At Autodesk we’re focused on delivering the kinds of products that help people to design meaningful experiences. It’s about how an occupant feels in a building. How the lives of patients are improved by medical devices. The way the world is improved by a commuter train easing congestion and climate impact.
And as a member of the board of directors for the Autodesk Foundation, I’ve seen some incredible, inspiring work being done by designers and engineers around the world. They’re working on what we call impact design—projects that have meaningful, positive impact on the world around us.
That’s why I want to celebrate what the designers and engineers who use our software do: I want to bring to light the amazing achievements they create every day. Each innovation stands alone, but together comprises the vast network of human accomplishment.
For the three decades that I’ve been at Autodesk, I’ve seen designers and engineers use our tools to create extraordinary and essential things. People like Elizabeth Strand who created Build Change, which improves construction practices in developing countries; or the volunteers around the world spending their spare time making 3D printed prosthetics.
The impact Autodesk users have on the world goes beyond the reaches of traditional manufacturing and architecture into the world of education. Consider MASS Design, which uses strategic design thinking to impact the systems that support growth, dignity, and well-being around the world.
It’s these stories and so many more, some of which I talked about last week’s closing session at Autodesk University, which keep me energized about Autodesk. I know that in supporting them by providing the right tools and technology, we are working together to address the issues that matter to the entire world, and I’m personally proud of the work they do.
We at Autodesk pride ourselves on creating an open and collaborative environment, which makes this latest award even more special. Earlier this week, Autodesk received a score of 85 out of 100 on the 2016 Corporate Equality Index (CEI), a national benchmarking survey and report on corporate policies and practices relating to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) workplace equality.
"For our first year participating in this survey, this is a great beginning," said Danny Guillory, Autodesk's new Head of Global Diversity & Inclusion. "It also shows that we have areas where we can grow as an organization in creating an inclusive environment for LGBT employees within Autodesk, as well as serving LGBT allies in our surrounding communities."
Over the past year, Autodesk's demonstrated its support of its LGBT workforce by:
Establishing the Autodesk Pride Employee Resource Group
Support of the Autodesk Pride employee resource group, culminating in its participation in the San Francisco Pride Parade
Extending Health Benefits to be inclusive of the Transgender Community by adding gender reassignment benefits
Becoming members of Out and Equal
Driving a corporate LGBTQ networking group with other Bay Area technology companies
Over the next year, we are excited to explore areas of growth including competency training and resources on LGBT issues, as well as public engagement with the LGBT community via philanthropy and core business functions.
The survey is administered by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, America's largest civil rights organization working to end discrimination against LGBT citizens. Autodesk's score reflects a commitment to LGBT workplace equality, with respect to tangible policies, benefits, and practices. The 2016 CEI rated a total of 1,024 businesses. The report evaluates LGBT-related policies and practices including non-discrimination workplace protections, domestic partner benefits, transgender-inclusive health care benefits, competency programs, and public engagement with the LGBT community.
We hear it all the time. “Location, Location, Location.” Well, Autodesk Toronto has heeded that advice and is planning a move to MaRS starting in June 2016. The MaRS Discovery District (MaRSDD), that is. This is not a mere address change. The MaRSDD in Toronto is the one of the world’s largest urban innovation hubs.
Autodesk is seizing a strategic opportunity to relocate our office to the center of the largest urban innovation district in North America, which is presently home to more than $1.2 billion in research spending. MaRS is the base of Toronto’s medical research district where scientists translate discoveries into practical application, from the first use of insulin in the early 20th century to advances in stem cells and regenerative medicine today.
Toronto is the headquarters for Autodesk Research, and our new Toronto location will expose the surrounding community to the impact Autodesk research and technology has on the future of making things. By immersing Autodesk into the high tech, research and education hub of Toronto, Autodesk can also attract and retain the best talent and collaborate with new partners.
According to Gordon Kurtenbach, Autodesk senior director of Research, “Autodesk is thrilled to move to the technology, business, education and research center of Toronto. It’s the right place to foster the talent key to growing our future business.”
Autodesk will occupy the second and third floors of MaRS West Tower, a total of more than 60,000 square feet. The move will occur in phases, starting in June 2016. The new space will eventually accommodate more than 300 employees.
Autodesk is also taking over the street-level space at the northwest corner of the new building and will transform it into an innovation space and design sandbox that will enable creators, customers and the public to explore new fabrication techniques using 3D printers and robotics.
