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May 02, 2011
Autodesk’s AEC Media Day 2011 Report
Please note that contributed articles, blog entries, and comments posted on AECcafe.com are the views and opinion of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the management and staff of Internet Business Systems and its subsidiary web-sites.
Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
Each AEC Weekly Review delivers to its readers news concerning the latest developments in the AEC industry, AEC product and company news, featured downloads, customer wins, and coming events, along with a selection of other articles that we feel you might find interesting. Brought to you by AECCafe.com. If we miss a story or subject that you feel deserves to be included, or you just want to suggest a future topic, please contact us! Questions? Feedback? Click here. Thank you!

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Autodesk AEC headquarters, Waltham, MA

Industry News
Autodesk’s AEC Media Day 2011 Report
By Susan Smith

At Autodesk’s AEC Media Day 2011 held in Waltham, Mass. in March, the opening discussion revolved around the various Design Suites which now frame Autodesk products. According to Jay Bhatt, senior vice president, AEC Solutions, suites are a simplified way for customers to absorb their technologies. What the Suites are now: plant, building and infrastructure, and are sold in standard, premium and ultimate packages.

All the Revit products – Revit Architecture, Revit MEP, and Revit Structure are being sold in the same suite now. The reason is that there may be a need for a user to explore some of the other Revit tools even if he or she is mainly are an architect, MEP, or structural engineer.  According to Autodesk, Revit is being used for concept design now.

The question was asked by executives, If you had it would you use it? Their contention is that most people would at least try the other products in the Suite if given the opportunity.

Autodesk has been working hard at moving away from selling individual “products” to selling “solutions”. That is difficult to do because their flagship AutoCAD by itself is incredibly popular. It doesn’t matter what you put in AutoCAD – 3D and other tools – users rely on AutoCAD for what it was originally intended for – 2D design and documentation.

Current sales reflect what most customers are interested in: collaboration, interoperability, Structural, Civil 3D, MEP and extended BIM.

This event was chock full of information. There was the feeling that executives had lived with the reality of some of these technologies for some time and that the visiting media were catching the thought train after it had been traveling for awhile. There were products that were not fully thought out, but whose promise was definitely appealing. It was unclear at many points in the presentations whether products discussed were currently available, available only on Autodesk Labs or were in the “technology” category which means they haven’t become a product yet.

Upon further investigation, Project Neon is a cloud technology on Labs, some new structural technology shown is in the “technology” phase, and Dasher is in the pilot phase and not on Labs. Topics included BIM for construction, BIM for analysis, the need to get concept energy and analysis data into an existing building, and doing 3D laser scans of buildings to get accurate data of existing conditions. BIM is expanding into water and wastewater and storm systems, management and routing, and analysis tools are built into that portfolio. Navisworks is where the BIM model comes together, and enables people to look at the whole project – create walkthroughs, analysis, construction, simulation model viewing, clash detection and 4D scheduling.

BIM 360 is a new tool to be available in May “to provide AEC project teams with a view of their project wherever they are.” The entire AEC collaboration data solution includes BIM 360, Vault, and Buzzsaw.

Building Design Suite 2012 - Revit Architecture

Why introduce the new Design Suites?

Richard Harper, senior director of marketing, AEC Business, talked about the reason for the Design Suite approach. Autodesk did search studies across all their primary markets in multiple countries to settle on this strategy.

Suites promise customers:

The idea behind the Suites is to provide better access to technologies to deliver improved compatibility and workflows, so customers can move between products easily. All the Revits are in one box and the products are delivered on USB sticks instead of DVDs. The IT or CAD manager can decide by buying a portfolio of suites which desktops he wants to manage with what products. According to Autodesk, a customer using two or more products is going to see a great deal of benefit.

Autodesk Design Suites include focus on Plant, Building and Infrastructure.

They come in the following formats:

Collaboration and data management in AEC

Rick Rundell, senior director AEC Strategic Technology, said “Our vision is to provide AEC project teams with a view of their project wherever they are,” as projects are becoming more complex with more global distribution.

The answer to this problem is Autodesk’s new BIM 360, which is a data management system with the heart of Autodesk Vault.

