BREAKING NEWS: Coronavirus Forces Autodesk University Online
Roopinder Tara posted on May 12, 2020 |
All AU events, including the main one, to go fully virtual.
The music dies. Scene from the Venetian, site of AU2018
The music dies. Autodesk University 2020 moves from Las Vegas  to the cloud, thanks to COVID-19. Scene from the Venetian, site of AU2018
The grand dame of CAD events, Autodesk University, which can pack ten thousand people in Las Vegas casinos, has succumbed to COVID-19. AU, as it is known by its regulars, is normally held around Thanksgiving in Las Vegas and is, by far, the biggest event in the design software industry. It has for years offered a virtual event for users who can’t—or won’t—go to Las Vegas, but 2020 marks the first time the virtual event will be the only event.

But unlike most conferences that have pivoted to virtual events and offered them for free, Autodesk may be charging users to “attend,” though we don’t know how much. No dates have been determined for the virtual event. It’s too early to tell in what time zone “attendees” will be able to watch the event in their waking hours.

An Abundance of Caution

While our more optimistic government and business leaders have been hopeful about opening up businesses, schools and restaurants, Autodesk is taking a more cautious approach for its big event, still 6 months away.


Lisa Campbell, Chief Marketing Officer at Autodesk, announced that the company’s flagship event Autodesk University will be going digital this year.

Lisa Campbell, Chief Marketing Officer at Autodesk, announced that the company’s flagship event Autodesk University will be going digital this year.

In addition to its main event held in Las Vegas, Autodesk will be hosting all other AUs as digital experiences, says Autodesk CMO Lisa Campbell. She announced the cancellation of live events in the UK, India, Japan, China and Germany.

Autodesk University joins a long list of casualties of COVID-19. Events big and small have been cancelled since mid-March, including South by Southwest, MWC, Rapid, GTC, and LiveWorx, to name just a few of the 20+ events attended by engineering.com. But many attendees may have been hoping it would all be over by November.

Those who have registered for AU and paid will be automatically refunded, according to FAQs on the Autodesk site. Those who had booked flights and hotels for AUs will have to contact their airlines, travel agents or hotels directly for refunds.

Unlike other events, cancelled in March when COVID-19 was spreading rapidly and events were just a few months away, Autodesk is cancelling AU more than 6 months out—when many are expecting COVID-19 to have faded. This should see many would-be attendees less anxious about whether it is safe to go and less worried about cancelling travel if not. In addition, there will now be plenty of time for speakers to tailor their presentations to a live but remote audience.

However, speakers are cautioned that their presentations are not being automatically approved for the online event. At this point, the format of the online event and the number and choice of presentations is still unclear. Presenters are encouraged to go the AU site for updates.

Sad to not meet friends, says Alberto Tono (albertotono3 on Twitter) with this video. << Link to the video uploaded file>>

Sad to not to be meeting friends at AU is Alberto Tono (albertotono3 on Twitter).

Suffering even more than the attendees robbed of their annual romp in Vegas is the city of Las Vegas. COVID-19 has left Las Vegas reeling and its economy in shambles. We haven’t had it this bad since 9/11, says JetBlue’s CEO, interviewed on Nevada Public Radio. As the 7th most visited city in the US, Las Vegas depends not only on the gambling industry but on countless conventions and conferences. The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is one of the biggest, and luckily for Las Vegas, it occurred before COVID-19. As did the SOLIDWORKS user conference, now known as 3DEXPERIENCE World.

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