Monday, November 30, 2015

AU2015, the day before: Freshman Orientation

I arrived today, the afternoon before AU2015, to complete my Registration, get my access badges, get into my hotel room, and as all new "university" attendees, show up for the Freshman Orientation class held this afternoon.

Las Vegas Airport is a little confusing, looks more like a casino than airport, and depending on where you land you may need to take a train to the main terminal. I just followed everyone off of my plane and was led to where I needed to be to leave the airport.

Ride to Hotel
Getting here you have to decide if you want convenience (Uber or Lyft cars are my first choice), or if like me you want to see a little bit of "the Strip" by taking an airport shuttle ($9 one way), or you want to take an old school taxi cab and pay way much more, or splurge and get a Limo to your hotel (starts at $45/person). I enjoyed the Shuttle ride.

I opted to stay at one of the two recommended hotels, The Venetian (The Palazzo is next door and equally close to the action). You can stay anywhere you want, but you'll have to figure out transportation if you're not into walking over. The place was packed with many AU attendees checking in but this hotel had a great system that moved the process quickly. I got a nice non-smoking room on floor 14 overlooking the pool area.

AU Registration
First thing to do after you drop your baggage in the room is to hop down to AU Registration to get your access badge. Autodesk emailed me a QR Code a couple of days ago and this automated the process: I don't think it took more than 5-minutes to scan my code walk over to get the print-out and lanyard (they required a photo ID to prove I was me first), then walk over to the 'merch" desk and pick up the complimentary AU2015 backpack.

11904 - AU Freshman Orientation 2015
Lynn Allen and others point out events and gatherings that should not be missed, plus get a preview of what’s in store for AU 2015. Well, that's what the intro to the class noted. This is slated to be 90-minutes long with a social/networking gathering afterwards. Lynn Allen was amazing, explained how this huge place works, how to use the AU2015 app, how  to find every event and function scheduled, and generally made us Freshman most welcome. Best 25-minutes of my time here so far.

A guest speaker got up and started talking about VUCA and managed to take a hall full of 500+ attendees to play the Marshmallow Challenge for 20-minutes, their enthusiasm fanned by the allure of $100 gift card for use at the at the Autodesk store. What is VUCA? What is the Marshmallow Challenge? Sadly I tuned out and felt this was a total waste of my time, but the winning team of the Marshmallow Challenge did construct the most amazing 39" tall structure that remained upright for the 15-minutes that I observed it: 3-engineers and 1-construction specialist were part of the team. Bravo!

A heart-warming videotaped story about training prison inmates with Autodesk software for careers when they get out was a nice touching story that closed out the event.

Expert Elite (EE) Welcome Reception
I ducked out 10-minutes before the Freshman Orientation class ended to visit with and attend a gathering of my fellow EE contributors (many are teaching or are participating in events at AU2015) at the Autodesk Forums and our Autodesk Liaison staff. It was good to see some familiar faces and meet new ones. If you are here at AU2015, look for us EEs wherever you are, we all have Expert Elite tags attached to the bottom of our ID cards.
Thanks to the Autodesk team for arranging it all.

It's time to get ready for a long day tomorrow. If you are interested, my FitBit logged 8703 steps today from the moment I stepped off the plane here in Las Vegas.