Monday, 16 November 2015

Autodesk University 2015 Survival Tips

Autodesk University 2015 is fast approaching; in just a few weeks, thousands of Autodesk users and leaders will gather in Las Vegas to meet, mingle, share, network, and learn.  I have had the good fortune to attend several previous AU’s (This year marks my 10th AU), and have some suggestions to help improve your AU experience:

If this is your first AU, I strongly encourage you to attend the Freshman Orientation on Monday at 5:00- 6:30.  You’ll learn all about the conference and get great advice from the always amazing Lynn Allen.  You’ll also get your first opportunity to network with other attendees! 

Network! Probably the most valuable take-back from AU is the networking  (since many courses are online nowadays, anyways.)  Bring business cards, chat up people, sit at a table of strangers, introduce yourself! Find peers and connect with them, and share successes and challenges: it'll be far more valuable than the pure tech side of the conference!

Take a certification exam, they are usually free at AU. The best time to beat the crowds at certification is first thing, I mean FIRST THING in the morning, otherwise there will be a long queue.  

Go to the AUGI meeting on Wednesday at 5:30 and the AUGI reception after; there's free food and drink, and a beer mug for you at the AUGI booth!  When you get your mug, make sure to get it filled, and have a chat with fellow users. If you aren't an AUGI member, stop by and sign up: it's free!

The keynotes are awesome, make sure you check them out, and if crowds aren't your thing, remember, the keynotes are live-streamed, you can watch them from the comfort of your room if you like.  Either way, check them out!

The AU app is great for keeping track of your schedule, but I always print a hard copy at 25% scale and tuck it in the back side of my AU credentials.  It’s  instantly accessible, since you’re always wearing your name tag.

To preserve battery life of your mobile device, turn off all the extras in your phone, such as Bluetooth, NFC, and Location services.  

For international visitors, turn off data roaming too, unless you get yourself a travel package for your mobile. 

Make sure you have your battery charger with you, bring a spare battery or a portable charging stick along; you’ll probably notice your phone battery gets depleted faster away from home.

Las Vegas is the desert, and it’s really, really dry, so remember the following:

Wear comfortable shoes: there’s a LOT of walking, it might be close to a quarter mile from the elevators to the conference entrance. By week’s end, your feet will be sore and tired.  Help them out by making the walk as comfortable as possible.

There is a 'secret' shortcut to the expo: instead of taking the hotel elevator to the casino level, and walking the big loop through the casino,  get off the elevator at the Canal shoppes level.  A quick walk alongside the canal, and over a bridge or two, and you'll be at level 3 of the Expo!  This area is also reasonably quiet, with benches for relaxing, and uncrowded restrooms!

Typically, you get a conference bag.  Use it!  Take it with you, and every time you see tables with bottles of water, toss a couple in your bag. 

Take chap stick with you; the air is dry, and you’ll likely need it.

Rest up! AU days are long, they start early, and go late.  A few hours’ sleep goes a long way; get it while you can. 

Remember: Pace yourself! You need energy for the wrap up party on Thursday night!

For the most comfortable room, request a humidifier for your room when you check in; the extra moisture will help!

Leave space in your luggage for any shopping or freebies you may acquire while there for the trip back home.

International travelers, make sure your passport is valid and not expiring soon. Also for international folks, I try and use my credit card as much as I can, instead of cash, since buying $USD always comes with a exchange fee, but credit card companies typically only charge the current rate, without a fee.

A taxi from McCarran to the Venetian will cost between $20-$25 USD.  There are shuttles available, too, at $7- $10 per person.

Try and take a few hours and be a tourist! See a show, or just take a stroll and sight-see.  Make time and get outside for some fresh air every day.

I hope these few tips help make your AU2015 the best it can be! See you there!