Want a recipe for a great conference?
- Gather up 600 really smart Revit nerds.
- Mix together with a heap of in-depth classes and labs.
- Add in a splash (OK, more than a splash) of booze.
- Drizzle the whole concoction with old friends and some new ones too.
- Then bake it all together for 3 days in 120 degree Arizona heat.
That was the recipe for this year’s RTC North America conference. Like a lot of really good recipes, this one sounded suspicious at first (Arizona in the summer???) But let me tell you, the RTC staff and volunteers pulled off a masterpiece.
Yes, Arizona’s really hot in the summer. It’s like a blast furnace. Fortunately, we spent most of the day holed up in air-conditioned conference rooms, soaking in knowledge, not sun.
I usually grouse about conferences and the fact that you’re stuck inside all day. But in this case, I made an exception. I was happy to be inside, and not just for the cool air. The classes and labs are the main attraction for every RTC conference.
I presented two sessions on automation, “Code vs Node: The Ultimate Revit Automation Smackdown” and “Automate the Boring Stuff with Revit Macros”. Both were well attended, which is always good, but they were also really fun to present.
One of the downsides of presenting two sessions is that I totally consumed with preparing and practicing that I didn’t participate in many activities the first couple days. The classes I did attend, however, were excellent.
Jeff Pinhiero, AKA The Revit Kid and a fellow nutmegger, led a lively discussion on what contractors actually do with our models. Like most architects, I was skeptical going in but Jeff dispelled many of my concerns through actual use cases and a weird cartoon.
Chris Needham presented some interesting work he’s doing with the Sydney Opera House. I’ve written previously on BIM and facilities management. It’s really interesting to see how it’s being used to manage such a prominent building. Talk about a massive model!
I’ve been getting more into data visualization with my own work so I was excited to sit in on Shawn Zirbes‘ class on integrating Microsoft’s Power BI with Revit. I filled a couple pages of my notebook with things to try out.
This was my second RTC conference, having attended RTC Europe in 2014. One thing to note about RTC is that they take the social aspects of the conference very seriously. After a day of intense classes, it’s great to talk with like-minded people over a beer or two. Plus, RTC doesn’t skimp on the food and entertainment. There was live music, pool parties (complete with Monty Python movies), a costume party, and even a Flowrider!
Also, given how much interaction takes place online these days, it’s very cool to meet people I follow and who follow me, in real life. A special thanks to all the ArchSmarter readers who introduced yourselves. That was definitely the highlight of my week.
RTC is run by a core group of staff who manage the overall organization and a host of dedicated volunteers who put on the regional conferences. It’s a huge amount of work. How they manage to do what they do AND maintain a full-time job astounds me. This year’s conference ended with a touching, and well deserved round of thanks to all the RTC staff and volunteers.
RTC conferences are not cheap. Unlike other conferences I’ve spoken at, RTC speakers don’t get a free ride. You get a discount on the conference fees but still end up paying a fair bit out of pocket. The fact that the organizers still manage to get an impressive line-up of speakers is a testament to the quality of the conference. You might be an expert but you’re still going to learn something new.
At its core, RTC is about bringing people together to share ideas and learn new ways of working. That it’s done with such high production values and a sense of humor is a tribute to the staff and volunteers, not to mention all the presenters and attendees.
RTC keeps growing (this was the 38th conference) and getting better. There are now four main RTC conferences a year plus several smaller, more focused ones. If you want to understand what’s going on with technology in the AEC industry, you need to look no further than RTC. One thing is certain – I’ll definitely be going back for next year’s conference.
Looking forward to RTC Toronto in 2017!