Autodesk University 2016 Recap

by Angie Schrader30 November 2016

Earlier this month, Autodesk wrapped its latest edition of Autodesk University (affectionately called AU).  What started in 1993 as a user conference has grown in to a fantastic four-day phenomenon featuring hundreds of classes, inspiring keynote sessions, a wondrous exhibit hall, interesting people and lots of fun.  Nearly 10,000 people attend the annual US event in Las Vegas – but in case you were not one of them, here is a recap and some ways for you to get in on the action.

Mainstage Keynotes 

Each day kicks off with an large keynote address. There were three talks this year. The talks are anchored by Autodesk top dogs (starting with CEO Carl Bass) but also feature some special guests who are doing amazing things. The talks are aimed at highlighting what’s new and what’s coming with Autodesk software – but are also aimed at getting us FIRED UP about being a part of the Future of Making Things. The simulation highlights:

CTO Jeff Kowalski talked about technologies he believes will change the way we design and make. Specifically, he highlighted the generative design capability offered by Project Dreamcatcher and announced it will be commercially available next year.

Senior VP Amar Hanspal highlighted innovation taking place in three specific product areas. His talk included Stephen Hooper, Senior Director Fusion Product Management who invited his own special guest – the beautiful BAC Mono race car developed by Briggs Automotive Company. Stephen highlighted the simulation capability available in Fusion 360, including Nastran FEA.

Watch the keynotes On Demand: http://au.autodesk.com/au-online/live-stream


AU 2016 Course Offerings

There are hundreds of classes to choose from across AEC (Architecture, Engineering and Construction), MFG (Manufacturing) and M&E (Media and Entertainment). Over the three days, the schedule allows for up to 12 classes. For those interested in simulation, there were 7 AEC courses and around 28 MFG courses. Within those 28, there were two “tracks” or sets of 10-12 classes designed to give attendees a full week of focused content.

The Moldflow Power Track is in its 6th year. It includes classes taught by our internal pros as well as industry experts. Over one hundred Moldflow users from over 60 companies were in attendance for what feels at times like a Moldflow family reunion. Topics included predicting warpage, predicting weld line strength, metal injection molding (MIM), resin transfer molding (RTM), and more. One of the most popular classes each year is the Overview of Development and Research offered by our R&D team.

For a second year we also offered a full track of mechanical simulation courses. Simulation Boot Camp offered 10 coursed designed to cover a range of topics such as model preparation, how and when to use contact, fatigue analysis and more. Two of our most popular classes were Upfront Simulation for Optimized Design and Generative Design with Autodesk Nastran Topology Optimization – both featuring simulation in Fusion 360.

Couldn’t go? You can check out the course materials at AU Online.  Many of the classes were recorded and will be made available on demand. (They are still processing all that content, so give it a month or so.) Know that we also gather all the simulation-related AU content onto the SimHub learning page!


Exhibit Hall

Another exciting part of AU is the Exhibit Hall. It is a giant showcase of Autodesk products at work – demonstrating amazing things that are and will be. There were some fascinating exhibits in the MFG Design, Make, Use area and the Future of Making Things experience.

Some simulation highlights:

Project Dreamcatcher and Within were show-stealers demonstrating examples of generative design and design optimization.

  • Top left is an example from Airbus showing an aircraft component designed using the structural optimization and lattice technology.
  • Similarly, the exhibit top right demonstrates a part produced by human design (weight = 5.1 lbs), a topology optimized version (weight = 3.8 lbs) and a generatively-designed version including latticing (weight = 3.2 lbs).  
  • Bottom left shows a generatively designed sports car chassis exhibited by Hack Rod
  • Bottom right illustrates the concept of generative design in the simplicity of a chair.


One of my favorite exhibits was the virtual reality simulations. Remember the hot BAC Mono car from above? Here I am checking it out in VR – even getting to sit inside! It was cooler than I imagined.  


Check out more on the exhibit hall. Read about The Future of Making Things experience in Autodesk’s In the Fold blog. Scott Shepherd gives a 1-person tour of the hall in his It’s Alive in the Lab blog.

Idea Exchange

The Idea Exchange was an area of AU where users meet with Autodesk designers, product managers, and researchers to give feedback about the future direction of our products. There were over 10 sessions devoted to simulation products.

You can still provide input through the Idea Station online.



Follow the Action on Social

Another way you can catch the AU action is through our social channels.  Autodesk Simulation was in action on Facebook and Twitter. If you want full AU action, they have their own Facebook and Twitter presence.


Don’t Take Our Word For It

There are lots of media folk at AU. As a result, you can read more about some of the simulation excitement from their perspective:

Autodesk CTO on how design is being shaped by machine learning, VR and more, SiliconANGLE

What Happens When AI Starts Designing Things? Autodesk CTO Sounds Off, Core77

Autodesk University; technology; virtual reality; artificial intelligence; generative design, Construction News (UK)

Fusion 360 Gets a Major Update, Engineering.com

Autodesk Fusion 360 Updates Announced, Design World

Netfabb offers complete additive manufacturing solution, Eureka Magazine

Autodesk releases major update for Netfabb 3D printing software, 3ders.org

Autodesk Announces Multi-head 3D Printing Software, 3D CAD World


AU is an amazing experience. If you were there, we'd love to hear from you. If you weren't consider participating next year!