After attending every Las Vegas based Autodesk University (AU), I have compiled a long list of tips for not only surviving but making the most of AU which will be held at the Venetian in Las Vegas. For many attendees Autodesk University is not just 12 hours a day as there are activities virtually around the clock. Pace yourself.
Autodesk University is the premier Autodesk customer event held yearly where several thousand creative design and visualization experts descend on Las Vegas. They arrive wide eyed, craving knowledge from the best in the industry. They leave tired and full of valuable knowledge to make them more productive back at work. This year it is being held a few weeks early than in the past which was typically the week following the US holiday of Thanksgiving adding its own unique challenges.
Think of this post as a Las Vegas style food buffet of Autodesk University tips. Make sure to spread this evolving helpful tips list to all those that may be attending AU.
Event & Networking
- Register at AU and get your badge early: The registration is open Sunday at 4:00 PM to 8:00 pm and Monday 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM. Follow the signs out in the Sands Event area for the registration area.
- First Timers: Attend the AU Orientation Monday evening to learn how to make the most of your AU as well meet other newbies and veterans sharing tips.
Monday, Nov 14, 5:00 PM - 6:30 PM
- AU Dress Code:
Dress business casual and comfortable. Remember this is a professional event where your peers and there are people you may want to network with. This is not the place to wear Bermuda shorts. Wear some fun socks and show off your funky style. Autodesk University Socks
- Business Cards: Bring plenty of business cards to hand out to the people you may meet and want to follow up with.
- Top Notch Classes! After all why are we at AU, the classes and sessions are amazing. Don’t forget to ask questions, rate the classes, and take the knowledge back with you to your office.
- Mix and Mingle: Get to know your fellow attendees and explore new connections and partners.
- Welcome Reception Join your fellow AU attendees and find your feet before classes begin. Enjoy drinks, light snacks, and games, plus make new connections—this is a great opportunity to get social and kick-start your networking.
Monday, Nov 14, 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM
- Community Reception Grab a free beverage and explore the explore the Exhibit Hall.
Tuesday, Nov 15, 6:00 PM 9:00 PM
- Party at the Promenade The annual epic AU party is a must to attend and enjoy the entertainment, drinks, and food.
Wednesday, Nov 16, 7:00 PM - 10:00 PM
- Farewell Happy Hour Time to say goodbye to our old and new AU friends.
Thursday, Nov 17, 4:00 PM - 6:00 P
- Make sure to attend the keynotes:
- Opening Keynote with Autodesk CEO Carl Bass and CTO Jeff Kowalski,
- Product Innovation Keynote with Autodesk’s Sr. Vice President Amar Hanspal.
- Closing Keynote with Autodesk Sr. Vice President Andrew Anagnost
- Blogger and Social Media Meetup: Sign up here if you have been active blogging or on Twitter about Autodesk products and meet fellow people involved in social media. This is the 13th year of this fun social event. Autodesk University 2016 Blogger Social Meetup Sign Up
- Get Answers: One of the biggest benefits of AU is finding an answer to that nagging question about an Autodesk product. This is the center of the universe of Autodesk products with Answer Bars open all 3 days.
- The famous Welcome to Las Vegas Sign is over 3 miles walking from the Venetian. Please watch for traffic as it is dangerous to cross to the median where the sign is located.
- Shutterbugs Share your photos online using the free Flickr website or the app. You can post your photos to the AU 2016 Photo Group https://www.flickr.com/groups/au2016/ for everyone to see. I will also be posting to my Instagram account https://www.instagram.com/shaanhurley/. Geotag your photos with the photo location (phones usually do that automatically as well as tags like #AU2016
- Hashtags: When posting blog posts, or updates on social media like Twitter, Facebook, or photo sites like Instagram or Flickr please use the hashtag #AU2016. This way people can follow the event around social media, the web and at places like on Twitter from the web at https://twitter.com/search?q=%23AU2016 or Instagram https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/au2016/.
- Feedback: Make sure to complete the surveys at the end of the event to provide feedback to the speakers. You usually get a goodie like a cool tee shirt in return for completing the quick and painless survey.
- Meetups: There are several great places for meeting after hours in the Venetian. Whether it is Fusion, Bellini, or Laguna on the casino floor or the V-Bar, there are many places to sit down and talk after hours. Typically large groups descend after hours at one place or another so look for the crowds and please try to remove your AU badge after hours.
