Renee Carney

Ask Engineering Leadership Anything

Blog Post created by Renee Carney Administrator on Jun 22, 2018

Returning for the second year is an opportunity for you to ask your burning questions of Instructure’s engineering and product leadership team: Senior VP of Engineering David Burggraaf, Chief Architect Zach Wily, VP of Technology Services Q.Wade Billings, VP of Canvas Engineering Steve Townsend, VP of Quality Assurance Matt Fairbourn, and VP of Canvas Product Chris Hunter.


If you’ve been intrigued about the inner workings of Canvas, come and hear the team discuss topics such as:

  • Technical direction—APIs, Data access, standards, open source, micro-services, mobile, events/async notification
  • State of the art development and operations protocols: Amazon Web Services, security, ensuring quality and reliability, code deploys, monitoring and alerting
  • Product strategy
  • Availability, accessibility, and platform performance


This year, just like last year, you'll have the opportunity to submit your questions in advance. Interested in submitting a question?

  1. Review the questions posted in the comments below.
  2. When you find a question you'd like answered, click the comment's Like button.
  3. If your question hasn't already been posted, share it as a written or recorded comment (use Flipgrid, password is instcon18, to record and share the link). Once your question has posted, others will be able to see and Like your comment.
  4. Pertinent questions with the most likes will be answered.
  5. Questions will be accepted until Tuesday evening (July 24), the night before the session.
  6. If your pertinent question is not answered during the live panel, it will be answered in this comment thread after InstructureCon.


In the previous instructions, did you notice the word “pertinent”? The leadership panel is a high-level strategy conversation that is not intended to address tactical questions about specific product development. So what are some examples of pertinent, high-level questions? Here are a few:


Strategic/pertinent: Why do you release as frequently as you do?
Overly tactical: Our school needs you to release code every 6 weeks instead of 3, will you make that change, please?


Strategic/pertinent: I hear you guys do hackweeks. What is it and what has come from it?
Overly tactical: Will you please assign one of your engineers to develop [this one feature] during their hackweek?


Strategic/pertinent: I hear a lot about cyber attacks around the world. What does Instructure do to prevent unauthorized access? Have there been any breaches?
Overly tactical: How do I sign up to participate in your Bug Crowd hacking program?


Strategic/pertinent: How much money and time do you spend on R&D? How much is spent on new features? How much on maintenance? How much on HigherEd? How much on K12?
Overly tactical: How many engineers do you have on the Gradebook project?


Strategic/pertinent: How do you prioritize and allocate resources for your product roadmap?
Overly tactical: Why isn’t Quizzes.Next at parity with Canvas quizzes yet?