Customers said they need the following:

What Autodesk BIM 360 offers is integration with the following: AutoCAD, AutoCAD Civil 3D, Autodesk Navisworks, Autodesk Revit applications and Buzzsaw cloud. With BIM 360, Autodesk has integrated Vault and Buzzsaw so that you can use it with people outside your firewall as well as those within it.

Features of BIM 360 include:

Building Design Suite – AutoCAD Structural Detailing

Integrated Analysis

A lot of the information given about analysis used Civil 3D examples, probably because that product has grown in popularity over the past couple of years. Storm and wastewater is part of the Design Suite, and Civil 3D users can exchange information with storm and sanitary analysis to extend analysis.

New analysis capabilities in the Suites include Navisworks, which can be extended into construction sequencing – which is the ability to view your construction project in a new way – the Gantt view. For “what if” analysis you can pick it up and move it. It is not locked down to what came in from Microsoft Project or Primavera.

Since the planning process can take years longer than the design process, improving planning will then shorten the length of time it takes to get things done. Those small to medium firms are the target market for Design Suites, according to the company, with above 10 users.

In a Q&A session, executives said that the company is midway between integrating their web and desktop products so you won’t see some products, such as Constructware, yet.

The Cloud

Laura Gutwillig, senior manager of the Building Business Line, spoke on the topic of cloud computing. The possibilities she outlined applied to the design process and renderings. As geospatial employs more visualization that is CPU-intensive, then users will be looking for cloud computing offerings to free up computer power and boost productivity.

BIM in the building lifecycle

Jim Lynch, vice president, Building and Strategic Technologies, stated that there are several components driving Autodesk’s strategy:

Lynch said we must invest in new design technology but also retrofit and renovation.

The retrofit and renovation market will be a $400 billion market over the next 20 years. Worldwide, there are 200 million buildings that are candidates for retrofit and renovation projects. This creates a huge opportunity for design software firms and their customers. “We have to do different things in our products to support this process,” said Lynch.

Building Design Suite 2012

The contents of the Building Design Suite 2012 are as follows:

The 2012 Design Suite has the following enhancements: Modeling enhancements, Analysis and Platform.

Last year customers had to bring point clouds painfully into Revit and then start converting point clouds into models, said Lynch. Now they can bring point clouds directly into Revit and users can start using them in models

In the past two years Autodesk has “overinvested” in the MEP business. MEP engineers have received pressure from their organizations to use BIM, and the products are ready for them. This area experienced double digit growth this year, and it was the last group to move along.

Analysis is one of the key areas that has interested MEP engineers, and others. Autodesk introduced CEA conceptual energy analysis release, and moved it into 2012 Revit. Project Vasari from Autodesk Labs conceptual design and analysis tools had over 12,000 downloads in the last four months.

Structural engineering experienced double digit growth last year, and this year has a highly improved analytical model. “We want to enable structural engineers to move more easily to structural analysis, we want to remove the difficulties for the structural engineer to do structural analysis. Our customers are using Robot analysis but may not be using Revit Structure more easily,” said Lynch. Another product delivered in the 2012 release is concrete reinforcement.

In the way of Platform enhancements, Autodesk has built out the Revit Platform and  improved performance of large models, and also invested heavily in the API. “20% more things are exposed in this release,” said Lynch. “More third party partners are coming online to use Revit API on top of their products.”

The Revit Gunslinger program is comprised of a large group of customers, MEP engineers, contractors, structural engineers, who are asked to bring real design data with them, with our project managers, designers, developers, etc. and use their project data on the new release. “The purpose is to get feedback on significant issues, did we get big misses, where do we need to go next in terms of what we’re delivering,” explained Lynch.

Customer gets early access to the product, and can go back and plan for what’s coming in future releases. This program runs all year.

Building Construction Highlights

The “design intent view” of building construction involves the following:

What construction has been missing is for architects’ designs to be accessible to contractors. A number of products are helping to make this possible: Revit Server was introduced last year, and Revit is Citrix ready which will allow access to this information remotely.

Navisworks satisfies the need to have all information in one place so that users can view the whole project, create walkthroughs, deliver understanding between engineers and project managers, simulation and analysis and 4D construction, and enable model viewing. In a separate interview Mark Strassman, vice president of Construction and Plant, quoted Georgia-Pacific as saying “Every RFI costs $50,000.” With that in mind, the ability to do interference checking and clash detection, visualization and analysis, plus QTO with links to costing and estimating applications, can save organizations an enormous amount of money in RFIs.

