Welcome! I am Gail (Banaszkiewicz) Carmichael.  I manage external education programs at Shopify.

About Me

My varied background in both computer science education and software development has provided me with an interesting set of valuable skills.  I have contributed to traditional software development projects, but I have also delved deeper into what it means to be a good programmer when designing curriculum for outreach programs and undergraduate courses.  In my role as a faculty instructor, I was not only an educator and designer, but also an effective manager overseeing up to 700 students and 18 teaching assistants at a time.

I am also passionate about sharing my joy of computer science with others, especially girls and women.  I am a co-founder of Carleton University's Women in Science and Engineering (CU-WISE), a member of the now disbanded Advisory Board for the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology, and a long-time contributor to the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing.  I am currently working on setting up a more formal Canadian branch of Girl Develop It! and continue to participate in many outreach initiatives.

Latest News

Featured on GEreports Women in STEM Series

I was recently interviewed for an article highlighting women in STEM as part of GEreports' Women in STEM series (Read the article.)

It used to be that formal education happened in schools, but Gail Carmichael is proof that’s an outdated concept. As the manager of external education programs at Shopify, she’s in charge of forming partnerships between secondary and post-secondary educational institutions and the Ottawa-based e-commerce software company. As a former Carleton University computer science instructor, Carmichael is right at home creating opportunities for young people — and, by extension, the industry, too.

Joining Shopify

On June 30, I wrapped up my two-year term as a faculty instructor in the School of Computer Science, Carleton University.  On July 13, I am excited to be joining Shopify as a software developer on the Merchant Analytics team.

Keynoting at Women and Technology 2015

I am honoured to be the invited keynote for Women and Technology 2015, a meeting of Ontario scholars working in applied and technical fields, the natural sciences, humanities, and social sciences.  I will be talking about my efforts to get more women into computer science.

Jason and the Golden Fleece on Github

I have publicly posted the current version of my Jason and the Golden Fleece game on GitHub.  The game is functional, but not complete.  In particular, the user interface and story engine work, but the content is a placeholder.

PhD Thesis Proposal Complete

On December 15 2014, I passed the thesis proposal requirement for the PhD program.  My research scope will narrow, and I will now focus more on the mechanics to arrange story events than their use in games specifically.  I wrote about the proposal experience on my blog.

Gram's House NSF AISL Pathways Grants Funded

Gram's House is a research project I started several years ago with a prototype originally designed for Microsoft's Imagine Cup competition.  Since then, a core team has formed around the project, and we just got awarded two NSF Pathways grants for the Advancing Informal STEM Learning program:

I will be participating in the first project on story as a contractor.

Featured in TechGirls Canada's Portraits of Strength

I was recently featured on Portraits of Strength, which "features women in STEM who have helped break barriers and achieved great things within their industry." Read my profile here.

Recipient of Carleton University's Faculty of Science 2013 Excellence in Teaching Award

I received the Excellence in Teaching Award at our Faculty of Science's holiday reception on December 10, 2013.  I am very honored to receive it at this early stage of my career.

Faculty Instructor

I have been hired by the School of Computer Science at Carleton University as a faculty instructor for a one year term beginning July 1 2013.  I will be teaching a variety of first, second, and third year courses for both majors and non-majors.

Poster Presentation at GRAND 2013

I will be presenting a poster at GRAND 2013 for the BELIEVE project.  This is the abstract we submitted:

Crafting satisfying narratives while preserving player freedom of action is a longstanding challenge for computer games.  Many games use a quest structure, allowing players to experience content nonlinearly.  However, this risks creating disjointed stories when side quests only minimally integrate with the main story. We propose a flexible, scene-based story system that reacts dynamically to the player’s actions.

In the proposed system, stories are defined within a graph where nodes represent scenes and edges represent causality.  Nodes are tagged with information including possible locations for the scene, the plans or goals connected to the scene, and the agents and objects involved in the scene.  At any time, the distance from the player’s current game state to nodes in the story graph is measured according to five dimensions of nonlinearity: time, space, causality, agents involved, and the player’s goal.  The system will use the distance to determine what nodes should be available at any given time.  Scenes will be modified dynamically according to when and where they ultimately take place, ensuring that each node has a narrative connection to its predecessors.  This system allows for potentially connected stories driven by player action, leading to a more cohesive emergent story.