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Department: Science Technical Services Effective Date: April, 2011
Grade: USG 7 Reports to: Electronics Group Supervisor

General Accountability

Reporting to the Electronics Group Supervisor, this position is accountable for providing technical support to research groups and teaching activities in the Faculty of Science departments: Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Earth Sciences and Optometry. The support includes: servicing, various scientific instruments with the main focus on equipment comprising vacuum technology components.

Nature and Scope

Science Electronics Group is part of the Science Technical Services Department (STS). Other units are: Machine Shop, Stores and Student Machine Shop. Presently the Electronics Group consists of four staff members including the supervisor. Occasionally, when workload requires, extra personnel may be hired on temporary or part-time basis.

All four staff members operate in a similar fashion, the main difference being the years of experience, educational background and particular area of strength. Examples of operations performed are: design and construction of specialized instrumentation, modification and repairs of scientific equipment, installation of the new equipment including installation of the appropriate electrical power and cooling system (plumbing for water or air flow), repair of vacuum pump and other vacuum instrumentation. Often the value of research equipment serviced by STS approaches 1mln dollars. Important decisions need to be made almost on an every day basis when repairing such equipment in terms of safety of the personnel (exposure to high voltage, radiation, chemicals, germs, etc) or possible serious and expensive damage to the equipment, if mistakes were made. Examples of the equipment are: Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Instruments, Laser Systems, X-ray Instruments, Electron Microscopes, Environmental Chambers, Mass Spectrometers, Gas Chromatographs, low temperature physics and superconductivity instruments, etc.

Customers: faculty, staff and grad students from the Faculty of Science, but also increasingly from other faculties and departments of UW and occasionally from outside the Campus, submit their work requests to the appropriate group. The supervisor or a staff member on duty receiving the request can usually assess feasibility of the project or repair. The size of the projects varies from simple servicing of an instrument taking only minutes to finish, to construction of highly complex instrument taking hundreds of hours to complete.

Upon receiving the work order from the supervisor or sometimes directly from the customer, the staff member works on technical details and methods of realization of the project. If needed, he/she arranges to meet the customer to obtain more information and proposes his solution. Based on its acceptance, he will make various designs, repair and fabrication decisions affecting performance, cost, and timing.  Proper scheduling and synchronization are very important as it may affect other people hired by the researcher or availability of funds in a given time and for a given project. In more complex cases, he/she will discuss the project with the supervisor, consult other staff members or use various resources such as: scientific publications, Internet or professional journals.  Some design concepts and methods may need to be tried on an experimental basis. Next the list of parts and materials for the job may be passed to the supervisor, who in turn will verify it, find the distributor or suggest one. The parts are then ready to be ordered through regular departmental procedure.

Another important activity of the STS department is to provide technical support to teaching activities in all departments of the Faculty of Science. Demo equipment may need to be designed, built, repaired, modified, tested, calibrated or assembled on a very short time notice.

All activities of the STS: financial transactions, work orders, purchase orders, time keeping, etc, are traced using software system, specific to the STS Dept. The end of month and the financial end of year reports are sent to UW Finance Department Interface.

End results are the financial statements showing expenses and revenues. 

Statistical Data

 Sectors served by STS:

Specific Accountabilities

To accomplished the objectives of this position the incumbent will be required to:

  1. interact with faculty, students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds and provide technical consultation to them on vacuum and electro-mechanical problems,
  2. troubleshoot, modify or repair a  variety of research and teaching instrumentation.  Main focus of this position will be on vacuum pumps (mechanical/rotary, diffusion and turbo), vacuum gauges, valves and fittings, vacuum leak testing, but will also cover amongst other: centrifuges, environmental/anaerobic chambers/glove boxes,  ovens, shakers, stirrers, water baths, electromechanical components (motors, solenoid valves) and thermal (heaters, sensors), temperature control devices and other common equipment found in teaching and research labs,
  3. demonstrate mechanical dexterity to build enclosures and packaging,  proficiency in using variety of small tools, ability to do some machining, soldering and other common operation in a similar shop environment,
  4. provide help with computer data entry for the departmental work order and time keeping financial interface and similar clerical tasks,
  5. provide occasional support for store customers in the STS store.       

The above objectives have to be accomplished often with a minimal amount of supervision and limited initial information. The work has to be completed in a reasonable time and costly manner, be of appropriate quality and in accordance to the University or other applicable safety standards.


Working Conditions