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Program Guide

For a printable copy of the Program Guide click here. 

Revision 4 – July 2013


The NSERC –CREATE Training Program in Integrated Sensor Systems (ISS) is a program designed to combine research, hands on training, seminars and professional development in the area of Integrated Sensor System related research. It also aims to promote research collaboration and professional development through exchanges and internships for graduate students, networking opportunities and through a strong interdisciplinary and/or inter-laboratory approach.

The Integrated Sensor Systems Training Program focuses on the design, fabrication or testing of sensor devices, the development of materials that are required for sensors, the processing of signals obtained from sensors, sensor integration and packaging. Special emphasis is placed on the research involving minimization, packaging and the use of micro and nano technologies for sensing.

Students can participate in the ISS program in several different ways including via funded research projects, as participants receiving travel funding or simply as participants in workshops, courses and events.

All stipend award funding provided by the ISS program requires an element of co-funding by supervisors, and all funded students are required to participate in specified ISS courses, events and in the ISS Summer School. See the ‘Terms of Acceptance and Program Funding’ and the Program Information section on the ISS website for additional details.


Registered or accepted students at any of the participating universities who meet the criteria below are eligible to apply to participate and to obtain funding.

  • Applicants must have secured the agreement of research advisor who will supervise their research project and provide any necessary co-funding as per the Terms of Acceptance and Funding.
  • Research Projects must fall within the Scope of the ISS Program.

Undergraduate Students:

Undergraduate students applying for ISS Undergraduate Training Program should have completed a minimum of 1 year of undergraduate study (2 semesters).

Students must be registered as full time students at one of the participating schools at the time of application AND in either the semester before or the semester of the Research Project.

Each student may participate in the ISS Undergraduate Training Program only once.

Students may apply for projects at any of the participating schools.

Undergraduates who do not receive an ISS URA can still participate in the ISS Undergraduate Training Program. These students should have funding from another source (research advisor grant, NSERC scholarship, etc.) and have been accepted for a project in the ISS Program.

ISS Undergraduate Research Awards (URA)

The ISS Program can provide funding for a small number of Summer Research Projects each year. These can be found on the ISS Website during the applications period. Students should contact the project supervisors directly for more information.Funding is available to undergraduate students who do not have a graduate degree and who have received fewer than 3 NSERC Awards at the undergraduate level.

Undergraduates may also only receive one ISS URA or other NSERC or federal agency summer research awards per fiscal year (April-April).

Please see the NSERC-CREATE ISS Undergraduate Research Award Terms and Conditions document for more information on undergraduate funding.

Unfunded Participants

Undergraduate students who are interested in participating in the ISS Training Program but who already have funding from another source for a research project may apply as well. These students should collaborate with their project supervisor to complete the project application by the supervisor deadline.

Graduate Students:

Masters students should have completed no more than one (1) semester and have a minimum of 18 months left of their studies at the time of application.

PhD students should have completed no more than two (2) years of their degree and have a minimum of 2 years (including summers) at the time of application.

Students may participate in either the Masters or PhD program but not both.

Research projects undertaken by Masters and PhD students are expected to involve research undertaken in two (2) or more different research laboratories. Co-supervision is not required but the student must have an official supervisor from at least one institution which is a member of the ISS CREATE Program (Poly, McGill, UdeS, INRS).

Travel Awards are available only to graduate students accepted and participating in the ISS program, see Travel Funding (below) for more details.

Partial stipends are available to graduate students on a competitive basis. All ISS Awards have an element of supervisor co-funding.

  • Students who are receiving MITACS stipends may still apply for Travel Awards and participation in the ISS Training Program, but cannot concurrently receive ISS student stipends.
  • Students with other scholarships may apply for “top-ups” according to the ISS External Awards Policy.

For more information on ISS Awards please see Terms of Acceptance and Funding (below) and the NSERC-CREATE ISS Award Terms and Conditions document.

Application Forms

All forms should be filled out typed and submitted electronically. Password protected Adobe PDF signatures are acceptable. Otherwise, original signature pages should be submitted to the ISS Program office within 1 week following the application deadline or the application will be considered to have been withdrawn.

