Geosoftie since 2013

Ben Eagan

High Performance Computing Developer

Location: Geosoft Inc., Toronto, Canada
Studied: High Performance Computing (M.Sc.), and Physics (B.Sc. Hons)
Education: The University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom, and Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario


What do you do at Geosoft?

I work on developing and supporting the back-end of our VOXI and VALEM inversion services, in which a 3D earth model is calculated from survey data of the model’s surface. The inversion algorithm incorporates physics, numerical methods, geological constraints, and data compression to allow for real world data to be generated within a couple of hours.

What is unique about your role at Geosoft?

My role with Geosoft is unique because it allows me to work on a project with an academic focus, in a commercial environment. Our inversion engine used with VOXI and VALEM is a type of computing usually limited to research groups within a university. The user experience for scientific software such as this is typically an afterthought at best. Geosoft is changing this trend by doing everything we can to make the user’s experience intuitive, and their solution as accurate as possible.

Additionally, the inversion services use Microsoft’s Azure cloud to power parallel execution to bring solution times down from a couple of days to a couple of hours. Parallel programming comes with its own set of challenges involving data distribution, balancing computational effort, and synchronizing the system. I really enjoy these problems, and there are few commercial software offerings that delve into this type of computing.

It is rare to find a project with scientific and distributed computing elements, and such a low barrier of access for the users. This gives me the opportunity to provide value to a much larger number of users than in previous roles.

What do you think potential employees should know about Geosoft?

Geosoft is committed to keeping employees engaged and providing a comfortable working environment. There is a strong sense of community, fostered by annual events such as potlucks, scavenger hunts, volunteer days, hockey pools, and much more. Every company claims employees are more than just workers to them, but at Geosoft it is actually true.

What made you choose Geosoft as a place to work?

I chose Geosoft as a workplace for a couple of reasons. The most obvious reason was that Geosoft is working on some really interesting and innovative problems with a strong focus in High Performance Computing and Scientific Computing. So the opportunity to work on a project with this unique set of challenges was a strong draw. I was also interested in the culture and atmosphere of the workplace. During one of my interviews, I asked to be walked through situations where a project did not go according to plan leading to long hours or a high stress environment. With four interviewers present, it was apparent they were having a difficult time thinking of a single example. Since joining, I can understand their response. At Geosoft, employees are treated with understanding and compassion. I have yet to come across a situation where an employee has been asked to sacrifice their work life balance for a high priority project.

What do you like best about the company?

One of my favourite things about Geosoft is the shared appreciation for the outdoors. I have enjoyed many group mountain bike rides with co-workers, been given advice on how to start kite-surfing, gone on snowboarding trips, and been given very detailed advice about the best canoe routes through Algonquin Park. Plans are already in place for some scuba diving and kayaking this summer as well, and the number of mountain bikers is growing. As a software developer, a lot of my day is spent sitting at my desk. It’s really great to be surrounded by people who encourage me to get outside and have fun.

Outside of working hours, where might we find you?

Within Toronto you’ll find me hunting for the best cup of coffee, a title that is often changing, or eating at one of the many fantastic restaurants the city has to offer. You may also find me at a local concert, or trying to play some old fashioned rock and roll with friends. Otherwise I have probably left the city to get lost on my mountain bike, or hunt down a powder turn on my snowboard.

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