IFCs are a big part of construction projects that building professionals are expected to address. Autodesk has invested in both export and import capabilities in 2012 release, and moved export capability outside the API so customers can tweak IFC to their needs. 

Buzzsaw is expected to allow people to access Revit from their mobile device, and there will be more from Autodesk Mobile. Buzzsaw can also be synched on the cloud. By using conceptual energy analysis tool in Revit, users can get weather analysis for building performance, and ensure buildings are more sustainable.

Autodesk WikiHelp allows community to share best practices through both their peers and Autodesk itself. It’s not just static information, it’s dynamic and constantly evolving and updating. Not only users but also peers, can post videos and rate it. This reduces the number of locations one needs to go to to search for information.

Revit Structure 2012 can control the analytical model separate from the structural model. Users can run a proper analysis and visualize what is going on with the model. The new analytical model solves some roundtripping issues with the analytical software and can be visualized, printed and distributed.

There are 24 planar models in the software. In all Revit products, documentation has been included. This is a real plus for the construction industry as users can derive better information from the design model now to document shop drawings for construction – for precast walls, columns, beams and floors.

For collaboration and visualization, an example may be where the architect needs to bring in the furniture designer who uses AutoCAD Architecture into layout. The architect can convert the Revit model into the DWG format and can use 3ds Max design to create high quality visuals of the project, that can be shared with the owner.

Building Design Suite 2012

Mark Strassman talked about the state of the industry, mentioning that they are not launching Plant 2012 at this time, but are focusing on construction.

Some fast facts:

What contractors care about, according to Strassman, are cost, schedule and constructability.

Contractors want to win projects with more predictability and less risk. They are responsible for managing all the contracts to get the building built.

A formula for this is: design, bid, build = design, install, build

They want to be able to work mobilely, and change information into knowledge.

Many contractors need to access ERP systems. They can use AutoCAD WS in the field, QTO, and Inventor for fabrication, also Inventor Publisher Mobile for onsite instructions.

The products Vault, Buzzsaw and Constructware are not in the Building Design Suite; they are a separate AEC data collaboration solution.

Suffolk Construction

Peter Campot, president, Suffolk Construction, gave a keynote about his company’s use of Autodesk products. Suffolk Construction is a $1.6 billion U.S. company that employs 1200 people.

Campot said he has been responsible for $5 billion of construction projects and is now responsible for $1.5 billion in life sciences and technology. “There has to be a way to do this better,” he said, adding: “Construction productivity has decreased over the last 50 years.”

The reason for this is that buildings have become more complex. Now every building is a prototype, according to Campot, asking “What other industry does this? We need to transition from a “design as you go” design and constructing process to a building manufacturing process.” He suggested that building virtually before breaking ground is the way to go.

“98% of what contractors use BIM for right now is for clash detection,” said Campot.

Campot sees that most contractors are contracted to provide as-builts, but thinks that they should be building it exactly as per design, which gives the ability to do pre-fab.

Suffolk’s projects are big complex structures like Baystate Medical Center. By utilizing BIM all beam penetrations were coordinated with steel fabrication, resulting in a saving of $650,000.

They avoided the mad rush at the end by using BIM for constructability and increased the use of pre-fab through the penthouse. It was built exactly like the model, and they reduced the number of RFIs by 2/3. “This translates to about $800,000 in savings,” said Campot.

Not only did they save money in that way, they transformed the coordination process, and completed six months early, making sure all the products fit.

At the University of Massachusetts, Albert Sherman Research Center, the firm did eight models – including a parallel model, a parallel constructability model, and design model.

They saved $600,000 on steel by having the model done early. They then coordinated all the steel and had the factory produce it six months ahead of time.

Success factors for this project included:

“We need to go towards where architects are responsible for design intent, and contractors are responsible for constructability,” said Campot. “We have to be willing to spend more money up front.”

Campot also contends that no material is being wasted unless you change the fabrication, so make it pre-fab.

Cities of the Future

James Moore, senior vice president of National Community Planning & Urban Design and principal, HDR spoke on the topic, “Cities of the Future and the Future of Cities: Challenges and Opportunities.”

