Frequently Asked Questions

 

Do you have questions about the NTCO program?  Browse the frequently asked questions below, or contact the Program Coordinator.

 

Participating in NTCO

I am an undergraduate / Masters / PhD student. Can I participate in NTCO?

Yes! NTCO is open to undergraduate, Masters and PhD students studying at Canadian universities.

I am an international student. Can I participate in NTCO?

Yes! NTCO is open to both Canadian and international students.

My university isn’t listed on your webpage. Can I participate in NTCO?

Yes! NTCO is open to students from all Canadian universities

I’m not in an astronomy program. Can I participate in NTCO?

Probably! There’s no requirement for you to be an astronomy program, but your research interests need to involve astronomical instrumentation and/or software. NTCO participants have included students from astronomy, physics, engineering and computer science programs.

I’ve already accepted an offer to grad school. Can I still participate in NTCO?

Yes! NTCO isn’t a grad school – rather, it’s like an “add-on” to your program. On top of your regular degree, it gives you real-life experience in industry, professional skills training, and connections to people in industry and researchers at universities and government labs. To participate in NTCO, you will need to complete the NTCO program requirements in addition to your regular program requirements. To help you do this, we offer you funding and other support.

I’m in the first/second/third/etc year of my program. Can I participate in NTCO?

Probably! You can enter the NTCO program at any point in your degree, as long as there is enough time left in your program to complete the NTCO program requirements.

 

Program Requirements and Student Support

What are the NTCO program requirements for undergraduate students?

If you are an undergraduate student, you are required to:

  • Complete an internship equivalent to 2 months or more of full-time work with one of our industrial partners
  • Participate in a relevant research or design project at your home institution, a government research facility (HAA-Herzberg, DRAO, etc.), or institution (eg, TRIUMF)

What are the NTCO program requirements for graduate students?

If you are a graduate student, you are required to:

  • Complete an internship equivalent to at least 4 months (for Masters students) or 6 months (for PhD students) of full-time work with one of our industrial partners over your time in the program
  • Participate in all AGMs during your time in the program
  • Complete at least one professional skills workshop each year during your time in the program (workshops are usually offered in conjunction with the AGM)
  • Attend one instrumentation summer school during your time in the program. We strongly recommend the Dunlap Institute Summer School; if you have already attended this school or have another reason for wanting to attend a different school, substitutions may be possible with the approval of our Admissions Committee

How do I find an internship?

Sometimes our industrial partners will create postings for internship positions. The Program Coordinator will forward these to you as they come up. You’re also encouraged to work with your academic and/or NTCO supervisors to reach out directly to our industrial partners to arrange internships. The Program Coordinator can help put you in touch with our contacts at these companies if necessary.

Can I do my internship with a company that’s not one of your industrial partners?

Probably, so long as the company is a Canadian based business that can offer an internship related to astronomical instrumentation. We’ll need to work with the company to get them approved by NSERC as a new industrial partner, but the process is fairly simple. Please contact the Program Coordinator if you have a new company in mind.

I have to do a co-op placement / work experience / internship as part of my academic program. Can it count towards my NTCO internship requirement?

Probably!  The work you're doing needs to be somehow related to astronomical instrumentation, and the company you're working for needs to either be one of our industrial partners, or be willing to become one.

Do I get paid for my internship?

You’ll continue to receive your regular NTCO stipend throughout your internship. The company may also offer top-up funding, but this isn’t required of them.

I'm an undergrad who's participating in a design team that's related to astronomical instrumentation. Can that count as my NTCO research or design team requirement?

Definitely!  The faculty supervisor of the team should sign your NTCO application form where it asks for your academic research supervisor's signature.

My capstone design project is related to astronomical instrumentation. Can that count as my NTCO research or design team requirement?

For sure!  The instructor of the course should sign your NTCO application form where it asks for your academic research supervisor's signature.

What support do you offer to undergraduate NTCO students?

If you are an undergraduate student, we offer:

  • A stipend of $8000
  • Free registration to the Dunlap Institute Summer School
  • Opportunities to network with academic and industrial members and potential employers from across Canada, and to participate in professional skills workshops to develop job readiness at the NTCO Annual General Meeting
  • Access to exclusive internship opportunities with our industrial partners

What support do you offer to graduate NTCO students?

