AU 2010 General Session Keynote:
Changing the World Through Inspired Design
This year's General Session keynote featured companies and organizations that are not just doing good design but are having a significant impact on the world. Autodesk technical evangelist Lynn Allen, welcomed the audience, then Carl Bass, Autodesk CEO asked, "Why do we do what we do?", stating that we want our work to have a positive impact on our company, our community, and even the world. With that he introduced Emily Pilloton of Project H Design.
Does "H" Stand for Hope?
Emily explained how she decided early on that she wanted to use design to solve problems, focusing on projects that have social value. Working with the Bertie County, N.C., schools, Project H developed a one-year program that used design to help transform this failing school district. Project H actively engaged the kids in design and construction, first by building "cornhole boards" which they sold to the community to raise money for community chicken coops, then by designing and building the coops. Students finished the program with 17 college credits.
Staying Grounded While Reaching for the Stars
Escape Dynamics co-founder and Singularity University graduate student Dmitriy Tseliakhovich took the stage next to describe how he searched for a way to open space for large-scale commercial, social, and scientific exploration. The result—a plane design that is simple and small, yet powerful enough to fly into orbit. The design uses a microwave beam from a ground base to power the space launch vehicle into orbit. Dmitriy pointed out that digital prototyping enables small teams of dedicated people to accomplish the type of development formerly limited to governments and other large organizations.
Seeing is Believing…and Understanding
Ron Paananen, project administrator, Washington State Department of Transportation described the advantages of using a model-based process to help interested parties, including the public, understand the process of designing and building new infrastructure and thus gain support for these projects. Using Seattle's Alaskan Way Viaduct and Seawall Replacement Project as an example, Ron described how interested parties looked at more than 90 replacement options during the process. “This helped everyone see what is possible and clarified the complex role of transportation in our communities,” he said.
Heading Out for a Prototypical Test Drive
Next, Bart Ney, public information officer for CALTRAN, showed how his agency uses model-based design technology to inform stakeholders about complex transportation projects. He demonstrated an affordable transportation simulator that presents an accurate 180 degree view to the driver. You can see the simulator at the Design Matters: Customer Showcase + Autodesk Labs.
I Want One!
Others walked, but Senior Design Executive Franz von Holzhausen from Tesla Motors drove onstage in the world's first all-electric sedan, the Tesla Model S. Using numbers to make his point, Franz spent the first part of his presentation talking about how our gasoline-powered automobile culture is impacting the supply of oil and the planet, then he talked about the technology and performance of the Model S. The resulting “I want one!” tweets were too numerous to count.
Using the Old to Create the New
Comparing the old (a trailer from the original TRON movie) and the new (a 3-minute prototype of the world of Walt Disney Pictures' highly anticipated film TRON: Legacy), Digital Domain CEO Cliff Plummer spoke briefly about the process of bringing this new film into production.
Even Cyborgs Can Be Sexy
Rounding out the spectrum of "why do we do what we do?" Scott Summit, CTO of Bespoke Innovations, illustrated how they use digital prototyping to "break out of the world of mass production". His company uses rapid prototyping to create personalized prosthetics that are both very cool looking and highly functional.
Conclusion: Paying Attention to the Power of the Possible
Chief technology officer Jeff Kowalski concluded the keynote by talking about how infinite computing is not only about a tool set change, but also a mindset change—from one of computing power scarcity and conservation to ubiquity and abundance, freeing designers to innovate in new ways. He urged Autodesk University attendees to use this new technology and others to pay attention to the Power of the Possible.