Engineering Teaching Assistant Certification

The Engineering Teaching Assistant Certification program provides professional learning opportunities in the fundamentals of engineering education, promoting student success and other aspects of fulfilling their responsibilities as educators and mentors. Certification is required for all new Cockrell School TAs during the first semester in which they are appointed. TAs who aspire to have a career in academia have additional opportunities to participate in a community of practice and attain an Advanced Engineering TA Certification.

The certification process consists of four elements, all of which must be completed to attain certification:

  • Eight-hour TA certification workshop
  • In-class observation or participation in a teaching practicum session
  • Early-semester survey of teaching effectiveness
  • Official UT Austin course-instructor survey (CIS or eCIS) — TA version

Engineering TA Certification Workshop

This eight-hour workshop is offered over one or two days prior to the beginning of the semester. It is based on research and best practices in engineering education and takes a hands-on, interactive approach to covering the following:

  • Developing an understanding of the Cockrell School student body and the culture of higher education in the United States
  • Fundamentals of engineering pedagogy
  • Promoting student success
  • Learning styles
  • Effectively managing the responsibilities of the TA position
  • Developing and maintaining professional relationships with faculty, staff and students

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In-Class Observation and Teaching Practicum

Depending on the nature of their appointment, TAs are observed during their class/lab session or participate in a teaching practicum. Observations are followed by a debrief meeting with the TA to provide constructive feedback for improving teaching effectiveness.

Teaching practica provide TAs with the opportunity to demonstrate their teaching skills via short problem-solving sessions. TAs receive professional and peer feedback for improving teaching effectiveness.

"The TA training program not only helped me to develop my communications skills in a more active way, it also helped me to see the problems from a student's point of view, which improved my presentation skills. I am glad that we had such great training, and I hope the program continues for every new TA."

— Murat Karatas, certified teaching assistant, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

"In May 2013, I was still a fourth-year engineering student. In August 2013, I became an instructor for both third- and fourth-year engineering students — the TA training program smoothed this quick jump for me."

— Zeina Sinno, certified teaching assistant, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

"UT Austin places great emphasis on the integration of graduate students in the teaching process, and the Cockrell School's TA training program proves it. With its core and elective modules, along with microteaching sessions, the program turns the training process into an entertaining and valuable experience"

—Utku Eren, certified teaching assistant, Department of Mechanical Engineering

"The new TA training program was a unique way to gain insight on the important issues associated with higher education. Connecting with peers and learning from the teaching experience of instructors was an invaluable way to prepare for a career in academia."

— Jack Bringardner, certified teaching assistant, Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering


Thomas J. Connolly, Ph.D.
Instructional Designer, Director of Graduate Student Professional Development Program
Contact Dr. Connolly