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Krusty Krew Member Profile – Joel Harris

By on January 31, 2011 in Featured, Profiles, The Krew with 7 Comments

Name: Joel Harris  

Location: Bellingham, WA  


Forum Alias: Zortar  

I started my educational career at California Institute of Technology in the early eighties hoping to get into the space program as an Aeronautical Engineer.  While studying there I joined the Student Space Organization and helped design and launch a couple of Space Shuttle experimental payloads, called “Get Away Specials“. 

However, academically I found myself not enjoying that particular brand of engineering education and left before completing my degree to go find out what it was I really wanted to do with my life.  I studied art at Pasadena Art Center College of Design, worked as a ski boat mechanic and lifeguard, and as an alpine ski technician.  I eventually ended up in my hometown of Bellingham, Washington working for an AutoCAD third-party developer called Synthesis doing parametric design software training and support.  This job took me all over the world working with AutoCAD dealers and users in the manufacturing industry.  As part of my job, I studied Spanish, Italian, and Japanese.  I got to help setup software to parametrically design sheep-shearing sheds in Melbourne, Autstralia and then hop on a jet to Genoa, Italy to help translate software manuals.   Unfortunately – as was the case with many software startups – our dreams and reality never formed a fruitful union so I left there to go work as an AutoCAD dealer and CAD instructor at the local technical college.  It was through that venture that I ended up working for one of my clients, Anvil Corporation.  

Here I am 20 years later still with Anvil – having worked my way up through the piping department to senior designer while managing a role in supporting the company’s CAD installations.  I’ve worked on piping design projects from the North Slope of Alaska to California and Wyoming, primarily in petroleum refining and exploration.  This experience along with a desire to learn as much as I could about customizing our AutoPlant installation led me to  Not only did I meet people with similar interests, but also these folks were facing the same issues I was having with vendor support, insufficient documentation, and trying to make it all “work together” for my users.  My main emphasis over the years has been to continually update our users with current training on CAD design software.   

Joel at work


Although I have programmed extensively in Autolisp – developing various software applications for use in our work at Anvil, I have also worked in various languages from Fortran and TurboPascal to Visual Basic and .NET in the endless pursuit of automation in the design process.  I’ve had the benefit of working with great programmers along the way like Mike Morgan, Eric Eklund, Taylor Rhea and Aaron Werning to help develop software for materials management, spec creation, and line list (LDT) management.  

When I am not in front of the computer, I love being with my wonderful wife of 20 years and my two active children- making an adventure out of life!  I have also enjoyed playing bass and rhythm guitar in various rock bands over the past 28 years (none that you’ve heard of).  During the winter, it’s time for skiing/snowboarding with my children at our local ski resort and as a chaperone on the ski bus.  Come spring and summer you’ll find me out landscaping on our property or using my tractor to create endless dirt bike trails for the children.  I also enjoy woodworking, biking, and hiking with my family.  My general philosophy is to be a life long learner of as many things as possible before my time is up.  Hopefully I have a lot more time because there are a lot of things I have yet to do!  

Applications  Expertise:
AutoCAD (26 years)
Raster Design
Bentley AutoPlant 3D (Piping, Equipment)
Bentley ProStructures (ProSteel)
Leica Cloudworx
MS Office Suite
AutoCAD Plant
CadWorx Plant

Current Programming Languages:
AutoLisp and DCL
VB 6
VB Script

Tags: , ,

About the Author

About the Author: The almighty Zortar (Joel Harris) is a piping designer with 25 years experience. In addition to piping design, Joel created the first Autodesk Plant 3D college level curriculum and teaches piping design fundamentals at his local college. Joel was a project manager on Project X and is a leader in the Krew. He has garnered the reputation of being "The Most Interesting Man In The World". .


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There Are 7 Brilliant Comments

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  1. jedi says:

    WOW. Joel, your experience is unparalleled. You are a key cog on this forum and we are all better at our jobs because of you and your generosity. I truly admire your skills, experiences and your quick wit.
    We are blessed to have you among us.

  2. TKMASHL says:

    Joel! What a great guy! What a great write up! Thanks for all the help along the way, it has been greatly appreciated.

  3. yomama says:

    WOW fantastic profile JH. You are quite well versed in everything and anything. Great to have someone with such knowledge amongst us.

  4. APlant Monkey says:

    if you think the write up is impressive you have not seen anything until you actually meet the legend. Joel is one of a kind and someone that commands respect. You have been instrumental in developing our web page and your willingness to share and teach is unparalleled. Joel it is an honor to call you a friend and colleague.

  5. rchiasson says:

    Great profile! Was a pleasure meeting you and sharing in a drink or two in Biloxi, hopefully time will allow many more. Thanks for your help on the forums. Glad to call you a friend. Keep up the great work. I want to be Zortar when I grow up.

  6. eileenf says:

    Standing ovation!

  7. Zortar the Great! Zortar the Wise! Zortar the Magnificent!

    WOW, what an amazing profile…and what an amazing journey you’ve had thus far! You’ve helped SO many people here on, including myself… more times than I care to admit! I’ve never heard a cross word, or indeed a bad word. Ever the teacher, ever the gentleman.

    But of all the titles you’ve been given, Mr. Harris, I’m sure we all agree that “Friend” is by far the one that means the most.

    One in a million!

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