Skip to main content
SFU Staff
Department of Computing Science
Communications Coordinator

Photo of Laton
What attracted him to SFU was [professor Parmit] Chilana’s focus on helping people get the most out of their software and lowering the barrier to skills that would otherwise be out of reach.

During his time at SFU, computing science graduand Laton Vermette focused on building software that can help people. This June, he is graduating with a Doctor of Philosophy Degree from the School of Computing Science.

Now a computer scientist, Vermette comes from a math background. SFU computing science professor Parmit Chilana was his supervisor while he was doing his masters in computer science at the University of Waterloo, and she invited him to join her at SFU as a visiting graduate student when she accepted a professor role at SFU’s School of Computing Science. What attracted him to SFU was Chilana’s focus on helping people get the most out of their software and lowering the barrier to skills that would otherwise be out of reach. Having enjoyed the experience at SFU as a visiting graduate student, he decided to stay to do his PhD.

His thesis was on improving the lives of educators by providing ways for them to customize the classroom software they use for teaching. Vermette’s tool, named Customizer, allows instructors to easily share example customizations which each other in learning management systems (such as Canvas). Using this tool, instructors are able to learn about the customizations that other instructors have made to their courses on Canvas, test these features without real changes or consequences to their course, and share their own customizations and rationale easily with others. This tool was well-received by instructors in a deployment study, and Vermette hopes that it can eventually be used more widely to help educators harness the full potential of their classroom software.

One of Vermette’s highlights of studying at SFU was his experience in the Interactive Experiences Lab (ixLab), which began shortly after he joined the university. Now a prominent lab featuring multiple faculty members and students, it started as a relatively small group of only a few students, including Vermette, and Chilana.

“It’s been a highlight for me to be a part of growing the ixLab into this thriving hub for human-centred design and human-computer interaction research,” he says. “What makes the ixLab very special is the focus on empowering users.”

Another highlight of his was presenting his research at CS Research Day, where he won the second-place prize in 2020.

As part of his degree, Vermette completed an internship at Microsoft, where he worked with a team that built educational software that millions of teachers and students use. This experience helped him contextualize the findings in his own research and see how the gap is bridged between academia and industry.

Now graduating, Vermette is currently interviewing for different positions, hoping to find a software engineering role where he can work in collaboration with designers and researchers to build software that will have a positive impact on people’s lives.

This story was originally published on the Faculty of Applied Sciences website on June 6, 2022.

SFU Staff
Department of Computing Science
Communications Coordinator
visibility  190
Jun 6, 2022

You Might Like These... Career Exploration, Professional Development, Workplace Transition, Student Success, SFU Alumni, Convocation

Guy wearing his graduation gown, standing at the edge of a cliff overlooking the city
Justin's Journey

After Justin and Samantha decided to create Career Friends, the rest was history. They have kept each other on track while job-hunting post graduation. Read Justin's story about his experiences after graduating in 2002, and how he overcame the challenges of finding full-time employment.

Graduation ceremony
How to Prepare for the Workforce Before Graduation

How do you stand out and stay ahead of the game in today's increasingly competitive job market? Read on to learn about 4 important resources that can help you advance your career while you're still in school.

christina wu laughing
Life After Co-op Series: Connecting Local and Global Experience

Christina Wu finished a joint major in Business and Communication at SFU and is now working as a Communications Coordinator for the BC Council for International Education. She sat down with us to share her rich Co-op experiences and how they played a significant part in developing the skills and connections she has today.

You Might Like These... Convocation

Photo of Carolyn
Years of Involvement in the SIAT Program

Carolyn Yip graduates with a BA in Interactive Arts & Technology. During her time as a SIAT student, she was heavily involved in the IAT student union and took part in several co-op internships where she gained experience in various fields such as video editing, UX design, and entrepreneurship.

Photo of Charlotte
From Student Advocacy to Law School

It only took one archaeology course in her first year for Charlotte Taylor-Baer to discover her love for the subject. With a passion for forensic sciences and a dream of one day becoming a criminal defense lawyer, a double major in archaeology and criminology just made sense.

Picture of a key
9 Keys to Success After Graduation

With all the hard work and perseverance over four years (or more), graduation is a joyful and special time full of recognition and anticipations. In other words, you have to get ready to the competitive world and say goodbye to your comfort zone.