more.

Wissam went on to explain the outcomes of not meeting diversity requirements, such as increased scrutiny, financial penalties, disqualification from a project, and so many more. But he also made sure to point out the benefits of having a diverse supply chain such as more innovation and creativity, local support from the community you’re working in, and will also have a competitive advantage when trying to win work.

As the session continued, Wissam shared how it can be challenging to find a certified, diverse supplier. Having to reach out to a long list of suppliers can take time, and sometimes, the supplier’s contact information is out of date, or they simply cannot handle the scope of your project. Wissam shared how at Tough Leaf you can set filters for your project needs and identify a list of certified diverse suppliers. Tough Leaf can help you find the suppliers you need; along with the help of BuildingConnected you will have everything you need to ensure you are meeting your requirements and getting bids from people you need.

How AI Will Solve the Most Overlooked Challenge in Sustainable Housing

Hosted by Peter Bertels, CTO, CIRCL, and Wim Pieters, CEO, CIRCL, this session covered the importance of striving for a more sustainable future for construction. Peter mentions how the Paris Climate Agreement adopted by 196 countries in 2015 was a signal for change. However, the construction industry is not known to be sustainable. Peter shared how construction is responsible for 40% of global Co2 emissions, 36% of total industrial waste, and how 50% of energy in the entire world is used in construction.

Peter explained how Europe is ambitious and is making goals to have a 55% Co2 reduction compared to 1992 by 2030 and in 2050 Europe wants to be the first climate-neutral continent with net zero emissions. So how can they get there?

Wim took the stage and began to explain that we have seen drastic changes in other industries, such as the automotive industry. For example, in comparison to a car from 1983, fuel consumption dropped dramatically, some run completely without gas, and what used to take days to build now only takes hours. When it comes to the construction industry, we are far from there. While we can add solar panels, we have not grown nearly as fast compared to other industries.

This is a huge challenge, and we need to adapt to be more sustainable, which is why Wim and Peter introduced CIRCL. Wim and Peter wanted to create a smart and optimized building concept, allowing builders to create an entire tailor-made house in only six weeks. Peter explains how with CIRCL this is possible by customizing your house in a similar fashion to Tesla’s car customization process. You can add the address of your plot of land or existing home, and CIRCL’S AI generates your perfect house. Customize how many bedrooms and bathrooms you’d like in your home, and in just a few seconds, you get a rendering of options for your future home with a promised price.

Stay tuned for our Day 3 – the final day of AU 2023 -- recap! You can still attend digitally if you are following along remotely. You can also follow us across our Autodesk Construction Cloud social channels for the latest content and updates.

Alexa De La Parra Ramirez

Content & Communications Coordinator, Autodesk Construction Solutions