Editor's Corner: You Make the World

A 163Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine—complete with images—is available by clicking HERE

Just five years into the new millennium it seems we have experienced the best and the worst of what humans and nature can do. Resolve may be strengthened, but hearts are closer to the surface as we grapple with our vulnerability to nature and forces beyond our control. Satellite images from around globe and across this great country make us simultaneously aware of our frailties and our blessings.

While some businesses struggle, others continue to push forward. Autodesk CEO Carol Bartz kicked off her speech at the 12th Annual Autodesk University in Las Vegas with the words, "You Make the World." Indeed–from surveying, to designing, to operating and maintaining–the construction industry touches human lives around the world. More than 4000 people attended the meeting. Many of the "old-timers"–those who have been using AutoCAD since the 80s–attest to the benefit of investing money in development in order to create a better and better product. Not only did the manipulation of drawings take forever "back in the day," but the software was just plain hard to use. That’s all changed.

Bartz commented on how networks are replacing the need to send a roll of drawings. She also discussed transition strategies. As users upgrade, being able to bring legacy information and custom commands along is critical. Much emphasis is being placed on allowing the users to do this themselves, without having to hire a consultant. In her words, "Change is hard enough as it is. Why make it more tortuous?" Joe Bell’s hands-on review of Autodesk’s Civil 3D 2005–a replacement for Autodesk Land Development Desktop and Civil Design–demonstrates just how far Autodesk has come. Civil 3D runs on top of Map 3D.

Amar Hanspal, Vice President of Autodesk Collaboration Services, spoke about industry trends: increases in project volume, complexity, and international scope, countered by reductions in schedule length, fees and staff (translated: more work for the same amount of staff ). He also laid a few factoids on the audience:
• It is estimated that a 30-40 percent inefficiency factor exists within the $3.7 trillion global construction industry;
• The documents for a Boeing 747, if printed, would fill four 747s;
• Buzzsaw, Autodesk’s document repository, has 100,000 users;
• There have been five million downloads of the free DWF viewer.

The biggest news of the event was the announcement that Autodesk will go to an annual release. I spoke with Terry Bennett, senior manager of Engineering and Construction Solutions, and asked if this would make customers angry. He replied that most customers are on the subscription plan, and that the annual cost of a subscription is considerably less than 15 percent of the cost of one seat of software. Subscription customers will receive the new release each year, as well as all the incremental fixes and enhancements throughout the year.

From my observations, many of the new features related to the elimination of repetitive symbol placing. For example, instead of having to specify a table with four chairs or six chairs, etc., you can just drag the table and the lengthened table and extra chairs automatically appear. In addition, much attention has been paid to automating commands, eliminating the need to always use the command line.

Making a grand entrance from the rear of the auditorium was keynote speaker Dean Kamen, who rode up a ramp to the stage on a Segway Personal Transport, the vehicle he invented. I must admit that in the ten or so years I have been attending user conferences, I’ve never been more inspired by a keynote presentation. Inventor, entrepreneur and tireless advocate for science and technology, Kamen spent the next two hours on his Segway "podium," regaling, inspiring, challenging and intriguing the audience.

Kamen’s company, DEKA, is credited with more than 150 U.S. and foreign patents, many of them for innovative medical devices. The Segway was actually an outgrowth of the attempt to make a wheelchair that would climb stairs. Kamen’s main point, however, was driven home by this fact: last year, less than 65,000 engineers graduated in the United States. In contrast, 1.4 million engineers graduated in India; he is concerned that we will reach a point where we are dependent on other countries for technology. Kamen commented that we "do things backward" in this country. Simply stated on the home page of his website, "You have teenagers thinking they’re going to make millions as NBA stars or entertainers when that’s not realistic for even 1 percent of them. Becoming a scientist or engineer is." Visit www.dekaresearch.com for more information about the company.

We Won an Ozzie!
With this first anniversary issue of The American Surveyor, we’d like to take the opportunity to toot our own horn a bit about the Ozzie award we received! Ozzies are given out by Folio Magazine, what you might call "the magazine for magazine publishers" that serves an industry made up of thousands of print and online publications. Each year, Folio grants its special Ozzie awards for excellence in magazine design. It is with great pride that we announce that The American Surveyor won an Ozzie for second place in the category Best Design, New Magazine (Hallmark Magazine won first place). Criteria for judging include "first impressions, personality, uniqueness and design structure." The list of judges reads like a "Who’s Who" of industry leaders from small Business to Business (B2B) trade publications to the large consumer magazines. Judges select the winners based on design and entry statements. To make our victory even sweeter, the award was based solely on our first two issues! More information is available at www.folioshow.com/ 2 00 4_Ozzie_Award_Winners.6 05.0.html

We must, of course, give credit where credit is due. The attractive "look and feel" of TAS is thanks to our designers, LTD Creative here in Frederick, Maryland. In addition to the kind of content that can only come from real surveyors, we have aimed for a design that will appeal to surveyors and non-surveyors alike. The Ozzie award is confirmation that we’re upholding our mission statement: As a magazine created by surveyors for surveyors, our aim is to deliver to your doorstep a one-of-a-kind publication that will inform, educate, entertain, and inspire you.

Like many of our readers, I am excited about technology. Survey technology will continue to evolve, of that we can be certain. And it will continue to attract a new breed of surveyors to the community. Of course, all this comes with a price. The amount of money spent developing all the field and office tools surveyors use is staggering. The manufacturers who build these marvelous time-saving, accuracy-increasing, efficiency-increasing, more-money-making tools depend on you to buy their products.

When someone says to the members of our industry, "You Make the World," I’m proud to be part of that group. I’m also proud to be part of a community which, with the help of the marvelous GPS Monuments in the Sky, was able to detect minute changes in the position and shape of the earth immediately following the earthquake in the Indian Ocean. As surveyors, we are all part of the most unique business on the planet.

Marc Cheves is editor of the magazine.

A 163Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine—complete with images—is available by clicking HERE

About the Author

Marc Cheves, PS

Marc Cheves is editor emeritus of the magazine. He has been a surveyor since 1963 and is licensed in five states. Since 1995 he has been a surveying magazine editor.
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