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:

  • 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.

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. 

Workshop costs are itemized on the TECI travel award page, which also contains information for applicants to look up an appropriate contact for their TMT partner. TECI works hard to find travel funding for as many participants as possible.

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 lodging and ground transportation within the Hilo area

  • Maximum Travel Award: TECI covers lodging, ground transportation within the Hilo area, and airfare or ground transportation from outside the Hilo area

  • No travel award: participant is able to cover the costs of lodging, ground transportation, and airfare

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 & U.S. 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 the United States of America.

Q: Do I need a U.S. Visa to participate in the workshop?

A: Please see the U.S. Department of State website for the most comprehensive and up-to-date information.  If you are a citizen of Canada or Japan, you should not need a Visa to enter the U.S. for this workshop.  Citizens of China and India will need to apply for a U.S. Visa.  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.

Q: If applying for a U.S. Visa, what type should I get?

A: It is recommended to apply for a B1/B2 (Business/Tourism) combined or B1 (Business) visa (usually valid for up to 10 years), which will help facilitate future visits to the U.S. as well. This visa is for conferences, workshops, etc.

Q: The Visa application asks for a point of contact in the U.S., 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 U.S. Visa fee?

A: Unfortunately, we are unable to cover the U.S. 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 Hilo?


Q: Where will the workshop be held?


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

A: Plan your travel to be ready to start the workshop promptly at 8:00 a.m. on Sunday, January 12.  We strongly encourage participants traveling long distances to arrive the morning of Saturday, January 11.  Days will be full of activities and participants are expected to attend the entire workshop or else forfeit their participation.

The workshop will conclude the evening of Saturday, January 18, and you should plan to depart the morning of Sunday, January 19.

Lodging details

Q: Where will participants stay during the workshop?

A: (Hotel TBD).  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 (TBD) should I stay at the hotel or commute from home?


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

A: TECI has a contract with (hotel TBD) 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 (hotel TBD), 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.