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Lab Director, Teaching

Date: January, 2016
Reports to (Job Title): Senior Associate Chair
Jobs Reporting (Job Titles):

Laboratory Instructor/Coordinator (3 positions)

Lab Manager/Instructor – Nanotechnology Engineering

Lab Instructor/Hardware Specialist (10 positions)

Lab Instructor/Software Specialist (5 positions)

Electronic Service Technician/Stores Keeper

Department: Electrical & Computer Engineering


Main Campus


USG 13
35 hr/wk

Primary Purpose

The Lab Director, Teaching is accountable to the Senior Associate Chair to provide senior operational and managerial support for the undergraduate lab courses. The undergraduate teaching laboratories support the credit-based laboratory component of and the long-term stability of the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) undergraduate program. The Lab Director contributes to the design, implementation, maintenance and upgrade of the ECE lab courses in two core programs, four interdisciplinary programs, and 10 specialization areas. The Lab Director ensures that instructional design, content and skill development enhance the learning experience in ECE lab, design project and workshop courses. The Lab Director works closely with the Associate Chair Undergraduate Studies and is a member of the Undergraduate Studies Committee.  


The Lab Director provides leadership in long and short-term operational planning including managing laboratory operating expenditures, sourcing capital equipment, or recommending and managing renovation projects for the teaching labs.  The Lab Director has overall accountability for the design and fabrication of lab apparatuses and is required to have broad knowledge of hardware and software.

The Lab Director is expected to teach two lab courses in one of the instructional areas, as well as oversee instruction performed by ECE Lab Instructors and Lab Teaching Assistants (TAs).  As such, the Lab Director must be competent in the theory taught in various core lab courses offered, providing an advanced level of guidance, instruction and technical assistance to undergraduate students. 

Key Accountabilities:


Undergraduate Lab Operations:

  • Manages the overall operation of the undergraduate teaching labs and computer labs in alignment with the objectives of the department and the Faculty of Engineering;
  • Collaborates with faculty, sessional instructors, and lab instructors to ensure that materials and skill development are properly coordinated;
  • Supports students with ordering materials for their Capstone Engineering Design project and provides access to work space and equipment needed for the development of their prototype designs;
  • Resolves differences with respect to course/lab delivery between faculty and instructors or conflicts related to equipment usage, scheduling, and TA staffing during lab times;
  • Advises on the purchase, maintenance and repair of teaching lab equipment;
  • Responsible for the design, purchase and overseeing installation of technology in ECE teaching laboratories;
  • Oversees the procurement of instructional supplies and equipment for undergraduate labs including the preparation of WEEF (Waterloo Engineering Endowment Foundation) funding proposals;
  • Ensures teaching labs meet or exceed technical, professional and safety standards in compliance with licensing authority, legislative requirements, and University policy/procedures;
  • Ensures lab instructor and teaching assistant training and instructional materials remain current as the curriculum evolves. 


Staff Management for Lab Teaching:

  • Reviews teaching lab staff structure, lab instructional needs and succession planning;
  • Manages the recruitment, selection and hiring of Lab Instructors in conjunction with the Senior Associate Chair, group faculty members and Lab Coordinators;
  • Manages professional development and staff training, and works with staff to identify goals;
  • Assigns work activities, projects, monitors work flow and balance, assigns work priorities;
  • Assesses staff and completes annual staff performance reviews;
  • Provides guidance to staff regarding ambiguous, non-routine multi-disciplinary challenges which are typically encountered in the day-to-day operation of the labs.




  • Lab Instructor of two undergraduate ECE lab courses per year;
  • Uses appropriate teaching techniques , assessment tools, and technologies to enhance learning and improve student proficiency;
  • Applies and upholds academic regulations in collaboration with course instructor;
  • Supervises undergraduate students in applying in-class theoretical knowledge in the practical laboratory environment;
  • Incorporates current innovations into the lab curriculum;
  • Ensures common format is maintained for lab manuals and new lab exercises.



  • Provides expertise relating to design of lab courses and advises on technologies to be used with undergraduate teaching;
  • Participates in strategic planning to improve the delivery of undergraduate lab courses and learning experience;
  • Ensures continual improvements to the lab course structure and content, including modification or redesign of lab materials or development of innovative materials for new courses;
  • Ensures personally and through oversight that the enhancement of the student experience of the lab component through the development of multi-media instructional aids;
  • Ensures personally and through oversight that the developed experimental test cases for labs adhere to professional and scientific methodologies in a consistent and complementary fashion to their academic counterparts;
  • Participates as an advisor for senior level student design projects;
  • Provides expert broad-based and multi-disciplinary professional guidance to undergraduate students taking workshop and project courses throughout the entire undergraduate program;
  • Provides interpretations of all external codes, regulations, specifications, as well as internal policies and procedures;
  • Oversees the design of the fabrication of lab apparatuses/equipment and consults on the development of complex laboratory experiments.


