As I mentioned in an earlier post, Autodesk University is aptly named because it consists of "classes" that our customers can take to learn how to use our products. In addition to teaching users how to drive AutoCAD, Inventor, Revit, 3ds Max, etc., last year we also added Innovation Forums. Instead of focusing on how to use our applications, these sessions cover the big ideas that are important to Autodesk and our customers.
Last Wednesday morning I attended a forum called The Collective Wisdom of Design Across Boundaries. After lunch I attended another: A Better World: How Smart Design Is Improving Our Planet and Our Understanding of It. This forum centered on the notion that today's technology is fueling new approaches to helping to imagine, design, and create a better world.
The forum was hosted by Autodesk's Jonathan Knowles, Senior Advisor to the CEO and CTO. The panel consisted of experts and individuals who are addressing our most pressing challenges and answering our deepest questions about the universe and our place in it.
- Cameron Sinclair, co-founder and “chief eternal optimist” (CEO), Architecture for Humanity
- Eve Blossom, founder, Lulan Artisans
- Ethan Kay, managing director of emerging markets, BioLite
- Gia Schneider, chairman and chief executive officer, Natel Energy
- Günter Waibel, director of the digitization program office, Smithsonian Institution
All of the speakers were inspiring and entertaining.
Cameron Sinclair demonstrated that resiliency is by design instead of chance via the hundreds of projects Architecture for Humanity undertakes across the globe. It is important for architects to understand the unintended consequence of their work. For example, earthquakes don't kill people, buildings kill people.
Eve Blossom, a trained designer, decided on a trip to southeast Asia to help build an economy so that families wouldn't have to sell their daughters into human trafficking. She built a market for traditional fabrics in the interior design industry in the west. She focused on artisans who typically have incomes below the poverty level and can fall prey to the human trafficking industry.
Ethan Kay, a trained anthropologist, works on ways to solve the problem of “dirty” cook stoves in the developing world. His pioneering work includes a unique business model whereby a camping stove helps to fund the company’s expansion into the home stove market.
Gia Schneider, one of MIT’s leaders under 40, is working to find “lost” energy in waterways to help green the energy mix. She proposes a system of distributed low-water dams instead of one large dam to support ecosystems, produce low-cost power, and provide other benefits such as the creation of wetlands, rice cultivation, fisheries, and aquaculture.
Günter Waibel is using reality capture to document the Smithsonian's collections. Teams are using design and technology to modernize an established and staid institution. Scientists used to go into the field and come back with artifacts. Now they come back with data.
The camera on the latest iPhone 4GS is supposed to be the best, but if the lighting is not right, it's just not great -- sorry about that.
Fighting for a better world is alive in the lab.