An Interview with Rob Cohee

I had a few burning questions for Autodesk and who better to answer them than Rob Cohee, Manufacturing Technical Evangelist with Autodesk. Rob answers some of my questions related to the introduction of Design Suites with the 2012 product launch and the role of digital prototyping in today’s manufacturing environment. Thanks again Rob for taking the time to answer my questions.

With the new design suites available from Autodesk. New software and capabilities will be available to users that may have only been exposed to AutoCAD or Inventor before. Does Autodesk see a change in direction where companies are asking for engineers and designers to perform more tasks than what was previously considered normal for these type positions?

Many, not all of course, but many customers are doing conceptual design sketches and layouts, rendering or high resolution imagery, or fully immersive renderings. Some of that is being done in our products, some of it is not. We believe that its more productive to use tools purpose built for conceptual design, design and engineering, and visualization – more over they should work well together as to not ask someone to re-draw or re-model due to a change in application. This has been the foundation of our Digital Prototyping strategy all along, and now with Suites, customers can achieve the benefits of digital prototyping in an easy to use, manage, and deploy Suite

With the introduction of Showcase, Mudbox, and Alias into the suite available for designers. How does Autodesk envision the utopia product design cycle a year from now? …5 years from now?

As you know I can’t talk about future functionalities, but I can tell you what our customers are saying and asking us for as they adopt Digital Prototyping. We hear time and time again that it is no longer the exception to repurpose engineering data in all forms at various stages of design for concept, engineering, analysis, technical publications, and marketing collateral – it is the rule. As such – they need the right tool at the right time to do the right job.

Imagine using word tables to calculate formulas or numbers – the end result looks the same as it would in Excel. But Excel is the right tool for that job – the same analogy can be applied again and again to the tools within the Suites.

Autodesk has introduced AutoCAD WS and Inventor Publisher for iOS devices, making a push for mobility with it’s applications. You still see many large companies slow to adopt anything outside of a standard workstation setup for it’s workers. Are they behind the trend or still the norm?

Our position has always been to provide people the tools that they need to continue working today – for example, we rarely strip away functionality even if we have created new tools that make old tools seem, well old. Because we know that people may have written automation routines or scripts that use that old code. In comparison to other CAD companies we have had few re-writes such that old automation routines no longer work.

The same can be said about mobile devices and our strategy there. Take a look at Inventor Publisher for example. While it creates some of the most incredible interactive, 3D instructions that can be viewed on a mobile device – it also creates the exploded views, line art, and has an integration in with Microsoft Word. Many companies today still use Word or PDF to document their technical publications – and Inventor Publisher does mobile and traditional tech pubs very well.

Autodesk is definitely going social in many ways. How does Autodesk see engineering using social networking as a component of there daily work in the future?

I think you’ll find more in-product social media and we’ve made great strides this year with the 2012 products. Take a look at the tutorials and tips and tricks – they send you right to a Wiki. Now the thing about it, is that a Wiki is only as good as its content providers, and we have great tutorials and help files, but it is our users that will move it from great to exceptional. It’s a true Wiki, and nobody likes to talk about how much they know about our products more than our users do!

[ More About Rob Cohee | Blog | YouTube Channel | Twitter: @RobCohee ]
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