Other Duties:

  • Member of the senior staff operations committee providing planning, expertise and issue resolution;
  • Recommends and facilitates the introduction of new technologies and methods to enhance efficiency and streamline procedures;
  • Special project analysis, reporting and other duties as required.


Position Requirements


Bachelor degree in Electrical or Computer Engineering or equivalent combination of education and industrial equivalent experience. Master’s degree preferred.  Must be a licensed Professional Engineer and be fully fluent in the applicable codes/regulations/practices and procedures commensurate with the designation, to support the new Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB) requirements.



Five years of experience managing lab operations.
Minimum three years’ supervisory/managerial experience.  
Must have experience and competency using scientific and lab software applications
Demonstrated leadership, supervisory and management skills, including work planning, assignment, review/evaluation, and the training of staff in work procedures.
Excellent interpersonal, analytical, organizational, and creative problem solving skills.
Must have a strong sense of pedagogy and how it is applied to diverse and changing student groups.
Must be experienced with, or have the demeanour and desire to interact with students in a professional manner to provide technical advice and instructional material.
Aptitude for teaching and an interest in working with undergraduate students.
Must have excellent and demonstrable oral and written communication skills, including strong technical documentation and presentation/facilitation skills.
Ability to interact with people from a wide variety of backgrounds and cultures in a tactful, professional and diplomatic way.
Well-developed relationship building and conflict resolution skills.
Must have knowledge of the core Electrical and Computer Engineering lab course material such as multi-disciplinary system modelling, digital and analogue systems, or digital control systems.
Must be able to work both with significant autonomy and as part of a team.
Must be committed to remaining up-to-date on recent and on-going developments in engineering and pedagogy.




The Lab Director is expected to be a senior subject matter expert in one of ECE lab topics. Broad knowledge of current computer hardware and software applications used in an undergraduate computer or electrical engineering environment.


MS Word Excel PowerPoint Other
Intermediate Intermediate Proficient Databases: Intermediate (SharePoint/FileMakerPro/Oracle or other)
Outlook: Intermediate

Nature and Scope

Interpersonal Skills:

Internally, the incumbent will communicate regularly with the Senior Associate Chair, Associate Chair Undergraduate Studies, Manager Undergraduate Studies, Undergraduate advisors, Administrative Officer, Finance Administrator, faculty and sessional instructors teaching undergraduate classes/labs, lab teaching assistants, and students within ECE. Additionally the incumbent will present information to students with regard to labs and workshop courses. The incumbent must have the proven ability to establish, maintain, and foster positive and harmonious working relationships with colleagues. S/he uses persuasion to elicit the cooperation of others.

S/he liaises with other University departments including Human Resources, Registrar’s Office, Procurement, Cooperative Education, Plant Operations, etc. S/he communicates with Human Resources and other departments to obtain, clarify and discuss information to resolve issues.

Externally, the incumbent will contact vendors/suppliers/manufacturers for purchasing and maintaining equipment. S/he acts as liaison with external contractors with respect to all new construction and renovations of undergraduate labs.

Level of Responsibility:

This position is responsible for the administrative operations of the undergraduate teaching labs and provides guidance to Lab Instructors, Lab Teaching Assistants, etc. The position has specialized work with minimal supervision and has direct reports reporting to it. The incumbent must act independently in determining alternative solutions but if needed consults with various areas to seek resolution and reports any unusual issues to the Senior Associate Chair for action and resolution.  


Decision-Making Authority:

This incumbent works independently with a high level of initiative and flexibility. The job requires regular independent action within defined policy parameters to provide informed advice and instruction to all stakeholders. Given the broad-based and in-depth technical expertise required to resolve ill-defined and highly unstructured problems that surface regularly, the incumbent must have practical and theoretical knowledge acquired through a multi-disciplinary engineering background.  The impact and scope of these duties requires the use of discretion and judgement. The incumbent must be able to make thoughtful, informed and rational decisions to resolve issues or problems that arise.
S/he makes staffing decision typical of those associated with a management position, in conjunction with the Senior Associate Chair and Administrative Officer. S/he is responsible for staff supervision and workload balancing, including assessing work performance and taking corrective action.
The incumbent makes independent decisions typical of those associated with an undergraduate lab instructor e.g. assignments. S/he makes decisions about the best way to document and communicate policies and procedures.

Physical and Sensory Demands:

The incumbent must possess clear communication skills and patience in cross-cultural interactions with an international clientele. This position requires exertion of physical effort resulting in moderate fatigue, strain or risk of injury.


Working Environment:

Minimal exposure to disagreeable conditions typical of a supervisory position.  High volume of work, constant interruptions, and time-sensitive decision-making are routine. In certain cases safety procedures must be strictly enforced. Space and scheduling restrictions may necessitate after hours work.