News Release

Learning Company Co-Founded by UC San Diego Researcher Secures $10 Million

Albert Lin
Albert Yu-Min Lin is an alumus of the Jacobs School of Engineering.

San Diego, CA, September 17, 2015 -- Planet3, an exploration-based learning company, has announced it has secured $10 million in funding to launch a digital learning platform that presents the entire Earth as a living laboratory. The company was co-founded by the University of California, San Diego’s Albert Yu-Min Lin, with former National Geographic president Tim Kelly and award winning game designer Vijay Lakshman. Empowering student curiosity and achievement, Planet3 targets Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) subjects. The company’s first product focuses on middle school Earth, Life, and Physical Sciences, with an initial release scheduled for Fall 2016. 

Modeled on the Next Generation Science Standards, Planet3’s instructional design combines immersive game-based challenges and real-world context to provide exploration-based learning experiences. Planet3 emphasizes data analytics and visualization to encourage students to gather evidence and craft their own conclusions. 

Integrating the most advanced Earth observing networks of NASA, NOAA, and other research entities, Planet3’s hyper-connected platform enables students to explore and contribute to real world science.

"The most exciting thing about science is the unknown — anything is possible,” says Lin, who is a research scientist with the UC San Diego Qualcomm Institute, where Planet3 holds an office. Lin is a three-time alumnus of the mechanical and aerospace engineering department at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering. “Bridging concepts like crowdsourced citizen science into the classroom will not only bring real world purpose to each subject but may also lead to a new age of discovery."

The Series A round was funded by Switch, the Nevada-based developer of the renowned SUPERNAP Data Centers. Rob Roy, CEO of Switch, will serve as Chairman of Planet3. Mr. Roy, a leading technology entrepreneur and innovator, is a driving force behind STEAM education improvements in Nevada.

“Planet3’s world class management team is pioneering a new approach to STEAM education,” said Planet3 Chairman, Rob Roy. “By integrating curriculum into an immersive learning environment where students are challenged and excited to learn, we aim to deliver improved learning outcomes. Our collective future will be determined by our efforts to vastly improve the education system. We expect Planet3 to make a significant contribution toward this goal.”

Co-founded and led by Tim Kelly, former President of the National Geographic Societyand media pioneer, the Planet3 team is comprised of leaders in science, education, game design, and technology.

In addition to being an award-winning research scientist at UC San Diego Albert Yu-Min Lin, co-founder and Chief Science Officer, is an also an Explorer for National Geographic. Lin is widely recognized for developing technology applications that merge remote exploration with crowdsourced citizen science. 

Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer, Vijay Lakshman, is an award-winning author, AAA software developer, and creative IP expert. He has published over 85 game titles in his 25 year career including mega-franchises such as The Elder Scrolls: Arena, Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon, The Lord of the Rings, and Animal Jam.

Also joining the team is Chief Learning Officer Kelly McGrath, former head of K-12 Science Curriculum Development at Pearson. She is a veteran science and math educator with a design engineering background as a former engineer with the submarine division of General Dynamics.

Completing the executive team is Chief Technology Officer, Royal O’Brien. He is a serial technology entrepreneur who has founded and successfully commercialized multiple enterprises with patented technologies, including BitRaider in 2006. He has served as a US Marine and in key technical roles such as enterprise architect with companies like IBM Global Services and Prudential.

“We all depend entirely on this Earth – ‘Planet3’ – to sustain life as we know it. The challenges of a rapidly changing environment are matched by the lightning-fast evolution of science and technology. Our biggest opportunity is to improve the way we engage future generations to innovate solutions,” said Tim Kelly, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Planet3. “Fortunately, we live in a moment in time when we can use astonishing digital tools and immersive technology to connect students and teachers to our changing planet. This exploration-based learning approach is what Planet3 will deliver.”

About Planet3

Planet3 is an exploration-based learning company that presents the entire Earth as a living laboratory. Empowering student curiosity and achievement, Planet3 targets Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) subjects. Its digital learning platform uniquely combines immersive game-based environments, real-world context, and standards-based curriculum to promote better learning outcomes. For more information, visit

Media Contacts

Tiffany Fox
Qualcomm Institute