Graduate Applications: At least one of the two letters of reference should be from someone who will not be supervising the student for the proposed project. 

Any questions should be directed to the ISS Program Administrator at administrator-miam [dot] engineering [at] mcgill [dot] ca

Application Process

All applications should be submitted before midnight (12am) Eastern Standard Time on the evening of the application deadline, posted on the ISS Program website. 

The ISS Selection Committee will review all applications and inform candidates of the status of their application by the date specified on the ISS Program website.

Candidates will be evaluated based on the criteria listed in the Evaluation Guide published on the ISS website.

Research Funding Awards (stipends) and Travel Awards are awarded separately.

Preference will be given to students enrolled in natural science and engineering fields.

Terms of Acceptance and Program Funding

Participating students MUST BE REGISTERED and progressing satisfactorily in a qualified program at an eligible university.

  • Please notify the ISS Program Administration of any changes in your registration status, e.g., if you are changing your status from full-time to part-time.

All students accepted into the ISS program and progressing satisfactorily as per the Terms of Acceptance and Program Funding section of the Program Guide will automatically receive reimbursement and/or funding towards required hands-on workshops, seminars and professional workshops as well as travel funding as described below in the Travel Awards section of this guide. All other fees and costs associated with participation in the ISS program are the responsibility of the student.

All trainees are expected to check their official school email accounts on a regular basis and to maintain their MyCourses access for notices and other communications from the ISS program.

All students are expected to submit the Participation and Program “Exit Survey” upon completion of the ISS Program.

NSERC requires the ISS program to report the amount and sources of funding for all ISS trainees. We therefore request that you complete this information in the each Annual Report and Exit Surveys.

ISS Graduate Students:

Masters and PhD students are expected to submit a Program Plan at the end of the first semester. This should describe which elective courses, seminars and workshops they intend to attend each semester during the program, and when they anticipate taking exchanges and/or internships. This plan can be revised to meet changing circumstances with the approval of the ISS Management Committee.

NOTE: Due to the nature of the Exchange and Internship Program, flexibility in the timing and destinations of said events is required.

All graduate students must submit an annual Progress and Participation Report by the date indicated on the ISS website for the renewal of funding, expense reimbursements and for continued participation in ISS Program events. Annual renewal of funding and continued participation in the ISS program is contingent on the student’s participation in ISS Program Summer School, required courses and designated events, and on the maintenance of good standing in the student’s registered program.
The NSERC-CREATE Training Program in Integrated Sensor Systems


A limited number of stipends are available to graduate and undergraduate applicants each year.  All requests for stipends are processed during the Spring application call in the year prior to the anticipated start date.

All students who receive ISS Masters Scholarship Awards or ISS Fellowship Awards are expected to complete at least one (1) inter-laboratory exchange or internship. 

Exchanges and internships are not required for unfunded participants in the ISS Masters and PhD programs, but are strongly recommended for development of broader research experience and to reinforce the professional skills training offered in ISS with real world industry experience. 

Second-year ISS trainees without an ISS Award may apply for a stipend for up to one year. Third year ISS PhD students may apply for a one year stipend or extension.  This process will be competitive and evaluate progress in the ISS program and in their degree.

Students with external funding from a non-federal source may apply for a “top-up” stipend consistent with the ISS External Award Guide.

Applicants who obtain an award from an external source must notify the Program Administration immediately, preferably by telephone (514-398-8717) or e-mail (administrator-miam [at] mcgill [dot] ca).

  • Requests to change the program of study, supervisor, research project or the degree will be evaluated by the Program Administration. Any request for change must be accompanied by a completed application form including a one-page outline of your proposed research, and the proposed supervisor’s name and signature. Please contact the ISS administrator for more information.

Supervisor Co-funding

Supervisor co-funding is required for all ISS student stipend awards. Minimum supervisor co-funding requirements for student stipend awards are: $1,125 CDN for a 16-week Undergraduate summer research project; $8,650 CDN annually for up to 2 years for Masters students, and $10, 000 CDN annually for up to 2 years for PhD students. Top-ups for students with other awards also require supervisor or institutional funding to match the ISS Award amount.

