2020 TECI Workshop FAQ

Please click a topic below for FAQs related to that topic and answers to those questions.  For additional questions, you may contact Nicholas McConnell (njmcconn@ucsc.edu).
Workshop Selection

Q: Why is there an application to attend this workshop?

A: The workshop is limited in size, due to funding as well as a format that emphasizes team activities and small discussions. In 2020 we will include ~50 participants from across the TMT partnership. Each TMT partner has established priorities for participation in the workshop, and the application form serves to meet the priorities of each partner.


Q: How many participants from each country will be accepted to the workshop?

A: We plan to accept approximately 5-10 participants from each TMT partner (Canada, China, Japan, India, Caltech, and University of California).


Q: What criteria are being used to select workshop participants?

A: The workshop selection criteria include several factors, which may be weighted differently for each TMT partner depending on that partner’s priorities. Factors include:

  • applicants during the original application period in summer 2019, vs. new applicants (see next question below)
  • current involvement with TMT
  • interest in future involvement with TMT
  • interest in developing international collaboration skills and networking internationally
  • ability to support own travel costs
  • approval from supervisor/advisor to attend the workshop
  • interest and support to continue with the full TECI program after the workshop

TECI seeks to include the full diversity of each partner, including gender and other demographic factors. Individuals from all genders (e.g., women, men) and minority groups are encouraged to apply.


Q: I already applied to the 2020 TECI Workshop in the summer of 2019.  Do I need to apply again?

A:  In summer 2019 we received many applications to the TECI Workshop originally planned for January 2020 in Hilo, Hawaii, that has since been rescheduled for May 26 – June 1, 2020 and relocated to Victoria, Canada.  People who applied to the workshop during summer 2019 have been invited to reactivate their application, with a priority deadline of November 21, 2019.  We are now reopening the full workshop application to account for attrition from the original applicant pool.  The priority deadline for new applicants is January 3, 2020.

Individuals who submitted an application in summer 2019 will be prioritized over any new applicants from the same institution or TMT partner.  Similar to previous TECI Workshops, selection decisions will be made independently for each TMT partner. We expect the number of workshop spots available for new applicants to vary for each partner, depending on the number of original applicants and the attrition rate as a result of rescheduling the workshop.


Workshop Funding

Q: What are the costs of attending the workshop?

A: TECI is funded by Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) International Observatory, which significantly reduces costs of attending the workshop. In addition, TECI works with TMT partners to identify funding sources that will cover travel expenses. Below is an itemized list of approximate costs, and whether they are covered by TECI or must be covered by workshop participants. Amounts are in U.S. dollars (USD) and Canadian dollars (CAD).

INSTRUCTIONAL FEE: The instructional fee to participate in the TECI workshop is USD $3,000. All participants accepted to TECI are provided fee waivers (do not pay the fee) because this fee is paid by the TMT Project Office in Pasadena, CA using TIO cash funds. The TECI instructional fee includes all costs of developing and managing TECI, and onsite workshop costs including lunches during workshop, poster reception, final dinner, and field trips.

On TECI Workshop application:

  • NO AWARD: instructional fee is covered by TECI
  • STANDARD AWARD: instructional fee is covered by TECI
  • MAXIMUM AWARD: instructional fee is covered by TECI

TRAVEL: TECI is able to offer travel awards for a limited number of participants. The application form includes a field for participants to request a travel award for some or all of these items. In some cases we may prioritize applicants who can cover these costs on their own. Funds for airfare are greatly limited and applicants able to support their own airfare costs will be given a higher priority if necessary.  Victoria International Airport (YYJ) is the closest airport to the workshop hotel.  Some itineraries to YYJ have a connecting flight in Vancouver (YVR).

Air travel: each applicant should estimate the cost of air travel from their home airport to Victoria International Airport YYJ.

On TECI Workshop application:

  • NO AWARD: air travel is covered by participant
  • STANDARD AWARD: air travel is covered by participant
  • MAXIMUM AWARD: air travel is covered by TECI

Lodging in Victoria in the Inn at Laurel PointCAD $980 / USD $742 (8 nights double occupancy, arriving May 25 and checking out June 2).  An additional night for arrival on May 24 is available to accommodate long travel times and adequate rest time prior to workshop for CAD $122 / USD $92

On TECI Workshop application:

  • NO AWARD: lodging is covered by participant
  • STANDARD AWARD: lodging is covered by TECI
  • MAXIMUM AWARD: lodging is covered by TECI

MEALS AND INCIDENTALS: TECI will not support the following costs, all participants must cover these on their own. The total estimated cost of meals and incidentals listed below is CAD $530 / USD $400 **.

