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Lab Director Research & Special Projects

Date: January, 2016
Reports to (Job Title): Senior Associate Chair
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Department: Electrical & Computer Engineering


Main Campus


USG 13
35 hr/wk

Primary Purpose

The Lab Director Research and Special Projects (Director RSP) is accountable to the Chair and Senior Associate Chair for the management of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering’s (ECE) health & safety program and safe operations for experimental/research and teaching facilities.  This includes identifying areas for improvement, arranging for deficiencies to be corrected, promoting a culture of safety through education and activities. In addition, the Director RSP oversees interdepartmental or external utilization of ECE research lab services and equipment.


The Director RSP also manages the ECE Research Infrastructure Support Group (RISG) and provides oversight of departmental IT infrastructure systems (computers, servers, data and electrical power backup, archives, networking, and disaster recovery). The user base consists of faculty, students, staff, and other departments whose activities include teaching, research, and administration. 


The Director RSP is responsible, under the general direction of the Senior Associate Chair, for the operation and management of the department’s laboratories, new laboratory designs, renovations and maintenance, equipment purchases and space proposals. ECE’s research activities and facilities cover a wide range of fields, from high-voltage engineering and sustainable energy to wireless technology and real-time embedded systems to clean rooms and electromagnetic anechoic chambers, and are located over eight buildings.  Major funding sources for research include federal grants and contract funding through numerous national and international companies.  

Key Accountabilities:


Management of ECE Health & Safety Program: 

  • Responsible for the overall management of the department’s health & safety program;
  • Ensures compliance with all safety-related University and other policies and practices, licensing authority, environmental and legislative requirements;
  • Identifies, monitors, assesses and limits risks through job hazard analysis, inspections, etc.;
  • Acts as the department Health & Safety Coordinator including completion of the Annual Department Health, Safety and Environment Report for review by the Chair;
  • Performs regular workplace inspections to identify environmental health and safety issues, deficiencies and hazards, and ensures that the issue, deficiency or hazard is resolved;
  • Promotes a safe work environment by collaborating with Safety Officers, faculty, other researchers, lab personnel and technical staff, and through informative activities;
  • Ensures the safe handling and operation of all laboratory equipment (as per WHMIS safety procedures) and develops standard operating procedures;
  • Monitors safety training records and ensures appropriate tracking required for lab access; 
  • Maintains ECE Lab Safety Manual and safety and regulatory information, including Material Safety Data Sheets;
  • Liaises with Dean’s Office on evacuation plans, fire safety, warden training, etc.
  • Accompanies Safety Officers, Joint Health and Safety Committee members, and external regulatory agencies during workplace inspections, and ensures any identified deficiencies are corrected by those responsible for the area or the item;
  • Serves as a health & safety resource to faculty, staff and students and resolves safety concerns by taking action or making recommendations to management;
  • Assists in investigating workplace injuries or accidents, reviews all Incident Reports and determines whether remedial action or injury prevention actions are required;
  • Assists in responding to any regulatory actions or investigations;
  • Co-chairs the Department’s health & safety committee and represents ECE on Faculty and University-level committees;
  • Remains current on safety training and technical processes.


Management of Research Lab and Research Support Staff:

  • Manages research infrastructure support staffing, oversees coop student hiring and volunteer placements;
  • Manages staff development and objectives and priorities for research infrastructure technical staff;
  • Assigns projects and monitors work flow of Research Infrastructure Support group;
  • Assesses staff and completes annual staff performance reviews;
  • Liaises between research personnel, technical staff and faculty members e.g. prioritization of work;

Administration of Research Lab Operations:

  • Coordinates and liaises with research personnel and technical staff on laboratory activities and maintenance and repair of research lab equipment;
  • Oversees installation of technology in research labs and ECE controlled classrooms;
  • Develops, reviews and implements all engineering/technical standards, policies and procedures in accordance with professional, department and Faculty of Engineering standards;
  • Promotes security of facilities, and responds to alarm signals and emergencies as needed;
  • Maintains an inventory and tracking system for all laboratory and computer equipment, and arranges for the safe disposal of obsolete equipment;
  • Works closely with the Facilities Coordinator to ensure pertinent documentation (Guest Lab User Agreements, proof of insurance, volunteer agreements, and WSIB) is provided by visiting researchers and volunteers;
  • Liaises with industrial research partners utilizing ECE labs and equipment as required;
  • Coordinates lab repairs and technical services with Plant Operations and IST;
  • Liaises with external contractors with respect to all new laboratory construction and renovations.


