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Autodesk University 2016

At the end of each year CAD professionals from all over the World travel to Las Vegas, Nevada to Learn, Connect, and Explore at Autodesk University.

As the voting begins for Autodesk University 2017 I wanted to share my thoughts and highlights from the Autodesk University 2016. My original post was last year in December after the conference, this post contains updated links and additional information on my classes including additional highlights.

Last year was different than previous years since I was already home from the conference before the Thanksgiving holiday. This gave me the opportunity to relax and enjoy time with my family. For the past 4 years, I left right after the Thanksgiving leaving all that good food behind for the bright lights of Vegas and Autodesk University. Last year was my 5th consecutive year speaking at the conference, a milestone for me.

I am proud that I can represent my company (Haley and Aldrich) and the AU community (AKN) by providing topics and classes that keep getting accepted.

Highlights from #AU2016 included Open Labs, Family Feud, the Exhibit Hall and over 10,000 CAD professionals from all over the world. This is brief look back at Autodesk University 2016. A memorable time of learning, connecting and exploring from people all over the world in Las Vegas Nevada. Let’s not forget about my face on a giant banner!


Last year I was lab assisting my friend Rick Ellis in two classes and teaching 3 classes. I did not realize how much work that was until I started getting into it late summer. Below shown is a photo I took of Rick Ellis during his GIS for Civil 3D class – CI10904-L: A Practical Guide to GIS in AutoCAD Civil 3D.

The picture below shows everyone following along nicely as Rick teaches the class. We were importing shape data into Civil 3D with the green shapes defining the areas imported. Being a lab assistant may seem easy but you must be prepared to step in and help. Rick does an excellent job of having a very easy to follow handout which makes my job helping him out easier and we have fun as well.


WF19220-L: A Practical Guide to GIS in AutoCAD Civil 3D

I then had to teach a lab and two lectures. My first class was the lab Pumping Up Productivity in the LAB with Macros, One Character at a Time.  I arrived at the lab at 6 am as I was concerned about the dataset. We could not log into the computers and technical problems kept us from starting on time. I went in the hallway at 7:45 am and tried to assure the crowd that we were almost ready. I passed out extra handouts and articles from AUGIWorld which seemed to help.

We began at approximately 8:08 am. I was out of sorts and it took me about 15 minutes to relax and calm down (thank you to my friend, Paul Munford for calming me down). My goal for this class was to provide everything to the user. The dataset, files, and even a PRAXIS workflow was provided to help people as they went back to the office. I am extremely thankful for my 3 great lab assistants who helped me get through a slow start and finish strong as I believe the class was successful.

Click on the image below to be taken to my Macro Customization Collection on the knowledge network


Let me take a moment to introduce and thank again my lab assistants. Look them up on the AU website, they all have classes and resources that you can learn from.

Rick Ellis – Based out of Portland, Oregon Rick is the President of Cadapult Software Solutions. I have to say that most of what I know in Civil 3D I have learned from Rick and his books.

R.K. McSwain –From Houston, Texas comes R.K. who is the owner of and has a secret identity of Hot tip Harry. R.K. has many excellent CAD Manager and Lisp classes at Autodesk University.

Paul Munford– All the way from the Dorchester, Dorset, England comes Paul the owner of  The CAD Setter  Paul dishes out CAD tips from AutoCAD to Inventor all year round.

All 3 of my assistants are well-respected people in the industry and will be speaking at AU this year. Look them up today! We learn from each other and these 3 guys have taught me so much over the years from their books and blog posts. I am very thankful being able to collaborate with such talented professionals.

From left to right: Rick Ellis, R.K. McSwain, Sam Lucido, Paul Munford


Labs are not recorded at Autodesk University. I created a workflow using Project PRAXIS from Autodesk. Follow the link and you will be able to complete all 13 exercises that were covered in the class. At this time there are now 18 exercises; I have been updating during the year and my goal is to have 20 completed exercises with videos prior to Autodesk University 2017.

Under each exercise, there is also a video to help assist and you work through the macros. I hope you find this useful as I believe that this project will put all the resources you need in one location making it easy for you to achieve your goals.


My second was Sheet Sets again, Yes, it happened – No Sheet!  The title of the class was Advanced Topics Using the Sheet Set Manager in AutoCAD. I decided to change my approach from last year and add a few more advanced topics. This is a difficult topic to present since some users believe it is complex from the beginning while other want some more advanced hands-on examples of the SSM. I moved a little slower than normal in the beginning and ended up just covering the more advanced topics in the last 30 minutes of the class. I am happy with this class as the handout is over 80 pages long and is accompanied by over 20 videos to assist users. What I plan to do is develop screencast videos of all the questions I received after the class.

Sheet Sets are a very complex topic and maybe someday I will get to do two sessions. Many of you have asked that we break it out into 2 (basic and advanced). I proposed that but with all the other great content out there it may be hard to fit that in.


Finally, CSI: CAD Standards Implementation. I was asked to present the class live via the web. This was AWESOME! I have never done anything like this before and it was good to see myself live so I can improve on what I do. I covered the CAD Standards Manger on the Ribbon and went through how to create standards files (DWS) and templates (DWT) comparing those to project drawings and making sure they are complying with your company standard. At first, I was a little nervous because I had to stand up but then I remembered that I work with a stand-up desk and I always stand when I present at work so I treated this as just another WebEx and everyone in the audience was in my office. I ended at 51 minutes not intentionally but I skipped the line type section (just showed an example). The reason was simple. During practice in the morning that file locked up twice and I was not going to take the chance of having that happen during a live presentation.


Something always happens but if you practice enough when the problem occurs you will know how to react quickly and……most of the time the audience will not know. Yeah, most of the time. I say that because there are a few of you out there that catch me and I love when you tell me that and we can have a laugh. The interaction with the audience continued for 20 minutes past the 60-minute class length which was very cool. I loaded up AutoCAD and Civil 3D to check the manager and show people if certain scenarios worked or did not work. It became a fun interaction with the audience.

Let’s not forget my Superhero card which Autodesk made for me. Being a comic book collector and fan this little card was one of the coolest things I received. I added some photos of my home in Michigan where we have had lots of snow.

I hope you find all my resources valuable and useful to help you excel in your current role. We together make up this community and learn from each other. I do get by with a little help from my friends.

Those friends are you!

I hope to see you all again at Autodesk University 2017 in Las Vegas next year again. If you have any topics you want to cover send me an email ( or send a note to Autodesk.

I wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Happy Holidays to all of you and your families. Look for more from me in 2017 as technology continues to change which makes us continue the need for learning and growing in this every changing world.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


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