If you are a graduate student, we offer:

  • Funding towards your studies: up to $24,000 over two years for Masters students, and up to $30,000 over three years for PhD students
  • An annual travel budget of $1250 to participate in program-related activities
  • Opportunities to network with academic and industrial members and potential employers from across Canada at the NTCO Annual General Meeting
  • Professional skills workshops to develop job readiness
  • Access to exclusive internship opportunities with our industrial partners

 

Admissions Requirements and Application Process

What are the admission requirements for the NTCO program?

Students will be selected based on their academic skills and their interests in astronomical instrumentation.

If you are an undergraduate student, you must also have a relevant research project planned or underway at your home institution, a government research lab (HAA-Herzberg, DRAO, etc.), or institution (eg, TRIUMF). Your supervisor for this project must sign your application form to indicate their support of your participation in NTCO

If you are a graduate student, you must also have the support of your academic supervisor, and have member of our project team agree to act as your NTCO supervisor. Both of these supervisors must sign your application form.

What is a NTCO supervisor?

A NTCO supervisor is someone from our project team who will help you fulfill the NTCO program requirements. If you are studying at one of our partner institutions, your NTCO supervisor might also be your academic supervisor, but this isn’t necessary.

My academic supervisor isn’t part of your project team. How do I get a NTCO supervisor?

If you are a graduate student, you and your academic supervisor should reach out to one of the project team members and ask if they will serve as your NTCO supervisor. There’s no requirement that the NTCO supervisor be involved in your academic / research work, but you might want to choose someone with research interests similar to your own.

If you are an undergraduate student, you can apply without listing a NTCO supervisor and the Admissions Committee will help you find one.

How do I apply to the NTCO program?

Complete the appropriate application form (for undergraduate or graduate students), make sure your supervisors have signed it, and submit it and a copy of your CV to the Program Coordinator.

What is the deadline to apply to the NTCO program?

If you are an undergraduate student, apply any time. We accept students who meet our admissions requirements until we’ve reached our capacity for the fiscal year.

If you are a graduate student, the deadline to apply is usually in early February. Check the Admissions page or email the Program Coordinator for more information.

I won’t know which grad school I’ll be attending / which supervisor I’ll be working with by the deadline. Can I still apply to NTCO?

Yes! Please make a note about where you’ve applied, who you hope to work with, and when you expect to hear back on your application form.

When will I hear back about whether or not I’ve been accepted?

Decisions are usually made within a few weeks.

After I got accepted to NTCO, I decided to attend a different university / work with a different supervisor. Can I still participate in the program?

Hopefully yes! You can still participate in the program as long as your research interests still involve astronomical instrumentation and your new academic supervisor approves. You’ll also need to make sure your NTCO supervisor is still willing to work with you at the new university; if they’re not, you’ll need to find a new NTCO supervisor. Please let the Program Coordinator know if you are changing universities or supervisors.

 

NTCO Stipends

When will I start receiving my stipend?

If you are an undergraduate student, your stipend usually starts when your internship does.

If you are a graduate student, it’s up to your thesis and NTCO supervisors. Some students begin receiving their stipends immediately. However, if for some reason you were unable to complete your internship or the other program requirements, your supervisors may be required to repay the stipend money. For this reason, some supervisors decide to start the stipends only after the internship is arranged.

How will I receive my stipend?

If you are studying at one of the partner institutions listed on our website, we will transfer money to the Project Team member at your institution, and they will arrange for the funds to be paid out to you in the same way you would receive a scholarship or your regular graduate support.

Otherwise, someone at your home institution (usually your academic supervisor) will need to pay your NTCO stipends up front, and then invoice UVic for the amount. This is the only way NSERC will allow us to pay students who aren’t studying at our partner institutions.

How much will my stipend be?

If you are an undergraduate student, your stipend will be $8000.

If you are a graduate student, the maximum stipend you can receive is $12,000/year for Masters students, or $10,000/year for PhD students. If you have significant other sources of funding, such as an NSERC CGSD, these amounts may be reduced in order to keep overall funding levels in line with institutional standards. The exact amount of your NTCO stipend will be decided by your academic supervisor, your NTCO supervisor, and the NTCO Director.

 

 

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