I had the good fortune to attend Autodesk University (AU) 2022 in New Orleans, USA, this fall. This was the first in-person AU event in three years, since the previous two were virtual events due to COVID-19. ASCENT had a booth in the main exhibit hall, and I was tasked to staff the booth along with a couple of my colleagues.
It was a lot of fun to meet existing customers and potential new customers. I also managed to attend some interesting sessions on a variety of infrastructure markets where future trends and possibilities were discussed. It’s always good to keep abreast of such potential developments for us instructional designers to plan for our own courseware evolution.
The attendance numbers were somewhat lower than in previous years, though this is not surprising as there is still anxiety about COVID and the conference was held in a new location. However, I felt that the quality of the attendees was fantastic – they were enthusiastic, and folks seemed excited and happy to be there.
(With my colleague, Ronda Wiley at the ASCENT booth)
Within the exhibit hall were many great products, demonstrations, and vendors. There were robotic dogs, a variety of portable laser scanners, virtual reality and augmented reality gear, 3D printers, etc. Our modest booth contained some printed courseware for attendees to browse through, along with an iPad containing a library of our eLearning courses.
I thought that amidst all the high-tech, splashy exhibitions, we would hardly be noticed. But I was wrong – those humble books were an eye-catcher! I didn’t see any other physical books on display anywhere in the exhibit area, so ours stood out, not only for being unique, but also because there is recognition value in our brand and our Autodesk Authorized Publisher designation. At a lunch table during the conference, someone was staring at my shirt and then explained they were trying to remember where they had seen the logo. When I explained what we do, they recalled having some of our books on their bookshelf at work and how they would use them as a refresher or reference. Others would walk by our booth, recognize the brand, and stop in and chat. It was nice to talk with customers on a technical level, especially on courseware that I have been involved with creating. I gathered advice and opinions on the courses, and some customers even showed me their projects that were created with the software they had learned how to use from our courses. That was quite humbling.
Booth visitors also commented on how they liked the approach we take when developing our courses, which balance the lecture material with exercises. The lecture parts are not merely snippets that could be found in help documentation or through Google, but explain the WHY as much as the HOW.
Events like Autodesk University tend to be quite draining, with long days and high levels of energy needed. The wrap-up party on the last day was a nice relief. There was lots to do: different bands playing, some old-fashioned games like air hockey and pinball, and a variety of other entertainment.
It was great to be back in person at a work event, and I deem it a success! I for one got a lot out of it and made some good contacts, and we introduced our products (and ourselves) to a variety of new people. If you attended AU in New Orleans this year, let us know what you thought of the event. We plan to be back in person next year, and we hope to see you there!
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