Secretary of Defense Fellow, Zach Miller, is with us in the Autodesk Office of the CTO for a full year learning about how we explore, invent, and innovate and will be sharing some of his impressive experience in leadership and building infrastructure in demanding environments. Over the last 19 years, Zach has served in a number of command and staff assignments, including four tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Most recently, he was a battalion commander in the 101st Airborne Division where he led a 1,700 person task force in eastern Afghanistan. His command was responsible for the security of Parwan Province and Bagram Airfield, the largest base in the country and home to over 18,000 people. Zach is exploring possible projects as he gets up to speed on Autodesk and meets as many folks as possible. We are thrilled to have Zach join us.
To get to know more about us, Zach visited our BUILD Space in Boston. We have Pier 9 in San Francisco that provides employees with the opportunity to imagine, design, and create things using Autodesk software. What employees learn from that experience helps them improve Autodesk software. In a similar vein, we have a BUILD Space in Boston. Whereas Pier 9 is a maker space for employees to engage in individual projects, the BUILD Space in Boston is where groups of Autodesk employees engage with other groups like schools and companies. Zach filed this report.
I got a great tour of the Boston BUILD Space from Technology and Innovation Strategist, Startup Mentor, and Senior Director for Building Information Modeling (BIM), Rick Rundell, and his team. BUILD is an acronym for BUilding, Innovation, Learning, and Design. Much of the space is focused on industrializing construction.
Here's a run-down of what they have going on:
Working with robots is part of the present as well as the future.
- I saw 6 ABBs.
- ABB is a leading supplier of industrial robots, modular manufacturing systems, and service. Their efforts help manufacturers improve productivity, product quality, and worker safety. ABB has installed more than 250,000 robots worldwide.
- As a company focused on making, Autodesk need places to do that.
- The Autodesk BUILD Space is a place to do that in Boston for the building and infrastructure sectors, together with partners in academia, industry and practice.
- It is a research and development workshop and innovation studio for digital fabrication, design robotics, and industrialization in the construction industry.
- Autodesk is working with universities, design studios, and start-ups who are exploring a wide variety of experimentation in the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC).
Projects of Interest
Autodesk has been at the forefront of the design world for more than 30 years. Now the company is evolving to become a leader in design and making. Autodesk makes software for people who make things. As such:
- If you want to find something, you go to Google.
- If you want to buy something, you go to Amazon.
- If you want to make something, you go to Autodesk.
So it's no surprise that I saw:
- Altec hydraulic boom for the "Mobile Digital Construction Platform" that attaches a robotic arm to the end (macro and micro movements).
- Ocean Pavilion / Biomaterials project to use the two ABB IRB 4600 robots to 3D print structures from chitosan, a bio-degradable polymer derived from crustaceans
- Aim to develop a malleable, reusable, bioplastic that is 3D printed, pulled, and cooled down, using a customized extruder machine, pulling end-effectors and two industrial robotic arms.
- Lots of Internet of Things applications for the AEC space, focused on efficiency and safety.
What a space!
The Autodesk BUILD Space supports teams where people can succeed or fail and try again in an environment free of commercial pressure. The facility supports nearly any material used in the construction process: steel, wood, stone, concrete, ceramics, glass and also composites like carbon fiber which are becoming increasingly important.
As Autodesk gains a better understanding of how its construction customers and the broader business, an ecosystem will evolve. Autodesk’s software teams upstairs will develop the next generation tools influenced by the forward-looking teams downstairs, and we believe the cutting edge work downstairs will be enabled by our developers upstairs. The feedback loop will be extraordinary.
The official ribbon cutting was held on October 5th (done by robots!). It was attended by the Boston Mayor, Martin Walsh who has been very supportive of advances in technology.
One of the interesting things about Autodesk is that our customers make places, things, and media. In other words, we serve the AEC, product design/manufacturing, and media/entertainment industries. As our customers who make places start to act more like our customers who make things (by prefabricating parts of buildings off site), we can bring what we have learned from the product design/manufacturing space to the AEC space. And if either of those groups wants to make a video sharing what they're doing, we've got that covered too.
Space is alive in the lab.