Sunday, December 6, 2015

Finding Zen among the Hustle & Bustle at Autodesk University

Autodesk University

Autodesk University, or AU, is where Autodesk customers and users from all over get together to take classes, become certified, provide development input, see new features, network with others and also to have a great time. It is held in about a dozen locations world wide, and recently just finished in Las Vegas, Nevada, where there were over 10,000 users in attendance.

I had the privilege to attend for the first time, and I really enjoyed everything, from the setup, to key note sessions to the "Bash to the Future" closing ceremony. This event was so big, with so much jammed into it, I'll probably write about it more than once. 

Finding ZEN 

With so many meetings, classes, food and parties, it can be easy to get carried away. To think more selfishly about what one can glean for themselves, rather than what one can do for others. Which brings me to what I think was one of the coolest parts of AU 2015.

Autodesk University is literally a brain trust of 10,000 talented programmers, gifted designers, engineers of all sorts, and creative thinkers. The e-NABLE Hackathon allowed those that wanted to volunteer some of their time, to do so for a worthy cause. 

In this case, the Autodesk Foundation 3D Prints and assembles hands for children without hands to use. You can see all the components that go into a 3D printed hand below:

During the e-NABLE Hackathon, 3D digital design data of the hand was made available to volunteers. With that, certain problems and tasks were laid out and made available for the pool of experts to work through.

Now, this particular hand is mechanical only, not electro-mechanical. What that means is that the child opens and closes the fingers by flexing their wrist, and there are no electric motors that assist. Holding the fingers closed for a long time can be a physical strain. To work around that, so you can hold something for a while without straining, there is a mounting system, where a nut with an octagonal shape can be attached. While the mounting system is static, the rest of the mount can change for a variety of tasks. 

Thus one of the tasks was to come up with new designs that can be 3D printed with the attachment nut, and used in the hand. People came up with many great ideas, from attachments to hold brooms and shovels, to tooth brushes, to game controllers, etc. My design was to hold an iPad mini, without the child needing to flex their fingers continuously.

I know it doesn't look real sexy, I had to run to meetings and my time was short. Also, it may not be a perfect fit, as I had to google the dimensions of the iPad mini. However, it felt pretty good taking a few minutes to do something that may help others, while still being able to enjoy AU for myself. 

If you were at AU, what were your highlights? What did you like best? Post a comment.

If you weren't at AU, give it serious consideration for next year. 

Until next time, I decided I really liked the coloring of this one. It was too small for my hand though.

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