Notes from a hackathon

The spirit of invention is alive and well in exploration geophysics! Last weekend, Agile hosted the 3rd annual Geophysics Hackathon at Propeller, a large and very cool co-working space in New Orleans, Louisiana.

A community of creative scientists

Commensurate with the lower-than-usual turnout at the SEG Annual Meeting, which our event preceded, we had 15 hackers. The remaining hackers were not competing, but hanging out and self-teaching or hacking around with code.

As in Denver, we had an amazing showing from Colorado School of Mines, with 6 participants. I don't know what's in the water over there in the Rockies, or what the profs have been feeding these students, but it works. Such smart, creative talent. But it can't stay this one-sided... one day we'll provoke Stanford into competitive geophysics programming.

Other than the Mines crew, we had one other student (Agile's Ben Bougher, who's at UBC), the dynamic wiki duo from SEG, and the rest were professional geoscientists from large and small companies, so it was pretty well balanced between academia and industry.

Thank you

As always, we are indebted to the sponsors and supporters of the hackathon. The event would be impossible without their financial support, and much less fun without their eager participation. This year we teamed up with three companies:

  • OpenGeoSolutions, a fantastic group of geophysicists based in Calgary. You won't find better advice on signal processing problems. Jamie Alison and Greg Partyka also regularly do us the honour of judging our hackathon demos, which is wonderful.
  • EMC, a huge cloud computing company, generously supported us through David Holmes, their representative for our industry, and a fellow Landmark alum. David also kindly joined us for much of the hackathon, including the judging, which was great for the teams.
  • Palladium Consulting, a Houston-based bespoke software house run by Sebastian Good, were a new sponsor this year. Sebastian reached out to a New Orleans friend and business partner of his, Graham Ganssle, to act as a judge, and he was beyond generous with his time and insight all weekend. He also acted as a rich source of local knowledge.

Although he craves no spotlight, I have to recognize the personal generosity of Karl Schleicher of UT Austin, who is one of the most valuable assets our community has. His tireless promotion of open data and open source software is an inspiration.

And finally, Maitri Erwin again visited to judge the demos on Sunday. She brings the perfect blend of a deep and rigorous expertise in exploration geoscience and a broad and futuristic view of technology in the service of humankind. 

I will do a round up of the projects in the next couple of weeks. Look out for that because all of the projects this year were 'different'. In a good way.

If this all sounds like fun, mark your calendars for 2016! I think we're going to try running it after SEG next year, so set aside 22 and 23 October 2016, and we'll see you there. Bring a team!

PS You can already sign up for the hackathon in Europe at EAGE next year!