Toronto: City of Opportunity
Toronto is heralded as one of the most multicultural cities in the world, with more 140 languages and dialects. Ranked as the most livable city in 2015, and most youthful city of the year in 2014, Toronto is also the fourth largest North American City. MaRS is directly adjacent to the University of Toronto, the Ontario Provincial Legislative Buildings and world-renowned research centers in health and medical science. The University of Toronto launches the highest number of startups among all North American Universities.
“I am delighted to welcome Autodesk to their new home at MaRS,” said Ilse Treurnicht, chief executive officer, MaRS. “Autodesk has been an important member of the Toronto research community for many years, and this is an exciting expansion. Autodesk’s presence will offer our community of innovators greater access to the best researchers exploring 3D applications across all industry sectors from life sciences to clean technologies.”
Maria Giudice joins Autodesk today as the company’s first vice president of experience design. She will be focused on integrating the look and feel of all of our 100+ products, and ensuring that the customer remains at the center as we build products. Maria was founder and CEO of interactive design firm Hot Studio and joins the company from Facebook, where she led the platform design team as a product design director. Is she excited to join Autodesk? You bet.
Q: What drew you to Autodesk, Maria?
A: I’ve admired Autodesk for a long time and have always been impressed with Carl Bass as a leader, maker and teacher.
Rewind back to a few years ago when my son started using Autodesk software at his elementary school in Oakland. He was so proud to show me his latest creation designed in Maya; however, what struck me was the generosity displayed by the company and Carl in granting software to schools that expose kids to design early, ultimately paving a pathway to a creative career.
According to a 2010 survey of 1,500 CEOs, creativity was cited as the most important leadership trait for the future. But our education system is no longer wired to unlock this important skill in school. Whole generations of kids don’t realize that they can pursue a career based on their skills as creative thinkers and makers.
Carl’s commitment to inspiring the next generation of creative thinkers sold me on the company and brand. I’ve met other Autodeskers at industry conferences over the years, and they all shared a sense of warmth, enthusiasm for design, and most importantly, excitement about the company’s role in changing how the world is designed and made.
Q: What excites you most about your new job? A: I have spent the majority of my career working in the virtual, digital realm. I’ve been really lucky to grow as a designer by trying out new things throughout my professional career. I’m ready for my next adventure in helping Autodesk and its customers transform the physical world.
Creativity and making has increasingly become democratized with affordable technology, easy to use tools, and an appetite for DIY. As our world becomes increasingly more digital, the psychological need for craft and making will continue to increase.
While it is technically my first day, I couldn’t feel more at home at Autodesk, and I can’t wait to be around people who are making stuff again. I’m excited to be part of the future we are helping to imagine, design, and create together.
Q: Tell us about your design philosophy.
A: I’ve always focused on intelligent, elegant, people-centered design throughout my professional life. I feel like pragmatic, authentic approaches are really important, and that’s what helps design be critical to business. I founded Hot Studio with the goal to create breakthrough products and services that had global impact, and we felt like our Fortune 500 clients really benefitted from that. I can’t wait to get started working alongside the talented design team at Autodesk and to bring my experience with interactive design to this software leader.
Q: Who’s your favorite designer?
That is a difficult question to answer because I consider the definition of a designer as someone who takes risks, lives in a world between analytics and pure gut intuition, and creates meaning through the lens of change. I have many design heroes, so I’ll just name a few: Tibor Kalman, Dave Eggers, Emily Pilloton, Lynda Weinman, and John Maeda.
Maria Giudice is vice president of experience design for Autodesk. She joins the company from Facebook, where she led the platform design team as product design director. In 1997 she founded Hot Studio, an experience design firm which was acquired by Facebook in 2013. She has written many books on design, and her latest, coauthored with Christopher Ireland, is Rise of the DEO: Leadership by Design.
Maria holds a bachelor of fine arts from Cooper Union. She was recognized as Woman Entrepreneur of the Year by the Women’s Initiative, a Bay-Area non-profit that helps provide economic opportunity and education to low-income, high-promise women. In 2012, Maria was named an AIGA Fellow, in recognition of her impact in raising the standards of excellence and conduct within the design community.
Autodesk Panorama 2015 participants hailed from Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, and Ukraine
Up-and-coming architects, engineers, and industry designers from all over the world gathered at the prestigious Tongji University in Shanghai and put their skills to the test at the Autodesk Panorama Student Bootcamp in March.
The Bootcamp was the culmination of a year-long journey for the participants from 12 countries who beat hundreds of teams and thousands of submissions in their national design competitions for the chance to represent their city at the international event.
Their original concepts and designs for products and spaces that can positively impact our communities were what ultimately earned them a spot in Panorama, which has continued grown in size and scale over the last five years. Previous Autodesk student boot camps were held in Hong Kong, Las Vegas, Malaysia and Singapore.
