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December 14, 2009
Autodesk University 2009 AEC 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!

Welcome to AECWeekly!

AECWeekly is a news magazine featuring important industry news profiles, a summary of recently published AEC product and company news, customer wins, and coming events. Brought to you by AECCafe.

AECWeekly examines select top news each week, picks out worthwhile reading from around the web, and special interest items you might not find elsewhere. This issue will feature Industry News, Top News of the Week, Alliances, Agreements, Acquisitions, Announcements, New Products, Around the Web and Upcoming Events.

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Industry News
Autodesk University 2009 AEC Report

By Susan Smith

CEO Carl Bass
This year’s AU, held at the Mandalay Bay, kicked off with a General Session/Welcome Address, with beginning remarks by Autodesk evangelist Lynn Allen. CEO Carl Bass began his keynote by saying he was encouraged by “signs that the economy is getting better.”

He added that customers around world say their primary challenge is in trying to stay competitive. Because of the tough economy and more complex projects, customers need to work more efficiently.

Bass’s keynote focused mainly on the areas in which Autodesk has excelled: design, both architectural and mechanical and most recently 3D plant design. AEC and sustainability were predominant themes at the conference, as infrastructure planning feeds into all Autodesk’s industry segments.

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Lynn Allen, Autodesk evangelist
Using a timeline, Bass showed how successful technologies move in a continuum from impossible to impractical, then possible, then to expected and finally to required. He pointed out that flying was considered impossible except by those like Leonardo Da Vinci. It’s required in today’s society. Timing of the technology is a critical factor, if it’s too early, it won’t be embraced, people aren’t ready for it; if it’s too late, it misses the boat. In this continuum there is a sweet spot.

Five design capabilities or technologies are currently moving from impractical into the sweet spot, said Bass:
Exploration, analysis, storytelling, collaboration, and access.

The technological development accelerating these technologies is cloud computing – or web based computing, which is “becoming as cheap and reliable as electricity, so we can take greater advantage of computing power,” said Bass. It is a very big platform shift, and he said a shift like this comes along every ten to 20 years.

An example of the use of this computing power is Autodesk’s Project Twitch, currently in Autodesk Labs, utilizing cloud computing so that users can access Autodesk software directly from the web running on a distant server.


Dr. Amory Lovins, sustainable design pioneer, CEO and president of the Rocky Mountain Institute, spoke on “Whole System Thinking.”

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Lovins said that the strongest tool we have to attain this “whole system thinking” is to improve how we design. Design has “multiple benefits, single cost,” according to Lovins. “In conventional thinking you invest in efficiency until its marginal costs are met, but if you invest continually, you are tumbling through the cost barrier to achieve expanding returns.”

He gave the example of how his organization retrofitted the Empire State Building to save 38% energy, using windows that let in light without heat, better lights and office equipment, which resulted in $4.4 million saved per year.

Looking at transportation, he pointed out that 86% of fuel never gets to the gas tanks of the vehicles. “A huge benefit is in making the cars lighter weight, reduce the mass of car first,” said Lovins. “Our company created a 2/3 smaller power train, and radically simplified manufacturing, and this car gets 56% savings on gas. If we made all our light trucks and cars this way we could save enough to not have to get oil from Saudi Arabia.”


Software companies are all undergoing some internal shifting to accommodate the economic downturn, and Autodesk is no exception.

Phil Bernstein, vice president of industry strategy and relations for AEC Solutions
Consolidation has happened at Autodesk. At a press breakfast at AU, Phil Bernstein, FAIA, vice president of industry strategy and relations for AEC, shed some light on Autodesk’s reorganization, by speaking about what AEC was now at Autodesk.

Last year, AEC was comprised of Building and Civil. Now the AEC division is comprised of building, infrastructure, plant and civil, with civil expanded to include water, wastewater and utilities.

In the past, water, wastewater and utilities were under the heading “infrastructure,” and considered the domain of geospatial at Autodesk, but it seems infrastructure has taken to mean the built environment and therefore utilities, water and wastewater fit into the category vis-à-vis their built needs.

Paul McRoberts, vice president of infrastructure, described how Map 3D and Topobase are used to aggregate and reconcile data for reporting back out. Map 3D and Topobase are used for records management and planning for property management. Visualization will be huge in transportation, he said, with the ability of LandXplorer to create visualizations of cities and roads in very little time.

McRoberts talked about utilizing weather data in Green Building Studio for design purposes, looking at erratic temperatures, rainfall, floods; all those weather peculiarities that can impact design, and using technology to predict them.

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A discussion ensued about how Google SketchUp is “everywhere” and it is free. Users can use it in concert with IES VE-Ware to create free analysis. The question is, why would they want to buy Ecotect and Green Building Studio for analysis when SketchUp and VE-Ware are free?

In a later conversation with Avatech Solutions’ executives, they said that Autodesk customers are staying with the upgrade path in building design. More customers are “doing more with less” and cutting steps out of their processes. Civil 3D is now transitioning from a shelf product to being used widely.

3D Laser Scanning

In this past year there has been a growth of interest in 3D laser scanning of the built environment. As Stimulus funding is earmarked for renovation and retrofits of buildings, 3D laser scanning is now a relatively cost effective and very accurate way to aggregate data from existing buildings. Vendors of this technology say that the price has come down so that customers are no longer only large firms, but smaller firms can now afford to have laser scanning done. This scanning can also include lidar data, which of course, is a product of the geospatial industry.

Visualization and Simulation

Producer John Landau of Lightstorm Entertainment gave a presentation on the visual effects used in the soon-to-be-released feature film, Avatar. Landau partnered with producer/writer James Cameron on this film as well as the Titanic, where he said they “broke new ground in using visualization effects as a storytelling device.”