Please see the NSERC-CREATE ISS Award Terms and Conditions for more details about ISS Masters and ISS Fellowship Awards.

Travel Funding

ISS Travel Awards

All graduate students accepted to participate in the ISS Program are eligible for ISS Travel Awards.  ISS Travel Awards are intended to facilitate collaboration between universities and between university and industry, through financial support of living and travel costs while away from home on exchanges, internships or other individual research related activities.  If students do not choose to participate in the internship or exchange opportunities offered by the ISS program, they are welcome to participate in all program courses and events, but the Travel Awards may not be claimed for other purposes. 

Maximum Travel Award budgets for eligible expenses per student are listed below, but must be justified with a Student Proposal (see Instructions for Trainees)

Maximum Awards:

  • If students receive other funding designated for travel during Internships or Exchanges (including salaries), the above amounts will be adjusted appropriately. 
  • Students may be awarded reimbursements for eligible expenses up to $1,500 for travel necessary for (non-exchange) research collaboration between partner universities, as described in the student’s application.


  • Students doing internships may be awarded Travel and Subsistence Cost Funding of up to $2,500 for domestic travel and/or salary contributions of up to $2,000 CDN.


  • Students participating in exchanges may be awarded Travel and Subsistence Cost Funding up to $1,500 CDN for between Partner Universities, up to $2,500 CDN for domestic travel and up to $5,000 CDN for international travel.
  • These amounts can be revised in special circumstances (e.g. trip duration) based on availability of funding.

Eligible expenses:

  • Travel funding is only available for trips outside the city area of the student’s home university or primary laboratory.
  • Subsistence cost funding is only available for trips which require overnight accommodation.
  • Air travel must be claimed at the lowest rate available and may not exceed full economy fare.
  • Cost of land travel, up to the equivalent economy airfare.
  • Travel cancellation insurance.
  • Travel health insurance for trainees who do not receive any such benefits from their university or other sources.
  • Entry visa fees when required.
  • Safety-related expenses for fieldwork such as protective gear, immunizations etc.
  • The program will provide an allowance (as deemed reasonable by the Program Administration) for ground transportation costs to and from your residence and your point of departure (e.g., airport, train station, bus station) for travel to and from exchanges and internships only.
  • The program does not provide an allowance for the cost of transporting excess baggage or removing household effects.
  • Food costs during student exchanges are normally considered covered by the student’s regular stipend.
  • All travel claims must meet the rules of the student’s institution.

Note: Frequent flyer points will not be reimbursed.


  • Claims must be submitted separately for each trip, within three (3) months of the event, or of the students’ return.
  • Students must use the Travel Claim Form provided and include official supporting documentation including, as available:
  • Conference or workshop programs or prospectuses
  • Official receipts such as hotel bills, car rental agreements (credit card slips are not valid)Original air travel ticket receipts and boarding passes Any other evidence that supports the travel expenses claimed
  • Prepayment of travel expenses is available upon the submission of a complete invoice or quote from a recognized travel agency.  A completed travel claim and receipts will still be needed upon the completion of the trip.  Unclaimed prepayments or overpayments will have to be reimbursed or deducted from later claims.
  • The reimbursement procedure must comply with the rules and procedures at the student’s institution.

Other Travel Funding:

Reimbursement for eligible expenses is available to all ISS students traveling between Partner Universities for required ISS Program workshops, courses, seminars, summer courses and other program related training activities. Travel costs for these trips do not need to be preapproved and do not count towards student maxima. 

This allowance is not designed to offset daily commuting costs to and from the student’s organization.

Where possible, the Program Administration will provide means to minimize costs or participants e.g., videoconferencing, group travel.

NOTE: Where group accommodation and transport is provided, claims for alternate means will not be accepted unless authorized in advance.

Limited financial support may be available for special training opportunities related to the goals of the ISS Training Program, to be determined on an individual basis, based on resources available and program fit.  Training which will be covered by the ISS Program will need to be preapproved prior to the date of the event; this will ensure that students will know what funding will be available when planning their trip.  ISS will contribute the cost of training registration fees at selected confrences, but will not pay for travel to or from conferences in normal circumstances.