In parts of older cities such as the city of Boston, which is over 300 years old, the city functions pretty well, regardless of when they were built. “As things change, it doesn’t invalidate what was built before,” said Moore. “The technology used to build skyscrapers is not dramatically different than what is used to build the two and three story buildings in the North End.”

Moore noted that at least 50% of the world’s population lives in cities. There is a need to grow future cities, as the post war American model for building cities is probably not sustainable. The goal is to “create high quality of life at very low consumption levels.”

Being a sustainable community carries some responsibility – cities such as Copenhagen and Amsterdam have the right idea with their commitment to people riding bicycles to work and wherever else they have to go. As fuel prices are on the rise, working far away from home is not desirable and can raise the total cost of living. Moore said biking is the most energy efficient form of transportation.

Energy, air, water, food natural resources, waste, buildings and facilities , mobility, economy, human services, knowledge, culture, land use and community form are all elements of a city.

Moore said we lead with technical expertise instead of with vision. It is necessary to adopt a data driven approach. Data must support the vision that supports the integrated plan that supports an assessment.

Technology used can include building information modeling, geospatial, sensor data, and quantitative data and qualitative that can all be combined into a single entity.

Top News of the Week

Newforma announced that it will host its first annual user conference, Nugget2011, for Newforma customers to share and discover new ways to leverage the Newforma PIM solution to streamline project delivery work processes, increase profitability and mitigate risk. The event, which is sponsored by Deltek, Trump Systems, NFS and smartsoftware offers two days of knowledge sessions with both Newforma representatives and customers presenting on April 27 and 28 at the Chicago Marriott Downtown in Chicago, Illinois.

Autodesk’s AutoCAD WS now has a “Connect to Service” feature, which includes the ability to access all your Box content from within the WS interface. This is especially interesting since the AutoCAD WS team has a philosophy that very much mirrors our own – they want to make all of your CAD drawings accessible from anywhere on any device. As part of this launch, they have not only a web-based editor and viewer, but also apps for the iPhone and iPad as well as Android devices.

Axiom announces the release of new software that helps eliminate the hassles normally associated translating files between MicroStation and AutoCAD. The highly-anticipated new software, Translation Manager, simplifies the process of translating files between MicroStation and AutoCAD and greatly improves the results.


Cadac Organice, Microsoft Partner Network member and developer of Cadac Organice (a SharePoint based engineering document management solution), has signed a partnership agreement with AEC Docuflow to resell the Cadac Organice Product Suite in Australia.

Trimble announced  that it has joined the buildingSMART alliance to help develop industry standards to streamline the collection and use of construction data in support of Building Information Modeling (BIM). Trimble will join a small group of owners, designers, contractors, educators, and solution providers as part of the alliance.

Deltek, Inc. announced it will partner with LogiKal, a specialist project management consultancy, to deliver its Enterprise Project Management (EPM) solutions to companies in the UK and throughout Europe. LogiKal provides its clients with integrated schedule planning, project controls, Active Project Management Office (APMO) services and programme management consulting support to help organise people, processes and systems effectively.


Integrated Environmental Solutions (IES) announced that project manager, Liam Buckley, earned the Building Energy Modeling Professional certification from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).

Bentley Systems, Incorporated announced that its protest of the California Department of General Services’ (DGS) procurement process for roadway design software (RDS) has been denied. The software was being solicited on behalf of the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), and the protest denial was issued by the California Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH). The protest was prompted by DGS’ disqualification of Bentley from the bidding due to allegedly inadequate documentation in its written response to Request for Proposal (RFP) RDS 2660-421.

Market conditions continued to improve for landscape architecture firms, with firm leaders reporting renewed optimism for billable hours, inquiries and hiring in Q1 2011 American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Business Quarterly survey.

More than two thirds of firm leaders (67.9 percent) reported stable or higher billable hours in the first quarter of 2011, an increase from 59.6 percent last quarter and 56.4 percent this time last year. Three out of four (76.6 percent) respondents reported stable or rising inquiries for new work in Q1 2011, up from 59.4 percent last quarter and 72.2 percent from Q1 2010.

