Letter from the President - July 2017
Those of you who follow BLAUGI know that I recently returned from the BILT ANZ 2017 conference in Adelaide, Australia. I already wrote about the specifics of the event in a series of blog posts, so rather than rehashing that here, I thought I’d talk about conferences in general.
The first professional conference I attended was Autodesk University back in 2004. (Actually, I also went to an ASCE conference as a college student... but I’ll be honest, I had no idea what I was doing back then.) Since then, I’ve had the privilege of going to many different events, both for my industry and my hobbies, and I’ve come to realize that there are many similarities between gatherings of like-minded individuals, no matter what the topic of the actual event.
First, the creativity of the community is on full display. Whether it’s Dynamo enthusiasts at a BIM conference or cosplayers at ComicCon, there will be people pushing the limits on what is possible and practical. (Modeling mold in Revit? And using phases to show its repair status? Sure, why not!) If the event is large enough to have an exhibit hall, you can also talk with developers about the neat stuff they’re building to expand the functionality of current programs. Sometimes, you don’t realize something’s a problem... until you run across an app that solves the problem!
Second, there’s the potential for worldwide networking. I have acquaintances now all around the globe—across the US, and from England to Australia and several places in between. Some of these people I met online first, but the connections were solidified by meeting in person. It works the other way, too: I’ve gone to an event across the country and encountered colleagues from my hometown who I’d never actually met before. BILT ANZ gave me a new favorite “small world” story, too: I ran into someone I’d worked with briefly on a project in New York. I live in DC, he lives in Sydney now, and we met at a conference in South Australia. The world really is shrinking.
Third, I absolutely love the “Hey, me too!” responses you get when people share challenges they’ve had. (I’ve been known to refer to AU as “group therapy.”) At events like BILT and AU, you can describe some incredibly obscure quirk or really specialized new feature and find half a dozen other people who have already mastered it. They’re also great places for my fellow CAD and BIM Managers to connect with each other and to share tips and strategies for thriving in a role that you probably didn’t go to school for.
Here at AUGI we are fortunate to be part of an enormous global community—albeit a primarily virtual one. Don’t get me wrong: online communities are great, but since we exist in the physical world, I would encourage you to make connections there, too. Find a conference that matches your professional interests and find a way to attend. Maybe submit a paper to
present, or pitch it to your management as a marketing opportunity for your firm, in addition to the career development you’ll get out of it. Need help with your pitch? The AU website
actually has a “convince your boss” template that you can use to start the conversation.
If going to a formal event really isn’t in the budget, find your local user group. If there isn’t one in your town, consider starting one! Meetup.com has made organizing events and finding people with common interests easier than ever.
And you know what? Odds are, you’ll meet a fellow AUGI member while you’re there!