From Proposal to Presentation: A Guide to Speaking at AU 2024

how to submit proposal at AU

Looking back at 2023, I have many personal and professional highlights. But perhaps one of the biggest professional milestones was the opportunity to speak at Autodesk University 2023, the Design & Make conference.

With an array of engaging sessions, classes, and keynotes for professionals in the architecture, engineering, construction, and operations (AECO) space, AU has always held a special place in my calendar. Last year, I was deeply honored to talk about a topic close to my heart: diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) within the AECO industry.

Sharing my story was an empowering experience, and the exciting news is, it's your turn now! Proposals for speakers at AU 2024 are open until April 30. If you have a unique viewpoint or an engaging idea, don't hold back. Take the plunge, submit your proposal, and become a part of AU 2024: Submit your proposal.

Submit your proposal

It might seem daunting, but I promise you the journey is incredibly rewarding. Plus, the Autodesk community is here to support you. Ready to take the leap? Below I walk you through my own experience from the earliest idea and proposal stage through the event and beyond.

And if you’re looking for even more inspiration, you can check out my session from last year: BIMigration: Transforming AECO Through Immigration, Diversity, and Technology

From Idea to Action

DEIB has been an ongoing discussion in today’s world, it really came to the forefront during the COVID pandemic. I felt that more conversations needed to happen, especially in the AECO industry and people needed a platform to present their stories and experiences. I was profoundly moved by Shir Rustici, a global project manager at Symetri, and her panel's discussion at AU 2022: Beyond One Gender: The Power of Diversity and Inclusion. The panelists’ candid stories and shared challenges as women in the AECO industry were truly enlightening. Since AU has a diverse and global audience, it seemed to be the ideal platform to share these narratives, including those of immigrants in our industry.

The Submission Process

Working alongside my colleagues, several of whom are immigrants themselves, was a truly collaborative experience. Greg Lehrer, Vice President of Consulting Services at Symetri, provided valuable guidance as we refined the title of our panel. My colleagues and fellow panelists, Eve Lin and Shir Rustici, were invaluable sources of knowledge as we assembled our panel submission and eagerly awaited the team's final decision.

I strongly encourage you also seek out insights from your colleagues when you're crafting your session proposal. Their unique perspectives and constructive feedback can be instrumental during the submission process. Collaboration not only improves your presentation but also broadens your understanding of the topic you're addressing.

Planning the Session

The real work kicked off once our proposal was accepted. Overall, planning the panel was an intense and exhilarating process. Teamwork was our cornerstone, and my fellow panelists Eve Lin, Shir Rustici, Thesla Collier (HNTB), and Nima Azad gave the right blend of insight and perspective to ensure our planning was successful.

Our tasks included finalizing the panel structure, brainstorming thought-provoking questions to engage our audience, and most importantly, ensuring our panel was inclusive. All these elements required careful consideration and effective collaboration.

The AU Session Experience

All in all, the panel was amazing, and it felt good to share our stories with the audience. We ensured that our collective thoughts and efforts were reflected in our presentation.

For those who are considering presenting for the first time, I would suggest submitting one or two sessions and dedicating your time and energy to making them as close to perfect as possible. The investment is absolutely worth it. In the end, seeing the innovative and inspiring session you've created and sharing it with your industry colleagues is a rewarding experience you won't forget.

The Ripple Effect

The weeks and months after AU 2023 have been surreal. From our session being named Top-Rated, to being honored as The Big Room Member of the Month, and now having this wonderful opportunity to contribute to the Digital Builder Blog—it's been a thrilling ride!

I owe a special thanks to my mentor, Matt Wunch, who provided invaluable guidance in preparing our successful panel, and to Alex Eckhart for his dedication in the Big Room, a fantastic platform for connecting with fellow construction professionals.

Autodesk has been a guiding force in our industry, and it feels good to see them moving forward with such a great vision for the future!

Your story matters. Don’t forget to submit your proposal by April 30. I hope to see you on stage at AU 2024!

Submit your proposal

And another way you can have your voice heard? Join The Big Room, an online community designed for you to collaborate, ideate, and grow with other construction professions.

Prateek Chitnis

Prateek Chitnis is the Strategic Implementation Manager at Symetri USA.