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Engineering schools to raise teaching assistant stipends

UGTAs at the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering will be receiving a double in their stipends beginning this fall.

Engineering Research Center
on Friday, May 22, 2015 on the Tempe campus.

Undergraduate teaching assistants at the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering will be seeing a double in their pay this fall. 

ASU will be raising the $500 stipend afforded to UGTAs to $1000 per semester. 

Differential tuition paid by students enrolled in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering will fund the stipend directly, Associate Director of Academic Achievements Carrie Robinson, said.

Robinson said this is a blanket fee capped at around $400 a semester for all students of the engineering program that is used to fund student success programs, like tutoring centers and the UGTA program.

This is a long way from where the program started, when all UGTA positions were filled on a volunteer basis.

Implemented only three years ago, the stipend was intended to be “icing on the cake,” Robinson said. The real benefit lied in the relationships engineering UGTAs could build with faculty and students, as well as the experience gained.

“(UGTAs) get a better knowledge of the class that they serve in,” she said.

However, these less tangible benefits have not always proved an effective incentive in the past.

“We have a core group of students who are willing (to be UGTAs),” Robinson said. “But our program just keeps growing and we have more and more faculty requesting teaching assistants. It’s been difficult to fill positions sometimes.”

Robinson said she believes the time and effort UGTAs in the engineering program put in is invaluable, and that in combination with the need to solicit more students to become UGTAs is the reasoning behind doubling the stipend.

UGTA and civil engineering senior Victoria Flys said she felt confident the increased stipend would bring more students into the UGTA program, although she said the original $500 stipend was fair compensation.

Flys said three semesters ago when she first became a UGTA, she gauged the time commitment in comparison to the $500 stipend and estimated it to come out to around $12 an hour. The higher pay is just an added bonus, she said

“I definitely think (being a UGTA) helped me learn the material better,” Flys said. “It’s also helped me see the class from a teaching perspective. It really opens your mind to a bunch of different learning techniques.”

Civil engineering senior and fellow UGTA Brooke Ridley agreed that being a UGTA has furthered her understanding of the subjects she taught.

“You kind of see it in different ways because each person learns it differently,” she said.

Ridley said working as a UGTA is not at all time consuming, taking only an hour and 15 minutes twice a week, and she finds the work very enjoyable.

“I didn’t ever do it for the money. I didn’t even know there was a stipend, I just enjoy working with the students,” Ridley said. “I always have students at the end of the semester come up to me wanting to be UGTAs and they don’t know about the stipend. I don’t know that the ($1000) stipend will increase that. There is interest. I think it would just create more competition for applicants.”

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