This is the last bit! Have a look at my Impressions of the conference here and at my class recommendations here.
By now you should all be very excited about AU and planning your own 2019 adventure, so here are some tips from me!
- DO your homework!
As soon as the list of classes is out, research them. Figure out what is important to you and strategize about your research. I personally do not think there is any point in reading the synopsis of each class – you are a busy person, you can’t dedicate that much of your time to this! Another thing you can’t afford to spend your time on is the wrong class while you are at the conference, so come up with a balanced plan.
There are two main things you want to look at – the what and the who. The “what” is a given – you want to go learn about things you care about – things that are relevant to you. Pick two topics to focus on – say Standards and Dynamo and try to stick to them – be realistic – if you go to see 16 classes that cover 16 different intense highly specialised topics, chances are by the end of the week your brain won’t have been able to absorb anything and you will be exhausted. Try to focus your studies, and maybe if you have a free slot, allow yourself a cheeky class on Healthcare design. Once you have picked your areas of interest, see how many classes there are that cover them, and read those blurbs.
The second thing – the “who”, I think is very important, not because they are a ground-breaking rock band from the 60s, what I mean is who is the BIM rock star that you are going to give your precious time to. Everyone learns differently and everyone teaches differently. Some of the presenters you may know, you may have listened to and you may know that their style of teaching perfectly suits you – prioritise this. A lot of the speakers would have given classes at previous AUs, you can look them up and watch a recording of their classes – maybe this can help you make up your mind. But also think about what their background is and what filter it will apply to the information they are giving to you. To me, who I am listening to is vital – the source of the knowledge is sometimes just as important as the facts. I have always found it extremely important to build a diverse range of opinions and experiences – If I have heard several talks on standards by white male BIM managers of large companies, I want to hear my next one from a woman of colour working in a midsized business.
After all the work you have done to pick your classes, it is almost inevitable that some of them will be fully booked. Here is a secret – you may still be able to get in! Make a note of your desired classes you couldn’t get into and just go hang around the door before them and it is very likely that people would have booked them and not gone to them, or the staff would be willing to let standing audience in.
- Find your gang
The BIM community is huge and tiny at the same time. A conference of this size is an excellent opportunity to meet people you feel so connected to by your work, but you may find they have the audacity to live on the other end of the world.
It is, however, a huge event and if you want to meet anyone, you need to organize yourself very well. Plan what, who and where and make sure you all think the “main entrance” to be the actual same place.
Along with finding your gang – let yourself find new connections too – share the experiences with the people around yourself – you will definitely have things in common.
- Get a lip balm
Think practical stuff –
- Get a lip balm for your pocket, one for your bag, one for your other pocket.
- Get a bottle to refill – there are stations everywhere and it would have been so great if people did not use the single-use cups provided but had bottles – hydrate either way.
- Take comfy shoes. Yes, you will be staying in the same building the entire week, but trust me there is much more walking than you think! So also –
- Get plasters for your inevitable blisters
- Prepare for conference food – if you have special requirements, there may be some accommodation, but if you want to be 100% sharp for your classes you may have to sort yourself out. I myself am vegan and can’t have gluten, and while at most main meals there was at least one thing I could eat, sometimes there wasn’t anything at all, and getting outside to search for food is something you simply can’t afford time-wise.
- Have some “personal time”
After all of my advice on preparing and planning, my last bit is sort of the opposite. There are classes all the time, and you can have your schedule full and still not see all you want to see. Despite that, open a slot or two for what in your AU Schedule is conveniently called “personal time”. Before I got to AU, I was so pumped for classes, I almost forgot there is an entire Expo to explore, and some of it was truly spectacular, and really not a 15-minute quick look sort of thing.