A Q&A with 2017 Bill Abramson College of Fellows Award Winner Phil Harrison

Annually, the Bill Abramson College of Fellows Award is given to individuals that have made noteworthy achievements Fellows award.pngand contributions to CAD/CAM/CAE/CAx, specifically as they impact Dassault Systèmes suite of products. As analysis, design and manufacturing pushes forward, old boundaries are overtaken and new perspectives are important for all members in our profession. Thus, this status of leadership establishes a high level of honor and visibility.

Phil Harrison and Bernard Charlès were recognized as 2017 recipients of the Bill Abramson College of Fellows Award. We talked with Phil Harrison, principal consultant at LionHeart Solutions, about his experience receiving this honor at COE 2017.

What did you enjoy about the COE 2017 Annual Experience and TechniFair? How many times have you attended in the past?

It’s a big, friendly atmosphere with lots of exciting things to see. I always enjoy the networking opportunities that are available at the lunches and receptions, or just bumping into someone in the corridors!

I always find the general sessions particularly inspiring; this year Dr. Steven Levine’s presentation on Dassault’s Living Heart Project really moved me. The use of a systems approach and modelling can now influence major health issues that we as a society face.

I attended my first conference was in 1989. I have attended every national conference (there used to be two per year) and all but two of our workshops, so I’m estimating around 40 events.

Did you know you were receiving the Bill Abramson College of Fellows Award before the event?

Absolutely not! I only realized that I was the recipient when Bob Deragisch said that the person had been COE President for nine years. There are only two people that have been president for more than three years — that’s Bill Abramson and myself.

How did it feel to receive this recognition in front of your peers?

I must say it makes me very proud; many of my peers came up to me in the breaks and receptions and congratulated me on the award. It sits proudly on the bookshelf in my office. I work with several multi-national companies helping them implement PLM processes and optimizing their infrastructure to let people create great products. Every day is different with new challenges, that’s what drives me.

I felt complete and utter surprise. There are numerous big names that have received this award in the past – people that really pushed Dassault Systèmes products not only for their own companies, but also for the entire industry.

Tell us about your relationship with Bill Abramson.

I was introduced to Bill Abramson at Grumman by our IBM Sales representative before selecting CATIA for an automotive parts manufacturer. Bill suggested that we attend an upcoming COE conference in Seattle, WA, which we did. I was really impressed with the capabilities of CATIA (it was just CATIA back then) and how Dassault’s customer base was working together to overcome issues. Joining COE after we introduced CATIA, we learned many things from COE member companies small and large, and we decided we should give back.

What contributions to CAD/CAM/CAE/CAx affecting the Dassault Systèmes suite of products are you proudest of?

I’m particularly proud of three things:

  1. Working with Dassault Systèmes and IBM in the early nineties, we realized that an integration effort was needed to assure customers of reliability and performance of RS/6000s running CATIA with the new hardware and middleware. Working with Katie Barrett of IBM, IBM and Dassault set up the CASIL lab in Austin, Texas. COE sent testers from member companies to the lab for testing.
  2. I set up COE’s first internet forum (actually a bulletin board on CompuServe) in the early 1990s. Today, we take forums for granted, letting people around the world help each other; it was a big deal 25 years ago. It looked crude and slow compared to today’s forums.
  3. In the late 1990s, I worked with Arneau Ribideau-Dumas of Dassault and Ralph Springer of IBM on a new technology running Java applets over the internet to view CATIA data with a new product called CATWeb. If you’re using ENOVIA products, you’re seeing the fruits of our early efforts.

Are you looking forward to taking advantage of free lifetime COE event registration and COE individual membership?

As long as I am working in the PLM field, I will continue to attend COE conferences. There isn’t a more efficient way to gain knowledge on new Dassault Systèmes products and learn how to implement them. The peer network I have built up over the years helps solve complex problems throughout the year. Working within COE has given me many opportunities to improve my person skill set, and I’ve gained many longtime friends around the globe.

Even if these weren’t benefits of winning the award, why do you remain a member of COE and return to its events?

It’s worth the investment in time and money. Technology is complicated, and with COE, you can access the most efficient way of learning and learn how to implement. Especially smaller companies that vendors aren’t visiting. That’s how they gain exposure and find out what’s there.

About Phil Harrison

Phil Harrison is principal of LionHeart Solutions, Inc., a consulting firm working with clients, such as BMW and Sikorsky, on PLM methods and infrastructure. Harrison holds a BSc (Hons) in aero engineering from University of Bath (UK). His hobbies include travel, Formula 1 racing, Lotus cars and wine.

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