Bringing PDFs and RPMs together in a unique and 'eXtreme' learning experience, Bluebeam Software  announced that registration is now open for its first-ever Bluebeam International Rally Conference 2011 (IRC). This event promises three action-packed days of high-octane educational sessions focused on Bluebeam's PDF platform and advanced technologies along with a once-in-a-lifetime rally car racing experience with a team of Swedish professional rally car drivers.

Motion Computing announced that Texas-based commercial contractor SpawGlass has implemented Motion F5v Tablet PCs as part of its enterprise-wide building information modeling (BIM) adoption strategy. With the F5v Tablet PCs in place, SpawGlass is saving time, improving efficiency and streamlining project site management, all while providing the project owners with a portable asset management solution.

Research and Markets  has announced the addition of the "Top 100 Construction & Civil Engineering (Global)" report to their offering.

This report is an in-depth financial evaluation of the Global Top 100 largest Construction & Engineering companies. Using the unique Plimsoll method of analysis, each of the Global Top 100 Construction & Engineering Companies is individually assessed and ranked against each other and compared to industry averages.

Using the most up-to-date financial information available, the two-page analysis provides detailed financial analysis for each organisation, including details of:

Results are shown in graphical, numeric and narrative forms, and all individual analysis are measured in both the company's own currency, and USD ($) for ease of use. These individual analyses highlight a company's success just as easily as it can emphasize its vulnerability.

The editors of MIT’s Technology Review have announced their annual list of the 10 emerging technologies that have the greatest potential to transform our world. These innovations—each represented by a researcher whose vision and work is driving the field—promise fundamental shifts in areas from energy to health care, computing to communications. Each TR10 winner is drawn from the editors’ coverage of key fields, and the ultimate criterion is straightforward: is the technology likely to change the world?

The 10 technologies are: social indexing, smart transformers, gestural interfaces, cancer genomics, solid-state batteries, homomorphic encryption, cloud streaming, crash proof code, separating chromosones, and synthetic cells.

The 2011 TR10 is featured in the May/June edition of Technology Review and is posted on the Web at Technology Review/TR10.

New Products

Oce, a Canon Group Company and an international leader in digital document management and printing for professionals,  announced the new Oce Arizona® 360 GT and Oce Arizona 360 XT flatbed printer models with enhancements over previous models that enable its customers to increase productivity and application versatility and open doors to technical and industrial applications. The Oce Arizona 360 GT printer will be on display in the Oce booth #4258 at the International Sign Expo in Las Vegas, NV, April 28-30, 2011.

Bentley Systems, Incorporated announced that it is showcasing this week at FIATECH 2011 the first commercially available products to support two-way interoperability with ISO 15926. Bentley is presenting a live demonstration of the ease with which component data and information can be shared with systems deployed by iRING user community members Bechtel, Hatch, and Emerson Process Management, as well as among Bentley’s ISO 15926-based AXSYS.Process V8i conceptual design application, OpenPlant PowerPID V8i application, and Instrumentation & Wiring V8i design software. All of the read/write information exchanges being demonstrated are seamlessly accomplished using the same interface. Moreover, they require only a one-time, simplified mapping, allowing multiple reuses and repurposing of data by making it unambiguous. In real-world projects, these data exchanges lead to lower administration costs, higher quality data, increased productivity, and reduced project and business risk.

Around the Web

AECCafe Today Blog

The installer for the Google Earth Extension for AutoCAD supports:
AutoCAD 2011 Family
AutoCAD 2011 (32-bit and 64-bit)
AutoCAD Architecture 2011 (32-bit and 64-bit)
AutoCAD Map 3D 2011 (32-bit and 64-bit)
AutoCAD 2007-2010 Family

AutoCAD 2007-2010 (32-bit only)
AutoCAD Architecture 2007-2010 (32-bit only)
AutoCAD Map 3D 2008-2010 (32-bit only)
The 2011 compatible version will work with AutoCAD 2012, but the installer will not find it because it is searching for 2011. So if you follow these steps, you can extract the components and utilize upload to use the Google Earth Extension with our newest AutoCAD.