  • Ground transportation to/from airport of origination (in home city)
  • Round-trip ground transportation between Victoria International Airport and the Inn at Laurel Point, which participants are expected to book individually
  • Meals and incidentals outside of workshop lunches.  The total estimate above includes all meals from May 24 through June 2, except lunches supplied by TECI May 26-29 and May 31-June 1.
  • Passport and visa fees: each applicant should determine the fees of any passport or visa they require to enter Canada.  

On TECI Workshop application:

  • NO AWARD: meals and incidentals are covered by participant
  • STANDARD AWARD: meals and incidentals are covered by participant
  • MAXIMUM AWARD: meals and incidentals are covered by participant

** Notes on our estimate above for local costs: Hotel rooms will have mini-refrigerators and a microwave oven is available in the hotel snack shop. We are hoping that participants can keep costs for meals not provided by the conference reasonably low, and far below the US Federal maximum per diem rate of US$125/day for meals and incidentals. We have made our best estimate of the cost of out of conference meals based on the availability of mini-refrigerators in hotel rooms, and that we will provide healthy snacks throughout the workshop, along with a hearty lunch. The total cost for meals not provided by the conference can vary widely depending upon the meals chosen by participants, so please keep in mind that we present our best guess.

USD and CAD amounts above are based on a conversion of $1 USD = $1.32 CAD, from October 2019.  



Q: How should I secure funding for costs that are not automatically covered by TECI?

A: The workshop application includes a question about workshop funding. Applicants are asked to choose one of the following options:

  • Standard Travel Award: TECI covers the instructional fee and lodging at the Inn at Laurel Point.  Participant covers air travel to Victoria YYJ, ground transportation, and meals and incidentals not arranged as part of the workshop.

  • Maximum Travel Award:  TECI covers the instructional fee, lodging at the Inn at Laurel Point, and air travel to Victoria YYJ.  Participant covers ground transportation, meals and incidentals not arranged as part of the workshop.

  • No travel award: TECI covers the instructional fee.  Participant is able to cover the costs of lodging, airfare, ground transportation, and meals and incidentals not arranged as part of the workshop.

We are able to offer Standard Travel Awards to some participants, and a very limited number of Maximum Travel Awards. In some cases we may prioritize applicants based on the level of support they require from TECI.

Applicants should consider what funding for participation may be available from their supervisor/advisor, home institution, or TMT partner. The TECI travel award page includes points of contact for individuals applying through different TMT partners.

Application Materials and Supervisor/Advisor Support

Q: Are other materials required in addition to the application form?

A: Your completed application form is the only thing we require at the time of application. For participants who are accepted, we will request additional information to help arrange travel, workshop activities, and other logistics.

Q: Why do I need to provide my supervisor’s/advisor’s contact information on the application form?

A: We want to ensure that everyone we accept to the workshop will be able to attend, with permission from their supervisor or graduate advisor. We will contact your supervisor/advisor to confirm that they approve of your participation. We recommend that you discuss participation in the workshop with your advisor prior to applying. If your advisor has questions about TECI, they may contact TECI staff, or people from the TMT partnership serving as points of contact (see TECI travel award page).

Q: Do I need a letter of recommendation?

A: We are not asking for letters of recommendation or reference. We will contact your supervisor/advisor only to ask if they approve of you attending the workshop. After the TECI Workshop, some participants will propose to continue working on a TMT-related project. At that time, we will communicate further with supervisors and advisors to help balance the project work with the participants’ other responsibilities at their home institutions.

Q: Should I submit my CV or resume?

A: We will not consider any applicant’s CV, resume, or list of publications.

Passport & Canadian Visa

Q: Do I need a passport to participate in the workshop?

A: You need a valid passport (recommended expiration date valid >6 months from workshop) if you are coming from a country other than Canada.

Q: Do I need a Canadian visa to participate in the workshop?