Avatar is shot fully in what is called “autostereoscopic 3D,” that does not require 3D glasses and uses Autodesk technology. Alioscopy USA is a provider of this autostereoscopic 3D technology. Lightstorm has a virtual camera technology that is used to look around in a scene. The actors see the world with themselves in the animation. The camera man can work with all captured performances and track the position of each character as though the viewpoint is a camera view into that virtual world. “It acts how you expect a camera to act in real life, as close to real life action as you can get in a CG world,” said Landau.

Carl Bass said that visualization and simulation offer ways to extend the use of design for planning and marketing concepts.

AutoCAD Plant 3D 2010

For more on this product please see On the Road to Revolutionizing 3D Plant Design in the October 5, 2009 issue of AECWeekly.

Seven Tech Trends of Design

Vice president of Autodesk Labs Brian Matthews gave a presentation on the “Seven Tech Trends of Design” which are addressed by products in research and development at Autodesk Labs.

The seven tech trends are as follows:
  1. Analog to digital
  2. Cloud computing
  3. Digital to analog
  4. 3D laser – cloud data
  5. Human-centered design
  6. Web based design
  7. Digital reality – visualization, simulation and analysis
Areas discussed included:The “project” products are all part of Autodesk Content.

Autodesk Seek

Singled out is Autodesk Seek, which incorporates information from Project Showroom and Project Dragonfly. Autodesk reports that US $5-$10 billion a year is spent on marketing by building product manufacturers.

According to Scott Hale, vice president, Consulting Services for Avatech Solutions, in one year the market for linking architects with building product manufacturers has “exploded.” The advent of Seek is right on target with the need to bring product information into the Revit model and to be able to share it out with other decision makers.

Please visit AECCafe Today blog for more reports on Autodesk University, also GISWeekly December 7, 2009.

Top News of the Week

Meridian Systems announced the release of Proliance® software version 4.0. Providing infrastructure lifecycle management (ILM) capabilities to companies managing large capital building programs, Proliance 4.0 incorporates customer-driven enhancements, streamlined integration with Microsoft Outlook, and additional security enhancements for public sector agencies.


Autodesk, Inc. has announced that its online Education Community has grown to one million student and educator members representing over 28,000 educational institutions in 147 countries since its launch in 2006.

Autodesk chose the SAP(R) Carbon Impact on-demand solution from SAP AG to manage its own carbon footprint. SAP Carbon Impact will help Autodesk more clearly measure, mitigate and monetize greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental impacts across its internal operations and supply chain.

New Products

Integrated Environmental Solutions (IES), a provider of integrated performance analysis software and consulting services for sustainable building design, unveiled at Autodesk University 2009 the second generation of its Revit Plug-in, which offers enhanced model transfer capabilities. The latest IES VE Revit Plug-in (v6.0.3) can now handle more challenging and complex geometry, as well as offering users the option to choose the level of geometry detail exported.

Dell continues to push the boundaries of mobile performance by announcing the world’s most powerful mobile workstation — the Dell Precision M6500.
Shown publicly for the first time at Autodesk University, the Dell Precision M6500 is designed to liberate creative professionals, designers, animators, engineers and research scientists from their desk without sacrificing performance. The M6500 also supports the missions of defense customers who require uncompromised performance and security, including authentication and data encryption, when in the field. Available for order now, the Dell Precision M6500 mobile workstation has a starting price of $2,749.

Holistic City Software has revised its software release schedule and CityCAD 2.0 will now be released in early 2010.
Development work and alpha testing is ongoing - more details and preview to follow.
CityCAD 2.0 will be the most significant new release since the original launch in June 2008. New features will include:-
Adapx announced the availability of Capturx for Microsoft Office OneNote 2.0. In addition to new support for larger 8-1/2 x 11 notebooks, the upgraded product also now enables the printing of unlimited blank notebook sheets on ordinary paper for use with Capturx digital pens and OneNote. Teams simply write in Capturx notebooks or on blank printed pages with digital pens. All the information is automatically integrated into OneNote -- where it is backed up, searchable, and sharable in email or other Microsoft Office applications.

Misumi USA, Inc., a subsidiary of Misumi Corporation, part of Misumi Group, Inc. (Tokyo: 9962) announces that the Misumi 3D CAD Model library in CD-ROM format is now available upon request, free of charge, to machine builders, automation system designers and product design engineers.

Trimble announced the release of Trimble Construction Manager version 2.5, a remote construction asset management solution. The new version offers polygon site management and enhanced support for Computer Aided Design (CAD) map overlays with imagery provided by Google Maps.

Around the Web


The ADN plugin of the month for December is the Layer Reporter for AutoCAD 2007 (and later) that was written by Terry Dotson, from DotSoft, and edited by Kean Walmsley for publishing on his blog: Through the Interface. Free Download of Layer Reporter for AutoCAD (includes source code too)


MicroStation V8i Fundamental Training
Date: December 14 - 17, 2009
Place: 8517 Excelsior Dr
Madison, WI 53717 USA

This 4-day course introduces the fundamental features and capabilities of Bentley’s release of MicroStation V8i Edition software. This class is suitable for users new to MicroStation and also to AutoCAD users wishing to understand MicroStation V8i.
Date: December 29, 2009 - January 1, 2010
Place: Hyatt Regency
Minneapolis, MN USA

FORUM is the annual meeting of the AIAS and the global gathering of the architecture and design students. The event provides students with the opportunity to learn about important issues facing architectural education and the profession, to meet students, educators, and professionals with common interests, and to interact with some of today's leading architects through keynote addresses, tours, workshops and seminars.

You can find the full AECCafe event calendar here.

To read more news, click here.

-- Susan Smith, AECCafe.com Managing Editor.