“The way we design and make things is changing rapidly and we’re not only looking to the future with new technology, we’re looking to the future with the next generation because big problems need fresh ideas,” said Don Carlson, Autodesk Education.
Over an intensive three days, the passionate and talented students stepped outside of their classrooms and comfort zones and participated in hands-on training sessions to advance their design skills, and were coached and mentored by industry experts who gave them tough but constructive critique of their work.
“I was a mentor at the Panorama Boot Camp in Malaysia in 2010 and I continue to be inspired and impressed by these young designers. What they are able to accomplish using professional 3D design tools and industry workflows not only mirrors business realities; they're also learning about collaboration, problem-solving and time management, skills that are transferable to any career," said Lee Miller, Vice President and the Director of Design Technology Implementation for HOK.
The esteemed panel of Panorama mentors included Lee Miller from HOK in San Francisco, Jake Fowler from the Fusion 360 User Experience Team in Autodesk Shanghai, and Dr. Miao Lijie from Harbin Electric Corporation
For the first time in Panorama history, students got first-hand experience with Autodesk Fusion 360 and were challenged to conceptualize, design and model an innovative wearable technology device in just 10 hours. The Hackathon was a test not only of the students’ creativity and problem-solving abilities against a deadline, but also of their presentation skills as they “pitched” their ideas to the panel of mentors just as an entrepreneur would to potential investors.
Jake Fowler, Senior User Experience Designer for Autodesk Fusion 360, introduces the product and Hackathon challenge to the Panorama participants
Among the brilliant projects developed within the time limit, the combined team from Bryansk State Technical University in Russia and National Technical University in Ukraine emerged the winner of the Hackathon with their concept, “Modular Wearable Personal” or MWP.
Don Carlson presents the combined team from Russia and Ukraine with their prize for their winning Autodesk Fusion 360 Hackathon wearable tech concept, “MWP”
The lightweight MWP backpack that can charge multiple small-sized but long-life batteries simultaneously anytime, anywhere, was inspired by the desire for constant connectivity and the multiple mobile devices that people carry with them on the go.
Other unique wearable tech ideas that impressed the mentors included the WeJaw from Team India which enables users to brush their teeth hands-free and test their blood sugar levels; a motorcycle helmet that makes SOS calls automatically when you get into an accident by the all-girl team from Turkey; and Smart Gloves, a device for tourists that provides real-time information on landmarks and foreign language translation with a simple point of a finger.
“We want to help groom next generation talent so that they are in a position to succeed when they graduate and enter the working world. Autodesk Panorama embodies our commitment to design education. We don’t just provide the global education community with free* access to our 3D design tools and project-based learning resources. We help open doors for the future workforce by providing them with international platforms to showcase their talent and be connected with the industry,” said Carlson.
Free Autodesk software and/or cloud-based services may only be used for educational purposes and are subject to acceptance of and compliance with the terms and conditions of the software license agreement or terms of service. Details and restrictions available at http://usa.autodesk.com/legal-notices-trademarks.
In light of their upcoming launch, several people have asked me about Onshape. Given how hyperbolic and misleading their statements have been, it is time to set the record straight. After all, Onshape is entitled to their own opinions - but not their own facts.
The first claim they make is that Onshape is new and revolutionary – the first to the cloud. It’s as if to say nothing happened in CAD while they weren’t building CAD tools. Such hubris makes for interesting reading, but it’s just not true.
We launched AutoCAD 360 (formerly AutoCAD WS) in January 2010. AutoCAD 360 is a web and mobile CAD product that has 20,000,000 users who have created almost 100,000,000 models. TinkerCAD, a browser-based 3D modeling tool for kids launched in 2011. It has more than 500,000 users and more than 350,000 people use it every month. More than 4,000,000 models have been created and its usage usually peaks at about 20,000 concurrent sessions in a single day. And our broad-based collaboration platform A360 was released in December and already has over 100,000 users with more than 6,000,000 new files being uploaded every week. Onshape first? Hardly!
But Onshape is probably most similar to Fusion 360, our cloud-based CAD/CAM tool. Fusion 360 launched in June 2013 and has more than 50,000 users that have created almost 500,000 models. Let’s compare it to Solidworks just to give you a feel for the size of the market. In 2000, five years after Solidworks launched, it had 50,000 subscribers on maintenance. The numbers for Fusion are pretty impressive especially when you compare them with legacy desktop applications but the rate at which people are discovering and using Fusion is staggering. What’s even more pleasing to me is that more than 90% of these users are new Autodesk customers.