A: Please see the Government of Canada Immigration and Citizenship Website for the most comprehensive and up-to-date information, including an easy-to-use portal to determine what kind of visa/travel permissions you need (you are attending a conference), and how to apply. Please do this as soon as you have been accepted and have confirmed participation in the workshop as it can take up to 3 months. If you are a citizen of the U.S., you should not need a visa to enter Canada for this workshop.

Q: The visa application asks for a letter of invitation and point of contact in Canada, who should I list?

A: Please use the following contact information:  
Diana Bisel
Thirty Meter Telescope
111 Nowelo Street
Hilo, Hawaii 96720
Phone: 808 319-2220
Fax: 808 319-2223
Email: dbisel@tmt.org

Q: The visa application asks if I am traveling alone or with a group, what should I say?

A: You may put down that you are traveling with a group, and you can list the name of the group as “TMT International Observatory Workshop.”

Q: Will TMT be able to cover the Canadian visa fee?

A: Unfortunately, we are unable to cover the Canadian visa fee, but we do not want this to prevent you from participating.  Please contact us if this is a problem.

Workshop Arrival and Departure

Q: How do I get to the workshop in Victoria?

A: Except for local residents of Victoria, participants will all gather at the Inn at Laurel Point where they will stay during the workshop. 

Participants are responsible for arranging their own transportation from YYJ airport to the Inn at Laurel Point.  A shuttle option is here.

We will send details on where to gather for transportation to workshop sessions at Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics (see next question).


Q: Where will the workshop be held?

A: All but one day of the workshop will be held at the National Research Council of Canada – Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics (HAA).  Tuesday, May 26 through Friday, May 29, will be held at HAA.  Saturday, May 30 is a free day for participants. Sunday, May 31 will be held at the Inn at Laurel Point, and Monday, June 1 will be the final day of the workshop and will be held at HAA again.  TECI will provide transportation between the Inn at Laurel Point and HAA on workshop days.  There will be a single pickup and drop-off time.

Q: When should I plan to arrive and depart so that I am present for the entire workshop?

A: Participants should plan to arrive by 5:00 PM (17:00) on May 25. We strongly encourage participants with evening flight arrivals to arrive the evening of Sunday, May 24 instead of Monday, May 25. Days will be full of activities and participants are expected to attend the entire workshop or else forfeit their participation.

The workshop will conclude with a banquet dinner the evening of Monday, June 1, and you should plan to depart the morning of Tuesday, June 2.

Lodging details

Q: Where will participants stay during the workshop?

A: Except for local residents of Victoria, participants will stay at the Inn at Laurel Point in Victoria.  Each hotel room will be shared by two participants of the same gender identity.  Hotel expenses for some participants will be covered in advance by TECI – please see the details of your acceptance letter.

Q: If I live in Victoria should I stay at the hotel or commute from home?

A: If you live in Victoria, you have the option to stay with other participants at the hotel or to commute from home. Please let us know which you plan to do. If you choose to commute from home you need to arrive at the workshop location for that day (note that for most days we are at Herzberg Astronomy & Astrophysics, but there is a workshop day held at the hotel) or early enough to get organized transportation with other participants from the hotel to the workshop location.

Q: Can I stay at a different location from the hotel?

A: TECI has a contract with the Inn at Laurel Point that allows us to reserve hotel rooms at a rate that enables us to support a large number of workshop participants.  We are required to fill a certain number of rooms at the Inn at Laurel Point, and therefore we cannot reimburse participants for lodging expenses from other facilities.

Workshop Organization & Goals

Q: How does the TECI Workshop relate to the TECI Program?

A: The TECI Workshop is one component of the full TECI Program. Workshop participants may propose to continue with the full Program by collaborating remotely and/or in person on an international TMT-related project. The workshop will include opportunities for preliminary work on projects that may be suitable to continue afterwards, opportunities to establish teams for ongoing project work, and guidelines for proposing a project to continue as part of the TECI Program.

Q: Why is ISEE running the workshop?

A: The Institute for Scientist & Engineer Educators (ISEE) has been training graduate students and postdocs, and has partnered with telescopes for more than 15 years. ISEE is located at University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC), which is the headquarters of UC Observatories and the center for University of California participation in TMT. ISEE is developing the TMT Early-Career Initiative, which will be designed to engage the full international partnership in TMT science and technology development.