1993: Autodesk University
The year 1993 was a tough year for NAAUG. The organization had been wildly successful in the eyes of Autodesk, third-party developers and the membership, but Phil Kreiker and his new administration were suddenly asked, "What are we all about after the annual general meeting is over? If this was to be a true user group, did it have a function outside of this successful yearly gathering?" To answer these questions, a great deal of time and energy went into creating appreciable membership benefits, such as the annual resource disk: a compilation of utilities, drivers, patches and programs to enhance Autodesk software (primarily AutoCAD). It set the format and purpose for our current annual CDROM.
NAAUG scheduled its first major road show series, hitting Boston, Atlanta, Chicago, Seattle and Los Angeles with regional meetings supported by the local user groups in each of these cities. The road shows included several very well-delivered presentations by Autodesk employees on the latest software and technology coming from Autodesk, and NAAUG provided two sessions at each site on the purpose and benefits of joining NAAUG and their famous Wish List session. Attendance was typically over 200 people a site, and in the eyes of Autodesk's Americas Marketing VP Godfrey Sullivan the events were successful both for Autodesk (who sponsored the road shows) and for NAAUG officers who attended. A grueling five-day schedule (yes...five days, five cities...we were beat!) but it proved to AutoCAD users everywhere for the first time that NAAUG was not limited to the San Francisco Bay Area.
To further answer Phil's call to provide ongoing benefits to the membership, the NAAUG Telecourse Program was created and implemented. For the first time ever, members who could not attend the annual general meeting still had a way to learn from each other about new ways to use existing software, to network on discipline-specific issues involving the software, and to be exposed to new features in the latest releases. The telecourses were offered on CompuServe and PCGnet (a BBS-based modem network at the time) making it possible for everyone, regardless of budget or work hours, to still participate in NAAUG programs.
Additionally, Autodesk and Miller Freeman Publishing expanded the educational elements of the NAAUG annual meeting into the event we now know as Autodesk University. This event was incredible, the amount of organization that went into developing a real curriculum that "students" could register for was phenomenal. For the first time NAAUG attendees could take long tutorial hands-on lab sessions, and the events were held in the same location as opposed to being spread out.
But unfortunately, the registration fee doubled to cover the costs of this event, and many members who had been with NAAUG since the beginning REALLY began to question whether the event was still worth it. Held in downtown San Francisco, hotel and other travel expenses also increased. It was not uncommon for someone to have shelled out over $2,000 to attend NAAUG's meeting that year...a drastic change from the previous year's $1,000.
Other problems included a lack of places for users to sit, relax and network casually. Food was expensive and couldn't be brought into the location. And, unlike previous years, classes required pre-registration. If you didn't like the classes you had signed up for, there was no opportunity to sign up for others. This really upset a lot of people.
At the annual meeting and during the usual Wish List and Bylaws review session, suggestions were made to broaden the organization's scope internationally to follow Autodesk's worldwide expansion. The membership simply wasn't ready for this, and turned the proposal down. This was also the year that Generic CADD, acquired by Autodesk, was discontinued, which really disappointed a lot of Generic CAD fans.
The toughest thing of all was that NAAUG had somehow lost control over the educational aspect of its annual event. One of NAAUG's main draws had been the opportunity for users to teach users, and this was suddenly out of NAAUG's hands. I spoke with literally hundreds of NAAUG members at Autodesk University that year about the event and the consensus overall was, "I thought this was OUR event. What happened?" This was also John Forbes' last year with Autodesk and NAAUG. He was voted outstanding member of the year for all his efforts at creating and growing the organization.
It was a tough year. But I suppose any organization that grows that fast and is that successful is bound to experience some bumps. I don't think NAAUG, Autodesk or Miller Freeman intended to upset or disempower the organization by implementing the AU event...and AU did eventually get smoothed out a lot, and has evolved into a professionally-organized, well-equipped, well-publicized and well-attended educational opportunity for users to network and to teach each other about productivity.
The Board of Directors elected for the following year were:
President: LeAnne Thurmond / LCT Associates
President-Elect: Paul Jackson / Honeywell, Inc.
Secretary: Don Brown / Strategic Alliances & Marketing
Treasurer: Thomas Short / Command Train, Inc.
LUG Representative: Dave Espinosa-Aguilar / Arizona CADD Systems Inc.
SIG Representative: Doug Medley / CAD Resources
AEC SIG Chair: Mike Harkins / Pulte Home Corporation
Mechanical SIG Chair: John Anderson / Washington Water Power
GIS SIG Chair: Robert Schulz / California State University
AppProg SIG Chair: Steve McGuinness / AEROTEK
Process & Power SIG Chair: Larry Gore / Tatman Associates, Inc.
Education & Training SIG Chair: David Minkin / Memphis State University
Multimedia SIG Chair: Ted Boardman / Wentworth Institute of Technology
Retail Products SIG Chair: Randall Newton / Sumac Publishing
Senior Autodesk Rep: Bill Barnes / Autodesk
Manager User Group Services: Kelly Daniels / Autodesk
Manager of User Group Services Multimedia: Kathy Clinton / Autodesk