But instead of taking my word for it, let’s see what those who follow the industry have to say. Last week Cadalyst published:
“Of all the leading CAD developers, Autodesk has been the most aggressive and vocal about bringing cloud technology to design. It now has a range of cloud-based products available, all of which share ‘360’ in their name to signify the new all-access approach.”
Is this the land that time forgot or were they just not paying attention?
Their second argument confuses the web browser with the cloud.
Let’s back up to the basics and explore what the cloud is good for when it comes to design and engineering. First and foremost, the cloud provides access to nearly infinite and scalable computing power at reasonable costs. In the world of engineering, this is incredibly powerful. We have used the cloud for compute-intensive tasks like visualization, simulation and analysis. Our cloud-based rendering service has made more than 17,000,000 images. Here’s a model from Fusion 360 rendered completely in the cloud.
And our simulation and analysis engines run completely in the cloud. Some jobs require only minutes, others thousands of hours. Using the right technology for the right job is the key to making sense of this new computing infrastructure.
The second thing that the cloud is ideally suited to do is be the central coordination point for storage, data management and collaboration. Behind all of our cloud-based products are the tools that allow people to manage their data and their projects. For those apps that center on files, tools like A360 allow for sharing and viewing of files. For tools like Fusion 360 that have built-in collaboration and data management capabilities, A360 provides the underlying infrastructure to store, manage and version the data.
Now let me directly address the question of access to the cloud via browsers or apps. Look at your phone or tablet where both the browser and apps exist. Which one do you choose to use? It depends. If I’m accessing my email I tend to use the mail apps on my devices. If I’m using Evernote or Twitter or A360, I prefer the apps. But there are many times where the browser is more convenient and over time, the browser will definitely get better.
But for CAD applications today the browser means reduced functionality, less capacity for big models, slower performance (for anything that has to roundtrip to the servers) and most importantly, no offline access to your data. In fact, the CEO of Onshape has said that not having offline use is the bet they are making.
How do we know offline is important? Because when we first rolled out Fusion 360, the single biggest complaint we got is that people wanted access to their data and tools even when they had limited or no Internet connectivity.
And how do we know about the tradeoffs? Because we built the tools that more engineers use on web, mobile and desktops than anyone else in the world. Our goal is to make sure our customers have access to the tools and data they need on any device they want.
But again, rather than taking my word for it, here’s what engineering.comsaid last year:
“The gauntlet has been thrown. Can the entire product lifecycle live on the cloud? Several companies have ported their offerings to the cloud, but Autodesk is by far the clear winner in creating native cloud-based design applications.”
One thing on which we agree is that the way products are designed, engineered and manufactured has changed. The third leap of faith Onshape is asking users to take is to conclude that their tool solves these problems better than other tools in the market. It’s a big leap and nowhere are the differences in our approach more clear.
One window into how each company thinks about the problem is the names we’ve chosen. As Jon Hirschtick says, “when you’re Onshape, it means you got the form and geometry of your design just right.” That’s interesting, but we believe shape description is table stakes for today’s tools and isn’t central to solving the evolving needs of today’s designers and engineers. When you look more closely, tools like Onshape have very limited shape description capabilities when compared to almost all of the existing desktop tools. So how does having a less functional modeler running in the browser solve these problems? I’m not sure it does.
On the other hand, we chose Fusion as the name for our product to show how we were bringing together technologies that had previously been separate. We started by having mechanical design and industrial design tools together in one cloud-based application. We built data management into that environment. And we brought together design tools with visualization, simulation and fabrication (CAM and 3D printing) tools. We built an ecosystem so that people could share and collaborate on their work with increasingly distributed design teams and supply chains. We think that this is the right vision for solving the complexities of today’s design teams.
Making bold statements makes for good press but doesn’t solve customers’ problems. So while we're flattered (and have a few other emotions) that Onshape is copying many things we pioneered, what’s most important to us is solving real customer problems.
One of our newest customers summed it up nicely by saying:
"The easy learning curve and collaborative nature [of Fusion 360] allowed our industrial designer to work seamlessly with our hardware lead, which is something we hadn't been able to manage on any other platform. This ultimately led us from a proof of concept to functional prototype in a matter of weeks instead of months.”
By Jan Becker, Autodesk senior vice president of Human Resources
Autodesk is honored to once again earn a position on the FORTUNE Best Companies to Work For list. This year we rose 18 places to number 52 on the list and Autodesk has been named one of the best places to work for seven years now.
