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The ISS PhD Training Program

PhD students accepted into the Integrated Sensor System Training Program are working on an existing multidisciplinary and collaborative research project on integrated sensor system development at one of the four participating universities. They have a strong interest in developing additional experience and skills to support this research and to develop a career in manufacturing, research and development and/or academia.

The students in the ISS PhD Training Program take the equivalent of 3-4 credits (~170 hours) in non-credit professional and technical workshops which are designed to ease the student’s transition into the job market.

The NSERC CREATE PhD Training Program in Integrated Sensor Systems is open to students registered as PhD students at McGill, Sherbrooke, Ecole Polytechnique or INRS.  At the time of application, students do not need to have been accepted into the PhD program of choice, but the student must have a supervisor at one of the schools willing to sponsor them in an eligible project to start in the upcoming September, January or May.

PhD students within the ISS Training Program should be working on an existing (or proposed) Thesis research project under a research supervisor at one of the Partner Universities. This project should be within the scope of the Integrated Sensor System program and involve time spent at least 2 partner laboratories in different disciplines or schools.

PhD students should have completed no more than two (2) years of their degree at the time of application. PhD students should also have enough time left in their degree to complete all program requirements (2 years including summer).  

Please see the Program Guide for full details on eligibility requirements.

Take three (3) of the following intensive hands-on workshops usually held in the summer semester (2-5 days each).
  • Introduction to Silicon Microfabrication
  • Introduction to Surface Chemistry
  • Hands-on Workshop in Micro and Nanobiotechnology (an introduction to soft lithography and microfluidics) [winter semester]
  • Introduction to Surface and Materials Characterization
  • Sensor Integration
  • Others as available

2.    Take eight (8) of the following 9 short courses on professional skills held throughout the year (1-4 days each)

  • Basic Business Skills*^ (9 evening sessions)
  • Project Management*
  • Intellectual Property*
  • Academic Integrity*^
  • Learning to Teach Day^
  • Leading Effective Discussions: Facilitation Skills for Graduate Students^
  • Captivating an Audience: Public Speaking/Communicating your research to non-scientists^
  • Human Biomedical Research Ethics: Guiding You in the Right Direction
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Process Control
  • Others as available

*required topics    ^a Skillsets offering

3.  As well as attending and participating in each year for 2 years:

  • A monthly seminar series (At least 50% each year) on sensor research
  • The development of an annual CREATE-ISS Sensors Summer School
  • The development of an annual CREATE-ISS Winter Networking Event


4. Undertake an industrial internship in technology development OR a research exchange in an international partner university (some funding available)#

5. ISS PhD students are also encouraged to take at least 2 relevant courses of their choice and are invited to other industry and research professional networking and social events.

# Required for ISS PhD Fellowship Award holders, optional for non-Award holders

The PhD ISS Training Program should take a 6-7 semesters (including summers) to complete.

  • To be eligible for the ISS Fellowship Awards, PhD students may not be current holders of NSERC scholarships.
  • Preference will be given to students enrolled in natural science and engineering fields.
  • Please note that internships/exchanges are required for ALL ISS Award holders.
  • NSERC Scholars may apply for the ISS training programs and may receive sponsored participation and exchange or internship travel funding, but not ISS Masters Awards or ISS PhD Fellowship Stipends.  Based on the recent revisions to the Tri-COUNCIL award guides, the possibility of “top-ups” for NSERC Scholars is currently being evaluated, but this may take until after the application date.  If this is revised, applicants will be offered these automatically if they qualify.
  • If you do not wish to apply to join the training program, you may still attend those events open to the public at your own expense, when space is available.  These are listed on the ISS website we are happy to add you to the network email list.
  • Please see the Program Guide for full details on eligibility requirements.
  • Cost compensation for selected travel and accommodation expenses assumed as a result of participation in the ISS program is available.
  • Application for travel funds will be assessed based on need for funding during the program application process.
  • Please see the Program Guide for full details on eligibility 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