Autodesk University Report: The State of CAD Management in 201515 Dec, 2015 By: Robert Green
CAD Manager Column: Conversations at the annual conference shed light on what’s happening in the trenches.
I recently returned from Autodesk University (AU) 2015, the company's annual user event, where I had a chance to interact with about 800 CAD managers over the course of four days. This year I participated in panel discussions and taught a variety of classes on topics ranging from software testing to programming languages. Drawing on what I heard in the Q&A sessions, as well as many conversations in the exhibit hall, I was able to form a broad opinion about the state of CAD management in 2015.
In this edition of the CAD Manager's Newsletter, I'll try to share with you what I learned in the hope that it will help you clarify your agenda for the coming year. Here goes.
Something for Everyone
Let me first state that I realize not all CAD managers support Autodesk products. So, why should a non-Autodesk user care about AU? Here are my top reasons:
Strength in numbers. There's no larger gathering of CAD managers anywhere, to my knowledge, and tapping into that huge peer group can yield great insights into our career field.
Interoperability knowledge. Those CAD managers who don't use Autodesk products usually do have to interoperate with them, and I've never found a group of CAD managers with more experience in making disparate tools work together.
Non-CAD topics abound. Want to learn about .NET customization, document management systems, product data management (PDM) integration, or perhaps project management strategies? These topics are all covered at AU, and in a surprisingly product-agnostic way.
AU Size and Demographics
With almost 9,700 attendees this year, AU is nearing the 10,000-attendee mark it achieved prior to the 2008 recession. As usual, this year's attendees included architects, engineers, designers, detailers, IT professionals, artists, and visualization specialists from a broad swath of industry disciplines. Civil engineering, manufacturing, and architecture are the best-represented fields, with software classes distributed accordingly.
CAD and building information modeling (BIM) managers were widely represented in 41 class sections with more than 3,900 total class seats filled. With AU offering almost 700 classes total, it is clear that CAD/BIM management is a niche offering — accounting for about 6% of offered classes — but a substantial niche nonetheless.