Designing Today for a Better Tomorrow

by Lynelle Cameron, Senior Director of Sustainability and Philanthropy, Autodesk

Lynelle_cameron_thumb_132x150This week, our partners, customers and followers in the press have gathered in Las Vegas for Autodesk University. Autodesk is first and foremost a technology company, and attendees will spend their time at AU learning about the technology that is available today.

However, throughout this week, I invite everyone, whether attending in person or online, to stretch your brain; to think about what the technology is enabling real people to do that’s outside of the usual. This week is not just about just technology, or about a single company. It’s about how designers, engineers and creative people everywhere are markedly changing the future of how everything on this planet is made.

Today Autodesk helps more than 10 million professional customers; nearly 100 million users of our personal and consumer tools; and millions of students to create literally anything their imaginations can conjure up. But, beyond this, our business is founded on helping people imagine, design and create a better world. We take these last two words – better world – very seriously.

At Autodesk, our vision of a better world is one in which “9 billion people live well and live within the limits of the planet.” It is the ultimate design challenge of our time. Nine billion is a conservative estimate of what the earth’s population will reach by 2050.  All 9 billion will want to enjoy a certain quality of
life, yet must do so within the design constraints of a finite planet. 

It is a big bold vision for what a better world could look like. In fact, it is the ultimate design challenge of our time. Is it a wildly crazy idea? Maybe. But wild and crazy is where today’s most innovative designs started. And actually, not doing this could in fact be a far crazier idea. So that’s where we’ll start too.

This week, we’ll take you on a journey where you’ll see some fascinating examples of what people can do with Autodesk technologies – everything from a small architecture firm in Sao Paulo designing Brasilia National Stadium, the world’s first “net zero energy” major sports stadium; to our nonprofit partner Architecture for Humanity using our software to help communities and businesses recover from natural disasters, as with the most recent Superstorm Sandy.

With modeling technology today, we can begin to model what would happen in different scenarios before a storm hits. For events like Sandy, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration can predict the geography and size of the tidal surge based on weather modeling. With our infrastructure modeling tools, we can then estimate which pieces of infrastructure and buildings will be hit, and by how much water. We can then test the affected storm runoff infrastructure to see if it can handle that volume of water over that much time. And of course after disaster strikes, we can also rely on technology to help reconstruct and redesign differently

Autodesk is also talking a lot this week about the new technologies that we’re unveiling to enable people to create a better tomorrow – exploring the boundless things that can be done with cloud-based tools and collaboration capabilities, 3D modeling and simulation, just to name a few.

We now have ridiculously powerful technology at our fingertips – and I don’t mean in the hands of just professional designers sitting in offices. These technologies are accessible on handheld devices, in remote mountain villages, deep underwater or far in space. And all these people, regardless of their location, can connect to each other and share their bold ideas and real world designs.

My ultimate hope is that the customers with us this week, or participating virtually, will be inspired by eachother’s stories – and will start to collaborate, brainstorm and solve problems in entirely new ways.  A better world needs more creative people – exactly the kind of people wandering the halls at AU this week.