Requests for training funding should be submitted to the Program Administration at least three (3) weeks prior to the final deadline for registration, and should include the students’ name, a description of the event its relevance to the ISS Program as well as information on the cost of registration, the location and the dates of the proposed travel.  Training expense claims (if any) are not considered to be part of ISS Travel Awards.

Exchange and Internship Information

The NSERC CREATE ISS Program does not guarantee the student any offers of Industrial Internships or Academic Exchanges.  Completion and submission of necessary applications and documents are the responsibility of the student. 

The ISS Program will provide reasonable assistance and information about opportunities to students applying for Internships and Exchanges.  Should one not be forthcoming within a reasonable period, the Program Administration will, in conjunction with the student, attempt to procure a reasonable alternative.

Trainees may apply to receive re-imbursements toward living expenses during the internships and exchanges, as well as travel expenses if the host institution does not cover such expenses directly or indirectly through remuneration.

Graduate trainees are eligible to apply for internships for 1-2 semesters with the ISS Training Network’s partners in Industry. In accordance with NSERC guidelines, Canadian locations and Canadian owned companies are preferred internship partners.

Graduate trainees are also eligible for Academic Internships in mentors’ academic labs affiliated with the ISS Network.

Instructions for Trainees

Applications for internships will normally be processed by companies at least 6 months prior to the internship start date, so please start early.

Applications for exchanges will normally be processed 3-6 months prior to the exchange start date, so please start early.

Student proposals for travel funding (the “Statement of Interest”) must be submitted at least 3 weeks before the leaving date to arrange an advance.

Trainees should first read the websites of the internship and university exchange partners to identify areas of interest relevant to their research training.  Exchange opportunities will also arise from existing research collaborations or contacts of the student’s research advisor, so the students are encouraged to discuss exchange opportunities with their advisor. Internship applicants should also regularly review the Internship Opportunities provided by the Program Administration on MyCourses. ISS Industry partners will be contacted by Program staff on trainees’ behalf, who will then contact trainees.

After identifying areas of interest, students should contact the ISS Program Administrator to discuss options and requirements. The ISS program also encourages all students to contact their local departmental or university exchange and internship offices.

After conferring with their graduate advisor, trainees should submit a Statement of Interest to the ISS Program Coordinator which outlines: Internship/Exchange Partner of interest, research topic interest, dates for proposed internship/exchange and an updated CV in the official ISS format. Please see the template on MyCourses.

For additional information, please contact the Program Administrator at administrator-MIAM [dot] engineering [at] mcgill [dot] ca

International Students: An Off-Campus Work Permit is required in order to participate in Internships, applications for work permits can take up to 6 months.

Other Information

The NSERC CREATE ISS Program is unable to assume liability for accidents, illness, or losses that may occur during participation in the ISS Program. You are responsible for ensuring that you have appropriate insurance.

Summary of revision changes

Revision 4: July 2013

  • Change to Award eligibility requirements according to the latest Tri-Agency agreement.
  • Clarification of Internship Funding options
  • Modification of conference funding options
  • Clarifications to exchange and internship instructions and travel awards sections

Revision 3: March 2013

  • Modification of application instructions
  • Clarification of graduate trainee terms and conditions
  • Modification of Internship Funding options

Revision 2: March 2012

  • Modification of eligibility requirements for funding and participation
  • Changes to graduate funding terms and conditions
  • Clarification of Travel Funding rules
  • Changes to internship/exchange instructions for ISS Trainees

Revision 1: April 2011

  • Minor changes for clarity and consistency of terms throughout
  • Clarification of eligibility requirements and program lengths
  • Addition of Application Forms and Application Process sections
  • Addition of undergraduate terms of acceptance
  • Changes to procedures for students who receive external awards
  • Changes to internship/exchange requirements




The ISS Training Program is funded in part by Funded in part by the National Science & Engineering Research Council of Canada and by the Participating Universities:  

  Training program activities hosted by McGill University     ISS hosted in concert with Universite de Sherbrooke          ISS hosted in concert with Ecole Polytechnique       ISS hosted in concert with INRS