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5 Innovative Voices You Can Hear at This Year’s Autodesk University Conference

autodesk university conference 2020

As the possibilities for the future of making expand—whether in the fields of architecture, construction, civil engineering, manufacturing, or media—so do the stories that need to be told.

And the story is not always the project. It’s often how the people, organizations, and technologies driving the future of making can also contribute to making a more equitable and resilient world. Redshift strives to follow the designers, builders, engineers, and creators on their journeys to reimagine what’s possible through technology and collaborative trends.

The same can be said for this year’s Autodesk University (AU) conference, taking place virtually November 17–20, 2020. Through expert speakers and hundreds of interactive meetups, demos, and classes, AU 2020 will connect you with industry thought leaders and innovators, as well as impart knowledge and skills for making anything.

Below is a list of Redshift articles and videos featuring a handful of AU 2020 presenters. These people and organizations have created immersive digital realities for designing, prototyping, and collaborating; organized volunteers to meet urgent health-care needs; devised ways for people to work with technology while improving their quality of life; and used generative design to create parts that are technically superior and also visually beautiful.

1. Generative Design Accelerates the BAC Mono Street-Legal Race Car Into the Future

This year, the Briggs Automotive Company (BAC) from Liverpool, England, unveiled its updated BAC Mono street-legal race car. The sleek, single-seat vehicle weighs less than half of a Toyota Carolla: 570 kilograms, or 1,256 pounds. To keep the weight so low, BAC outfitted the Mono with an ultralight carbon-fiber chassis and 3D printed about 40 parts. However, generative design played perhaps the most important role in BAC’s lightweighting effort. By using generative design for the Mono’s aluminum, CNC-milled wheels, the automaker made the wheels 35% lighter than standard wheels and shaved 4.8 kilograms (10.5 pounds) off the car’s weight. The successful design of the wheels was only phase one of BAC’s exploration into generative design, and there are hundreds of automotive parts that the company could potentially generatively design for its future products. Read the article.

As part of the AU Theatre Talks, BAC’s Neill Briggs will discuss the company’s generative-design journey to literally reinvent the wheel.

2. Robotics Company Lends a Hand (or 500) With Its COVID-19 Ventilator Project

In response to the critical shortage of ventilators after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, two robotics entrepreneurs founded the nonprofit organization The Ventilator Project. With the help of advanced technology such as 3D printing, donations from various fundraising campaigns, and more than 250 volunteers from diverse backgrounds the world over, The Ventilator Project developed its first prototype in less than two weeks. The project challenged its participants to manufacture a high-quality ventilator that collects data feedback loops from patients for a price point of only $5,000—compared to tens of thousands for typical hospital ventilators—and to produce many thousands of them by the end of the summer 2020. Watch the video.

Tyler Mantel, president and founder of The Ventilator Project, will present an AU Theatre Talk and deeper dive into how his team was able to achieve the seemingly impossible in next to no time.

3. Thanks to Multi-user VR in Architecture, CannonDesign’s Ernesto Pacheco Reads Minds

CannonDesign’s Director of Visualization Ernesto Pacheco offered a window into his day-to-day on the job as part of Redshift’s “The Real Life” series. Pacheco builds multi-user virtual reality (VR) worlds, giving his clients the chance to explore rooms and have a chance to interact with others inside the prospective space. He discusses how VR changed his design process entirely—with the ability to give clients and designers the chance to check out the immersive world early in the design process, Pacheco can watch their body language and facial expressions in VR while they explore his design. He can interact with users, ask questions, get feedback in real time, and make changes on the fly, which speeds up the design process and makes it a more robust and collaborative experience.

At AU 2020, Pacheco will present how CannonDesign leverages immersive technologies to enhance its design process and break geographical boundaries through true multi-user, interactive VR/AR sessions.

4. Are Today’s Grads Properly Prepared for Careers in Sustainable Engineering?

When Redshift spoke to Rochester Institute of Technology Professor and Graduate Director of Industrial Design Alex Lobos about preparing graduates for careers in sustainable engineering, he noted that sustainable design had progressed from an emphasis on better materials, manufacturing methods, and product lifecycle choices to an even more holistic approach. He says that this approach has transformed into not only focusing on efficiency but also elevating the benefits of a product and the quality of life for those who use and make the product—all of which can have an economic benefit. Read the article.

Lobos’s Autodesk University presentation will explore how to align advancing technologies with human needs for design and making. This includes using technology to improve performance and create value without degrading the human experience, as well as and matching human needs with automation tools. 

5. Ford Motor Company’s Virtual Reality Prototyping Reinvents Vehicle Design

During her lengthy tenure at Ford Motor Company, Elizabeth Baron was the principle inventor of FIVE (Ford Immersive Vehicle Environment), a VR prototyping platform. FIVE allows engineers and designers to perceive the customer’s experience of a vehicle using a combination of VR and physical elements without having to build expensive physical models. The system promotes a deep level of collaborative design because people in multiple locations can immerse themselves in the same model in real time, and variations and iterations can be implemented quickly. FIVE even changed the culture of communication between designers and engineers because it presents what Baron calls a holistic system that both artists and scientists can relate to and speak about instantaneously.

Now an Enterprise Solutions Executive at Unity Technologies, a platform for creating and operating real-time 3D content, Baron is focused on enabling collaboration on complex engineering and design systems with immersive realities. She will speak about holistic product creation at AU 2020. 

About the Author

Markkus joined Autodesk as a contractor six years ago and joined the team full-time as a content marketing specialist focusing on SEO and owned media. After graduating from Ohio University with a journalism degree, Markkus wrote about music technology, computers, consumer electronics, and electric vehicles. Since his time with Autodesk, he’s developed a great appreciation for exciting emerging technologies that are changing the world of design, manufacturing, architecture, and construction.

Profile Photo of Markkus Rovito