- Get Certified: Each morning we are hosting free Autodesk product certification sessions.
Comfort & Health
- Eat: There are light snacks and coffee each morning and then lunch is provided in a huge hall each day where you may have 10,000 people eating with you. A Tip: walk to the further food lines to avoid the longer waits due to people just taking the first line.
- Hydrate: Drink lots of water. You will lose water faster than a fly in a microwave. Soda, coffee, and beer do not hydrate you. You can purchase water cheaper outside the hotel at the Walgreens as well as get other goodies or aspirin.
- Run Jog or Walk in the morning air: We have over 25 people each morning get together for fresh air, new friends, and some exercise at their level.
Fresh Air at Autodesk University 2016 Run Jog or Walk in the Morning
- Caffeinate: If you stay out late make sure to grab a coffee, tea, or Redbull to be alert for the days sessions. There are several coffee shops in the Venetian.
- Don’t get Lizard Lips: Your lips by the second day will look like something off of a lizard, so keep them lubed up to fend off the dry desert air.
- Dragon Breath? You do not want to walk around and talk to your peers with breath that smells like a mixture of coffee, garlic, and road kill. Take some mints or gum and drink lots of water.
- Shoes: Wear comfortable shoes as the walking distances between rooms and the event can add up and you will feel it at the end of the day. My step counts show that I walk about 4-10 miles a day at AU.
- NomNom: Have some spare snacks for when you get hungry, perhaps granola bar or something to tie you over as your brain is running full power during AU sessions.
- Bad Air: Due to the dry air and smoke in the casinos, make sure to bring some eye drops and perhaps a nasal spray.
- Humidifier Tip. Did you know you can escape the dry air problems by requesting a humidifier free in your room? Hurry before they are all spoken for. These are amazing and make the stay in Vegas all that much more enjoyable.
- Sleep: I am not sure if it is all the stimulation of the sights and sounds or if there is different oxygen levels, but it is pretty hard to get to sleep at night so bring some earplugs to quiet the ambient noises.
- Wireless Security: Make sure if using the public wireless connection to have a firewall enabled to prevent someone from messing with your machine or gathering data. It would be good to use a VPN connection to secure your data.
- Antivirus: Make sure if you use a public wireless connections to make sure you have updated antivirus enabled. Using any public Wi-Fi connection can be risky and can easily allow infection of your machine if not protected. You can even use a free antivirus program like Microsoft Security Essentials.
- Static Electricity! Be careful and touch a door nob before touching your laptop. A few people including me fried their laptops due to all the static electricity built up on the carpets and the dry air. There is nothing worse than your entire laptop frying the day before your class session you are teaching and having to stay up all night to re-write and redo some content that was edited during AU. I have heard having a dryer sheet or coins in your pocket will help minimize static electricity risks.
- Watch Your Valuables: Keep an eye on your laptop and valuables. Like any place with thousands of geeks and cool electronics in one location, the crooks will be around in sheep's clothing and every year I hear of someone getting something like a laptop swiped even from leaving it in a class room.
- Keep Notes: Use an app like Evernote on your mobile or tablet to jot down notes during a session or those follow up questions for the speaker.
- Get Handouts: Download the course handouts and materials before AU and keep them on a mobile or tablet device for easy reference.
- Where Should I Be? Keep your schedule on a Mobile or tablet device for easy reference. The AU app is great for managing your schedule and what's going on. .
- Can you hear me now? You may not always be able to get a cell phone signal or Internet. Be prepared and don't panic. Take a deep breath and enjoy the lack of it.
- Gadget cables, cords and power supplies. You may run out of juice while at AU so carry some of the most needed power cords, portable batteries, and chargers with you.
- Cold in Hot Vegas: Do not be fooled by the palm trees along the streets and casinos, this desert oasis is hot 75% of the year. In winter it can be downright cold, and has even snowed the day after one AU. Bring a jacket and do not expect to dress in beach clothes if walking outside.
- Lay of the Land:
Google Map of Las Vegas http://g.co/maps/bauc8
- After Hours Dress Code: Make sure that if you plan on attending some events or venturing out to the clubs that you do not wear tennis shoes or a tee-shirt. Most clubs and finer restaurants enforce a dress code and normally do not permit sneakers or tee-shirt wearing guests.
- Sin City: You DO NOT have to drink, gamble or smoke in Las Vegas to have a good time.
See you soon!
Shaan @ShaanHurley on Twitter and Instagram