Skip to the content of the web site.

Precision/ CNC Machinist/ Lead Hand

Department: Science Technical Services Effective Date:

May 2007

Grade: USG 9 Reports to: Machine Shops Supervisor

General Accountability

The position reports to the Machine Shops Supervisor.


The incumbent, a highly skilled machinist, will be required to replace the Supervisor in all his routine daily duties during his absence, and as a machinist work on highly complex projects submitted by researchers or projects to support teaching activities in the departments of: Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Optometry, and Earth Sciences, and make decisions on how a project will be executed.

Nature and Scope

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


Student shop supervisor, the fifth machinist, operates in a different location, but also reports to the Machine Shop supervisor. His main duty is to supervise and train Students, Faculty and Staff working on their projects, advise them and help with various operations when they are unable to perform them. His other important duty is to keep shop equipment well maintained and safe.


The supervisor of the Machine Shop reports to STS Manager in all financial and administrative matters.


All machinists and the supervisor, who also doubles as a machinist whenever possible, operate in a similar fashion, the main difference being the years of experience and particular area of strength. Examples of operations performed are: machining (lathe, mill and CNC mill) and welding of various materials, cutting, soldering, sheet metal working, drilling, vacuum testing, anodizing, mechanical repairs to various equipment and instruments. Quite often the value of research equipment, which need STS department intervention, exceeds 1mln dollars. Important decisions need to be made almost on every day basis when repairing such equipment in terms of safety of the personnel or possible serious and expensive damage to the equipment if mistakes were made. Examples: Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Instruments, Laser Systems, X-ray Instruments, Electron Microscopes, Environmental Chambers, Mass Spectrometers, Gaz Chromatographs, low temperature physics and superconductivity instruments, etc.

Thousands of dollars are saved by servicing these instruments in-house instead of sending them out for repair, often outside Canada, or bringing manufacturer service personnel.


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 the work requests to the Machine Shop supervisor, or in his absence to his assistant for less critical projects. The supervisor, assesses feasibility of the submitted projects, distributes the jobs to the machinists, assigns priority and passes general information about the project to the machinist. The size of the projects varies from simple modifications to an existing instrument taking only minutes to finish to construction of highly complex equipment valued at $60,000 or more and taking up to a year to complete.


After receiving the work order, the machinist works on technical details and methods of executing the project, arranges to meet the customer to obtain more information, proposes his solution and suggests changes if he deems them necessary. He will have to make various decisions affecting the performance, cost, and timing of the fabrication.  Often 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. He may seek advice of the other staff, or use various resources such as: scientific publications, professional journals, etc. A search for a suitable design may be necessary and some design concepts and methods may need to be tried on an experimental basis before finalizing the design. Once the solution is accepted, a list of parts and materials for the job may be passed to the supervisor, who in turn will verify it, find the distributor, obtain the quotes and submit this information to the administrative assistant of the department for ordering. The final product may be the essential piece of instrumentation the researcher is putting together.


Another important activity of the STS department is to provide technical support to teaching activities in all departments of the Faculty of Science. This includes support to professors teaching various courses when they need demonstration equipment, and to demonstrators teaching undergrad labs. Such 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 two part software system: one custom designed internally and one commercial. The end of month and the end of year reports are sent to Financial Services department.

End results are the financial statements showing expenses and revenues.

Statistical Data

Specific Accountabilities

  1. Acting as a Supervisor, he must be able to:

a)     interact with faculty, students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds and provide technical consultation to them,


2.     As a Precision/CNC Machinist and Tool and Die Maker he must be able to:


Working Conditions