For the first 10 years of AUGI/NAAUG's history, the membership had remained under 10,000 members. Bear in mind that this was not any indication of the organization's influence or success... most of these members were representatives, managers, and power users of the nation's strongest CAD-centric companies. However, once AUGI opened the floodgates to the universe of users by dropping its membership dues, its membership skyrocketed in size and this presented some pretty big challenges to the Board of Directors and the organization's current infrastructure.
AUGI had complete control over its budget and its website content now, it had the talents of members like Stephen Cotton, Scott McFarlane and other highly talented website and database management volunteers at its disposal, and AUGI's website began to explode into action. For starters, Email became the definitive means by which AUGI maintained contact with its membership (instead of the older published newsletter or through snail mailings). The Guilds became streamlined email forums for technical support on every major product Autodesk was putting out. The Local User Group online directory was completely overhauled to enable local user group contacts to maintain their own records for people to find them and know the latest information about them.
AUGI introduced HotNews, a regularly emailed newsletter enabling anyone using Autodesk products to stay in touch with the user community. The membership sign-up process was overhauled to create a serious database of user profiles so that industry groups and other focus groups within AUGI could finally be contacted according to discipline. The organization opened its E Store this year, offering those members who had always enjoyed AUGI's tangible benefits (tee-shirt, mug, etc) through membership dues to continue enjoying them by purchasing them online.
This was also the first year that Autodesk finally took AUGI's advice on holding the Autodesk University event and the AUGI Annual General Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada. Not only was this city extremely cheap to fly to and stay in, but the conference facilities at MGM were a perfect fit for the event, the nighttime entertainment scene was ... FREE (anyone remember how expensive AUGI's single 'night at Universal Studios' event was in a previous year? Fun, but OUCH).
Amazingly enough, news got out that year that certain higher-ups at Autodesk were actually thinking of dropping the Autodesk University event altogether for a variety of reasons that could only make sense to people who had never attended this event and had absolutely no grasp of its significance to their company. Fortunately, some of these same people experienced first hand the overwhelming success of the Vegas event at the last minute and through customer and user outrage and obvious enthusiasm felt at the event itself, changed their minds about this decision.
Out of the literally hundreds of people i asked who attended the Vegas event if they liked this new venue, not one of them wasn't thrilled with the thoroughly affordable hotel rates, high-caliber hotel rooming provided, the food provided throughout the week, the classroom and conference facilities and of course the amazingly low airfare to get there. After past years of high-priced venues in San Francisco, Chicago and Atlanta, this year's event was true relief for many users' pocketbooks (and Autodesk's budgets!!), and it appears that AU and AUGI will continue to be hosted there for the next few years because of the overwhelming success of this first event held there.
Another highly significant change that took place this year was an overhaul of the "Board of Directors Model." Being a former Board member myself, let me explain in simple terms why this happened using the office of President as an example of the problem the Board was faced with. When I got elected President, it wasn't because it was known by the membership that I was "President material." No one really had a clue what skills I had which lent themselves specifically to representing the entire organization to Autodesk or the membership. They had my 10 minute speech to go on, and that was it. And folks, that could have spelled real disaster for the organization if I had been a thoroughly competent AutoCAD user and a disastrously incompetent speaker, manager, and representative. This same danger driven by our current voting process presented itself to every role on the Board. AUGI has been incredibly fortunate over the last 10 years to have had people who were both competent users, managers and presenters, but we've also had a few incidents which have made this Achilles Heel of ours blatant to Autodesk and the membership and in some cases it really crippled us.
How do you offer the most powerful positions in the organization to any member, and at the same time qualify members for those roles that demand vital skills sets unassociated with software proficiency? The answer: you create Board Member positions with no designated roles except voting power (reflective of the general membership's mandates of course), and you fill certain roles requiring certain skill sets with members who are qualified for them. Simple, and everyone wins. So now there are several Board Member positions into which any AUGI member can be elected, and there are certain positions requiring certain skills sets (such as presentation skills for the role of President) which can be filled by people qualified to do so.
The following members were elected to the next term as the original Board of Director positions began to be phased out:
President: John Gibb / CFI
Vice-President: David Harrington / Walter P. Moore and Associates
Vice-President: Yoshi Honda / Pacific CADD Services, Inc.
Secretary: John Clauson / Indak Mfg. Corp.
Treasurer: Donnia Tabor-Hanson / Designers Alliance, Inc.
Board Member: Scott McFarlane / Epoch, Inc.
Board Member: Phillip Shivel / MBAJ Architects
Board Member: David Kingsley / CAD TV Corp.
Board Member: Marv Muston / Turner Associates
Board Member: Bob Diaz / Community College of Southern Nevada