Eli Harris has been with vCAD since the beginning. He is a lead developer and a key player with multiple skill sets to offer. His interest in computer science, as well as business, has played a huge role in the success he has reached while at vCAD. He believes in the product because he knows the ins and outs of the whole conversion process since he helped create it. Learn more about Eli below!
What are you studying in school?
I’m studying Computer Science at the University of Tennessee.
What drew you to this field of study?
I have been infatuated with all things technology ever since I was a wee little tot. Growing up with a grandfather who was an incredibly skilled electrician, I adopted his same interests. We were always working on the neatest projects, but during that time, computers were still emerging, so I never took interest in programming. Fast forward to when I was 12, there was an extremely popular game called Runescape. Long story short, I figured out you could program a bot that would play the game for you. That's where my love for programming began.
Did your interests change at all along the way?
I have always had an entrepreneurial mindset, so it was a difficult choice between a business or computer science degree. I ultimately chose computer science believing it would be considerably more helpful than a business degree.
What has been the most impactful courses?
There is one course in specific that I found very interesting, and it gave me a whole new appreciation for modern programming languages. Assembly takes you to the core of all the programming, and you have to write several lines of code to perform tasks that modern languages let you do in one line.
How did you get connected to vCAD?
My freshman year I had the opportunity to help collaborate on a senior design project, and I wrote a program to mirror what a VR user was seeing inside their headset to a computer. The professor of that design group then recruited me for a new company he was starting. This professor is our CEO, Lee Martin.
What is your role at vCAD?
I help on many different facets of the software, but I primarily focus on the conversion engine that turns CAD files into the vCAD.
What have you learned from the experience?
I've learned way too many things to list, but there are a few critical experiences I wouldn't trade for anything. First, it's been priceless to be involved in starting a company. I get to see firsthand how a business operates and the challenges a new company faces when getting off its feet. Second, learning how to take a software into production. There's a lot of moving parts in the vCAD ecosystem, so ensuring that all our customers have a seamless experience when updates occur and when features are added is easier said than done.
What projects are you most proud of?
I think our whole web experience is spectacular. It's intuitive so that everyone can use it, and the process of uploading a CAD file is ridiculously easy. It was a massive team effort to create the experience that exists today. The devil is in the details; creating a fluid experience that everyone can understand is a task that should not be underestimated.
What are your plans and goals post-graduation?
I want to get some additional experience in the industry as a developer, but I won't continue that for long. My ultimate goal is to run my own business that develops cutting-edge software.
How does vCAD help students?
Students who are designing in 3D modeling software understand the pains of portability when it comes to sharing their projects. Now, students can effortlessly store their creations right inside the cloud, and it can be accessed from any mobile device directly in the vCAD app.
What is most exciting and valuable about the product to you?
We have taken a traditionally complex problem and made it dumb easy. Before vCAD came to the table, there wasn't a CAD distribution software that was this easy, let alone cloud-based.