Rowan Cockett

I am interested in the intersection of education, entrepreneurship, and academia, and seeing what happens when you make powerful scientific modeling, visualization and collaboration tools accessible through the web.

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I started creating geoscience visualization software as an undergraduate when I saw many of my peers struggling with three dimensional intuition. After sharing my initial visualizations with my peers, it was clear that I had stumbled upon an extremely effective teaching method. I took a year off after my undergrad in geology to re-write my Matlab code for the web and posted on a single blog and promptly started graduate school.


With Visible Geology out in the world, I started getting contacted by textbook companies and oil and gas professionals. I started Visible Geology, an online 3D geologic modeling tool. Since launching in 2011, over 350,000 people have used Visible Geology and they create over 30,000 geologic models a month! This idea was bigger than I had first thought and after watching a Ted Talk I was convinced I should start a company. Two years of work, a single blog post comment and my first 5000 users!
In 2010 in the USA, there were only 23,983 undergraduate students enrolled in the geosciences.
I started 3point Science, a geoscience visualization company. I co-founded 3point Science in 2013 with Adam Pidlisecky and Tara Moran where we built web-based visualization software for the geoscience industry. We experimented in three different industries, built things, hired people, launched websites, wrote grants, got rejected, pivoted, bootstrapped, launched, and pitched visions of the future. I was also a full-time PhD student. It was crazy. In 2015, we ran a interactive presentation for a mining symposium and caught the eye of a number of companies who saw the web as the natural next step for their business. 3point Science was acquired by Aranz Geo in March 2016, and I remained on as the CTO. 3point Science was acquired by Aranz Geo. In 2017, the parent company re-branded to Seequent and consolidated 3point Science into the cloud computing division; I became the Director of Cloud Architecture. Micro-seismic events in Steno3D At Seequent, we have been working on Steno3D a 3D visualization tool for scientific Python users and LF View a 3D communication platform for users of the geoscience modeling package Leapfrog 3D.



My undergraduate degree is in applied and environmental geology from the University of Calgary. I completed an honors thesis in my final year under the supervision of Adam Pidlisecky. I made imaginary rocks. I had been working with Adam on building some electrical conductivity probes designed for a managed aquifer recharge pond in California. My thesis analyzed some of the geophysics data from the pond and interrogated a pore-scale numerical model.


I took a year off after undergrad to travel and launch Visible Geology on the web and then in 2012 started a masters degree in Geophysics with Eldad Haber at the University of British Columbia. I started SimPEG, an open source geophysical inversion framework. I transfered from a masters to a doctorate program in 2013. This is also when I decided that I had copious amounts of free time, and should probably start a company. This fixed the free time problem. Research, code, attend conferences, write, present, open-science-ify, run a conference, burnout, rally, publish, move to Calgary, burnout, rally, dissertate. In 2017, I finished my PhD. My research was on a numerical framework aimed at increasing quantitative communication in the geosciences. This framework has been developed through my studies on electromagnetics, subsurface flow, and structural geology. Much of my research is accessible through an open-source software initiative for simulations and parameter estimation in geophysics (SimPEG).


SimPEG is an experiment in building a community around open-source geoscience tools that are focused on multi-physics, multi-data-type inversions and simulations. We have only barely scratched the surface. A big part of moving this forward requires educational materials, so, I have been involved in supporting an effort to create reproducible, modular and interactive educational materials. This is an experiment in collaboration and writing while trying to poke at ideas in scientific publishing. I am working introspectively at the moment, and keeping things small - just playing around with how to structure my website.