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PHAS SMS - Student Machine Shop is a Course

PHAS SMS - Student Machine Shop

Started May 11, 2022

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Full course description

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The Technical Services of the Department of Physics & Astronomy provides access to its Student Machine Shop (SMS). Located in Hennings 224, the machine shop is opened to students, staff, and faculty who require space and tooling to work on personal projects. The machine shop is equipped with all the necessary tools for woodworking, metal machining, sheet metal work, soldering, etc. It is also manned from 8am to 4pm, Monday to Friday, by an experienced machinist who will be more than happy to assist you.

To gain access to the facility, you must complete an introductory course where you will learn the safe usage of the different machine tools. We believe that the best way to learn is through practice, therefore, the course is almost entirely hands-on. You will learn basic machining skills by tackling a project: a cell-phone holder.


This project is broken down into various modules, with each module emphasizing different tools and skills, such as:

  • Safety rules and machine tool fundamentals
  • Measuring, drawing, hand tools, drill press, tap and drill
  • Basic lathe, facing, turning, threading with die, etc.
  • Basic milling, edge finding, automatic feed, drilling, etc.
  • Waterjet cutter, grinding lathe tool bits
  • Advanced lathe techniques
  • Machining strategies

Once you pass the course, you will be able to access the facility at any time using your UBC ID card. The SMS safety rules must be obeyed at all time. Those caught doing anything that could endanger themselves, other users, or any of the equipment may get their access revoked.


The course is given twice per school term in two different formats. Both formats cover the same material, but at a different pace:

Fast Track

  • Suitable for people who want to complete the course quickly.
  • Starts on the second week of each term (2nd week of January, May, and September).
  • Last one week from Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm.
  • 30 min lunch break.


  • Suitable for people with busy schedule.
  • Starts on the third week of each term (3rd week of January, May, and September).
  • Create your own schedule from the SMS Course Website.
  • Each module is given multiple times at different time slots.
  • Classes are available on week days (Mon-Fri) from 8am to 11:45am or from 12:15pm to 4pm.
  • Last 5 to 10 weeks depending on the individual's availability.

The course consists of 10 sessions (or modules) of 3h 45min:

Module 1

  • Basic safety rules
  • Tour of technical services
  • Fundamentals of Machine Tools
  • Measuring tools
  • Detailed drawing
  • Hand tools
  • Drill press
  • Tap and Drill (reading chart)

Module 2

  • Basic operation of a lathe
  • Facing
  • Turning
  • Threading with die
  • Drilling hole and center drill

Module 3

  • Basic operation of a milling machine
  • Using an edge finder
  • Side Milling
  • Face milling
  • Automatic feed
  • Drilling

Module 4

  • Waterjet cutter
  • Grinding lathe tool bits: Aluminum and brass

Module 5

  • Automatic feed on a lathe
  • Single point threading on a lathe

Project (Module 6-10)

  • Complete main project
  • Machining strategies


Course Fee

To cover the cost of material and technician time, the department charges a course fee of:

  • Person affiliated with the Physics & Astronomy department: $300
  • Person affiliated with UBC: $500
  • Person outside UBC: $900

+ 5% GST if not paid by UBC

SMS Access Fee

To cover tooling and maintenance costs, an annual fee of $120 is charged to those who wish to access the SMS facility once the course is completed. People affiliated with the Physics & Astronomy department are not charged for using our facility and are exempted of this fee.


If you have any questions, please contact