On-Campus Employment Information for Graduate Students

Graduate Research Assistantships (GRAs)

Some graduate students obtain work as Graduate Research Assistants (GRAs) on research projects carried out by the faculty. These research assistantships are usually awarded by the professor to qualified students and are dependent on funding. The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering does not have an abundance of RAships but they are an excellent opportunity for those who receive them.

If a student is offered a GRA, the faculty member offering the GRA will need to contact the ECE PhD Program Advisor/Coordinator to start the process. All students who receive a GRA will need to sign a contract along with their academic supervisor(s) and employing faculty member. Students cannot be paid until all parties have signed the contract and it has been returned to EIT 3024.

The tasks and responsibilities of a RAship are to be agreed upon by the employing faculty member and the student. Depending on the nature of the work and what lab will be used in the RAship, students may be required to take additional safety training before being permitted to begin their duties. The employing faculty member should advise the student what safety training is required for the position. If there is any uncertainty, please contact the Facilities Coordinator in EIT 3156.

Full-time students who receive a Graduate Research Assistantship may not hold other positions within or outside the university, such as a Teaching Assistantship, a Sessional appointment, or other employment exceeding a total of 160 hours per term.

GRA salaries are taxed and subject to other deductions. For International Students, research assistantships cannot be taken up nor payment made until the student has obtained a Social Insurance Number.

Graduate Teaching Assistantships (GTAs)

Applying for TA Applications

An e-mail calling for TA applications for a given term will be sent out early in the second month of the term prior (October for Winter term, February for Spring term, June for Fall term). Only students who are eligible to apply will receive this e-mail.

The criteria for eligible applicants are:

  1. Must be an MASc or PhD student in Electrical and Computer Engineering
    1. Must be within their first 6 terms for MASc students
    2. Must be within their first 13 terms for PhD students
  2. Must be an active, full-time on-campus in the term the TAship is to be held in
  3. Cannot be on probation in the term of application
  4. No TA infractions from the current term
  5. No more than 1 TA infraction from previous terms
  6. Cannot be in the final term of study for your program

Students will be given two weeks to apply once the application e-mail has been sent out. Late applications will not be accepted. Students should speak with their supervisor(s) before applying for a TAship. Once an application is submitted the student’s supervisor is notified and given the opportunity to veto the application.

After the application site closes course and lab instructors will be given two weeks to rank the applicants for their courses. Instructors are encouraged to interview applicants during this time.

After the ranking has closed the TA Assignment Committee will meet to assign TAships. This can take up to two weeks. Once all TA positions have been allocated, TA Offer Letters will be sent out via e-mail to all students who have received a TAship. If you do not receive a letter, this, unfortunately, means you did not receive a TAship.

ECE does not have enough TA positions to guarantee a position to all applicants and also does not accept applicants from other departments for this reason.

TA Offer Letters

Students who receive TA Offer Letters should read over it over carefully as it is a job contract. Offer Letters should be returned to the ECE PhD Program Advisor/Coordinator in EIT 3024 by the listed due date. Offer Letters not submitted by this date will be assumed to be declined and another candidate will be selected.

Holding a TAship

A full-time Teaching Assistantship is 130 hours per term, averaging 10 hours per week. A part-time Teaching Assistantship is 65 hours per term, averaging 5 hours per week. Graduate Teaching Assistants may not hold other positions within or outside the university, such as a Research Assistantship, a Sessional appointment, or other employment exceeding a total of 160 hours per term.

Once a student has accepted a TAship they should get in contact with the course/lab instructor to receive important information about start dates, meetings, and position requirements. TA duties may include tutoring, marking assignments, laboratory and/or project assistance, holding office hours for consultation with students, proctoring exams, and other duties designated by the course coordinator or department. Teaching Assistants are required to be available the first day of the first month up to the last day of the last month of the assigned term.

In addition to the above duties, a full TA position may include the proctoring one additional mid-term and one additional final exam. A half TA position may include the proctoring of one additional midterm or final exam.

GTA salaries are taxed and subject to other deductions. For International Students, teaching assistantships cannot be taken up nor payment made until the student has obtained a Social Insurance Number.

TA contracts can be terminated if the student fails to meet the employment standards for international students set by the Government of Canada and/or provide UW Human Resources with a valid social insurance number by 15th of the first month of the term of employment (September 15th, January 15th, May 15th).

Safety Training

Teaching Assistants are expected to complete the ExpecTAtions workshop, which includes WHMIS training. The workshop is held in September and April of each year. As an employee of the university, TAs are required to complete mandatory training;

These courses are available online. In addition, lab TAs may be required to take additional training sessions. Your Safety Training Record can be reviewed on the Safety Office website at any time.

Demerit Point System

The department will keep track of TA infractions and enforce a demerit point policy. When an infraction is logged, an email will be sent to the TA, the TA’s academic supervisor, and the Teaching Assistant Administrative Officer.

TA infractions and the associated penalty are as follows:

  1. Failing to show-up and perform an assigned duty as acceptable to the course and/or lab instructor (e.g., proctoring assignment, lab supervision, tutorial delivery, marking assignment, ...) without acceptable documentation.
    1. first infraction, one demerit point, prevent from applying for TA in next cycle
    2. second infraction, second demerit point, prevent from applying for TA for the remainder of the student’s program
  2. Signing a contract initially and then resigning without acceptable reasons.
    1. first infraction, one demerit point, prevent from applying for TA in next cycle
    2. second infraction, second demerit point, prevent from applying for TA for the remainder of the student’s program

If the student can complete two terms of satisfactory TAships after receiving a demerit point the point will be removed from their record.

In the case of an appeal/grievance, the ECE TA demerit point tribunal (GAC, UGAC, GSA) will hear the case. If one of the tribunal has a conflict-of-interest, the ECE chair will replace that person on the tribunal.

Payroll

GRAs and GTAs are paid on the last Friday of each month of the assigned term. All GRAs and GTAs are required to be registered with Human Resources to ensure they are paid properly, with no delays. In order to be registered with payroll, students will need to submit 3 forms;

Direct Deposit Form – This form ensures that your pay will be deposited directly into your bank account. If you are already receiving payments from the University directly into your bank account (GRS, GRA, TA, etc.) you do not need to complete this form. To check that your banking information on file is correct you can login to the MyHR website using your Quest credentials and view all your payroll information.

Federal TD1 Form and Provincial TD1 Form – These forms need to be filled out once each year by all employees. If you have already submitted your TD1 forms for this year you do not need to again. If you are unsure if you have submitted them or not, submit them again to be on the safe side. If you need assistance completing these forms please refer to the help forms (Tips for Completing TD1 forms) on the Human Resources website.

You can bring your completed payroll forms to the ECE PhD Program Advisor/Coordinator in EIT 3024.

If, for any reason, you require confirmation of your employment history at the University of Waterloo (GRA or TA), please complete a Request for Employment Letter and submit it to Human Resources in the General Services Complex. The department cannot issue employment confirmation letters under any circumstances.

SIN Numbers

All GRAs and GTAs are required to provide Human Resources with a valid SIN number before their first pay period of each term. If not already on file, a copy of your valid SIN number should be taken to the Human Resources office in East Campus 1 (EC1) so they they can enter it into your record. The department will also need a copy of this information.

If you are an international student and do not have a valid SIN for the term of employment you will need to go to a Service Canada centre to apply for one. You will need to bring your passport and study permit with you to apply. The nearest Service Canada Centre to campus is located at 25 Frederick Street, Suite 200 in Kitchener.

For more information on social insurance numbers and how to apply you can visit the International Student Experience website or the Government of Canada Social Insurance Number website.