We’re usually praised for the strength of our benefits like six-week paid sabbaticals, our people-friendly culture and the focus we put on creating amazing spaces where our employees work. To me, this is not everything that makes Autodesk a great place to work. I meet regularly with our over 7000 employees, and I commonly hear that they’re most excited about having meaningful impact on the world around us, the innovation occurring every day in our offices around the world, and how they are developing technology that is helping everybody imagine, design and create a better world. Whether they’re solving complex engineering problems or inventing new ways for architects, digital artists, industrial designers and makers to create, our employees are helping realize a new future of making things.
It’s an exciting time to be at Autodesk. We’re focused on creating a new future of how things are made and our teams are working hard to approach this challenge. Some firsts from the past year include:
Continued success with Fusion 360, the first cloud-based computer aided design (CAD) software; the development of Spark, the first open 3D printing software platform and as a reference implementation of this, the creation of Ember, Autodesk’s first 3D printer; the establishment of the Autodesk Foundation, the first foundation to focus investment exclusively on the people and organizations using design for impact and, our software is now free for all students, faculty and educational institutions worldwide.
My thanks to each and every employee who helps make this company such a great place to work, and to FORTUNE and the Great Places to Work Institute for recognizing Autodesk on this list. If you’re interested in joining the team, I encourage you to learn more about our current openings.
The CDP launched a report on their annual climate change survey to the world’s largest companies, on behalf of investors representing USD 92 trillion in assets. The report demonstrated that leadership in climate disclosure and performance is linked to financial performance. According to the CDP, leaders, “Autodesk received the highest scores possible on this assessment, a 100 for disclosure and an “A” for performance.” These scores place us on both the Climate Disclosure Leadership Index and Climate Performance Leadership Index for the third consecutive year. Even more thrilling is this information is shared with investors through tools like Bloomberg Terminals and Google Finance, so they can more accurately understand the performance of their investments. Our performance on these rankings, along with Autodesk’s inclusion on Dow Jones Sustainability Indices for the fifth year in a row, can be attributed to two things: our deep efforts to make sustainable design easy, insightful and cost-effective for our customers, and our programmatic efforts to embed sustainability into how we run our business. The case for leadership on climate is clear, whether you are designing a building, product or a business.
Another insight is that climate week inspired a new-found hope in solving the climate crisis. From the record-breaking march; to United Nations Secretary General Ban-ki Moon’s comment that he has never before seen so many disparate representatives at the same table, itfeels like we can fix this. Autodesk knows, and sees through our customers, that climate change can be addressed with good design.
Designers, this is our wheelhouse. We can all do this. Especially given the abilities that designers have now, thanks to new technology, there is no reason not to have hope and be inspired by the opportunity for change. We can “Design for Zero” and design carbon emissions out of the things we build and make. We applaud the Pusat Tenaga Malaysia Zero Energy Office Building and FortZED, an entire zero energy district in Colorado, examples that demonstrate that Design for Zero is already happening. So what are we waiting for?
Climate Week NYC ended, but this year it reminds us that we need to design like it’s Climate Week all year long. Designers, business and government now have the ability to design carbon out of our global systems and transform humanity’s greatest challenge into our greatest triumph.
Last September, we expanded our San Francisco presence with the opening of the Autodesk Workshop at Pier 9. The 27,000 square foot world-class facility brought the company's vision to life: helping people imagine, design and create a better world. Pier 9 houses people and machines that research and develop software, tools, apps, communities and advanced workflows for manufacturing, life sciences, digital art and the maker community.
In just one year, Pier 9 has seen its fair share of creative projects, welcomed more artists in residence into the program, earned LEED platinum certification for commercial interiors, and even started an Autodesk global phenomenon known as Tremendress Tuesday, where employees have the opportunity to celebrate their creativity every second Tuesday of each month. It was started by Eric Wilhelm and the Instructables Team. Employees wear special outfits with extreme pride – it could be formal attire, Halloween costumes, prom/wedding dresses, bear suits, or anything else they love to wear.
Employees around the world celebrated Tremendress Tuesday
Some other Pier 9 highlights from Year 1 include:
LEED platinum certification for commercial interiors (check out the infographic below)
Autodesk’s first batch of Spark 3D printers were made at Pier 9
102 Artists in Residence
319 Instructables posted by Artists in Residence
503 employees with workshop access
1 go cart made by CEO Carl Bass and his son
Carl Bass' Go-cart
If we’ve unleashed that much creativity in a year, we can’t wait to share what happens in the next, five, ten, or even fifteen years.
Courtesy of Lundberg Design
Help us celebrate the first year of unlimited creativity and usher in many more by sharing your creativity on Instructables, creating a masterpiece on SketchBook Mobile or even hosting your own Tremendress Tuesday!