Other Duties:

  • Member of the senior staff operations committee providing advice and issue resolution;
  • Participates in short and long term strategic planning including space utilization;
  • Recommends and facilitates the introduction of new technologies and methods to enhance efficiency and streamline procedures;
  • Special project management and other duties as required.

Position Requirements


Bachelors degree or equivalent combination of education and relevant industrial or research experience in Electrical or Computer Engineering. Masters degree preferred.  Workplace hazardous materials information system and safety training e.g. WHMIS, is necessary.  Ongoing professional development is required to maintain competency.   A current First-Aid certificate would be an asset.


Five years of experience managing lab operations.
Minimum three years’ supervisory/managerial experience.




Ability to use general principles to solve specific problems without detailed knowledge of the systems involved.  Broad knowledge of current computer technology and practices.


MS Word Excel PowerPoint Other
Intermediate Intermediate Intermediate

Databases: Intermediate (SharePoint/FileMaker-Pro)
Outlook: Intermediate


Nature and Scope

Interpersonal Skills:

Internally, the incumbent communicates regularly with the Chair, Senior Associate Chair, Administrative Officer, Finance Administrator, Facilities Coordinator, faculty, administrative and research staff, postdoctoral fellows, visiting researchers, etc. S/he provides guidance S/he interacts with students, faculty, research personnel, technical staff, Human Resources, Plant Operations, Safety Office, etc. to obtain, clarify and discuss information to resolve issues and use persuasion to elicit the cooperation of others.

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

The ability to establish, maintain, and foster cooperative and productive working relationships with diverse stakeholders is a key mandate of the role. The Director RSP is expected to promote a co-operative, collegial approach to problem solving.

Level of Responsibility:

This position is responsible for the managerial oversight of professional research personnel in ECE research labs. 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.  S/he provides guidance on laboratory safety compliance and provides interpretations of various external codes, regulations, specifications, as well as internal policies and procedures.

The management function of the Director RSP is challenging and sensitive, involving operational organization and maintenance of research facilities, personnel, and the effective utilization of technical assistance, equipment and space.

Decision-Making Authority:

The incumbent works independently with a high level of initiative and flexibility. The job requires constant autonomous action within defined policy parameters to provide informed advice and instruction to all stakeholders.  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 provides guidance to staff with respect to ambiguous, non-routine multi-disciplinary challenges which are typically encountered in the day-to-day operation of the labs.
The incumbent makes staffing decisions typical of those associated with a management position, in conjunction with Principal Investigators, Senior Associate Chair and Administrator Officer. S/he is responsible for staff supervision and workload balancing, including assessing work performance and taking corrective action.
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 a diverse and international clientele. S/he must listen carefully to client concerns, appraise circumstances and read into and between the lines of emails or correspondence to identify the issue/problem daily. Concentrated sensory and cognitive demands during training, investigations and inspections is required.

Working Environment:

Moderate exposure to disagreeable conditions typical of a management position and may involve adversarial situations when discussing compliance issues. High volume of work, constant interruptions, and time-sensitive decision-making are routine. In certain cases, the Director RSP and research lab staff may handle hazardous materials and enter higher hazard work areas (construction projects; injury, spills and emergency situations). Consequently, safety procedures must be strictly enforced and require the use of various personal protective equipment (PPE). S/he responds to emergency situations where there is a lot of pressure to find a solution quickly. The incumbent works in an environment where there is frequent process/procedural change.