Download Google Earth Extension for AutoCAD via Autodesk Labs

ADN Plugin of the Month Catalog on Autodesk Labs

Qatar's construction industry to see influx of more than USD 22 billion in new contract awards by 2012 April 27, 2011, Zawya

Koontz McCombs Construction Building Global HQ for Kinetic Concepts, Inc. April 26, 2011, PRWeb


NAHB National Green Building Conference
Date: May 1 - 3, 2011
Place: Salt Palace Convention Center
Salt Lake City, UT USA

At the  NAHB National Green Building Conference, you'll have the opportunity to meet with suppliers and manufacturers of green products. In the exhibit hall as well as events, you'll have the chance to meet with representatives to discuss solutions that can help you in the remodeling and building process.  Walk away with the resources that you--and the homeowner--need to make your projects successful.
Sustaining Transportation Infrastructure Seminar Featuring Power InRoads
Date: May 4, 2011
Place: Denver, CO USA

The Bentley Civil Team is hitting the road, traveling across the nation to deliver complimentary transportation seminars that focus on DOT/MOT standards, practices, and processes. Don't miss these convenient, cost-effective opportunities to experience first-hand just how easily Bentley's proven technology and intuitive software streamline processes throughout the entire transportation project lifecycle. There are some places only Bentley can take you!
Sustaining Transportation Infrastructure Seminar Featuring Power GEOPAK
Date: May 5, 2011
Place: Columbia, SC USA

The Bentley Civil Team is hitting the road, traveling across the nation to deliver complimentary transportation seminars that focus on DOT/MOT standards, practices, and processes. Don't miss these convenient, cost-effective opportunities to experience first-hand just how easily Bentley's proven technology and intuitive software streamline processes throughout the entire transportation project lifecycle. There are some places only Bentley can take you!
AIA 2011 National Convention and Design Exposition
Date: May 12 - 14, 2011
Place: Ernest N. Morial Convention Center , New Orleans, LA USA

AIA Expo2011 introduces you to more than 800 exhibitors to discover new products, technologies, and services—professional resources that you can implement in your practice or project. You’ll have the opportunity to see and touch products, to get detailed information, and to ask questions of the manufacturer representatives. AIA Expo2011 will also house special display areas, educational opportunities, pavilions and association offerings.
Introduction to GeoStructural Analysis Products by Bentley Systems
Date: May 12, 2011
Place: eSeminar

Time: 8:00 a.m. PDT | 10:00 a.m. CDT | 11:00 a.m. EDT | 5:00 p.m. CEST
Duration: 1 hour
Register now for this complimentary introduction to Bentley’s GeoStructural Analysis products, your complete geostructural analysis and design solution for a wide range of geotechnical challenges.
Optimize your designs from foundation to stability analysis to finite element method modeling. You’ll learn how task-targeted tools and logical workflows enable you to analyze design scenarios and compare results from multiple analysis methods quickly, easily, and with greater accuracy.

Deltek Insight 2011
Date: May 16 - 19, 2011
Place: Gaylord Opryland Hotel
Nashville, TN USA

Deltek Insight 2011 is the only event of the year where you can exchange ideas and network with business peers,industry analysts, executives, product experts and consultants.
Webinar Event: How Clayco Improved Cost Management with Integrated Financials and Prolog Construction Project Management
Date: May 19, 2011
Place: USA

Clayco, Inc. is one of the nation’s largest privately owned real estate, architecture and engineering, design/build and construction firms with a national reputation for excellence that has been earned through achievements in safety management, fast-track schedules and technology and design innovation.
International CAD Consortium 2011
Date: May 22 - 26, 2011
Place: Omni Fort Worth
1300 Houston Street, Fort Worth , TX 76102 USA

The International CAD Consortium (ICC) is a non-profit organization comprised of leaders working in the field of public safety to implement technological solutions for emergency response organizations (police force, fire department, 911, etc.). ICC members come from municipalities, emergency services or a regional corporation and they are namely responsible for providing emergency call dispatching systems, communication infrastructures, geomatics solutions and for managing communication centers as well as all other activities directly related to the routing of emergency workers to emergency response sites.
Success Enterprise Class
Date: May 26 - 27, 2011
Place: Atlanta, GA USA

Seats are available in our upcoming Success Estimator class. Sign-up now because seating is limited!

The course is two days in length. The registration fee for class is $995.00 per person with special pricing for multiple participants.

You can find the full AECCafe event calendar here.

To read more news, click here.

-- Susan Smith, AECCafe.com Managing Editor.