Undergraduate Teaching Assistant (UTA) Handbook


Needless to say, the art of being a CSE teaching assistant cannot be encapsulated in a handbook. The goal of this page is, then, to provide technical tips and tricks for troubleshooting in the lab, and to specify some of the other non-technical aspects.

Contact Consult!

Emailing Dr. Alphonce (or a different professor you TA for) is often the thing to do, but in some cases, he can't do anything for you.

Consult is the one to email for matters pertaining to the room equipment, such as the overhead and card swipe. He is also the one to ask about student CSE password problems and repository membership. If needed, CC Dr. Alphonce on these emails.

Consult can be reached at cse-consult@buffalo.edu.


  1. Eclipse won't open and gives a "workspace in use" error.
    • This happens when the student leaves his workspace open in Oracle or on a different computer. Creating a new workspace is one option, but the student will not be able to access anything in his main workspace.
    • Another option is to kill all Eclipse processes running with the student's username.
      • Use 'ps aux | grep ' to find the student's processes and process identifiers (pids).
      • Use 'kill -9 ' to kill off any such processes, where is the process id of an Eclipse process, which will show up as a Java process.
      • Once Eclipse processes are killed off, check ~/workspace/.metadata/ for a .lock file.
      • Use 'ls -la' to get a long listing including all files (even "hidden" files, files whose filenames begin with '.').
  2. Eclipse is out of memory.
    • Kill all running programs in Eclipse or just restart Eclipse altogether.
    • Check for infinite loops or anything else that would prevent a program from stopping when expected.
  3. The student is confused about the configuration of his perspective or can't find something in the perspective.
    • Simply reset the perspective. Window -> Reset Perspective...
  4. Interacting with CVS Repositories
    • To connect to a repository:
      1. Change perspective to CVS Repository Exploring.
      2. Click the "Add Repository" button or find it in the right-click menu.
      3. Enter the requested information. For most cases:
        • Host: timberlake.cse.buffalo.edu
        • Repository Path: specified by instructor. Probably in the form /projects/CSEXXX/Repositories/SemesterYYYY/Code
        • User: UBIT username
        • Password: CSE password
        • Connection Type: extssh
        • Leave default for everything else
    • To synchronize with a repository:


  1. Web-CAT won't display a student's score when he tries to submit. (Note: this problem does not display an error message.)
    • Web-CAT does not accept passwords containing a '$'. If the student's UBIT password contains a '$', he must change it here.
  2. For any other problems or errors, notify Dr. Alphonce. Include the exact error message in the email.

Write-Ups (for CSE116)

  1. Student closes Eclipse write-up window or terminal before he means to.
    • Preferred solution:
    • Alternative solution: Simply run the write-up script again. When asked what you would like to overwrite, enter 'N' for none. BEWARE that this only works if the script does not overwrite any older workspaces.


Finch experiences go here.

Miscellaneous Technical

  1. A computer is locked because someone left without logging out.
    • Ctrl-Alt-Bkspace, Bkspace. Unfortunately, this only works for the GNOME lock screen, not the SunRay lock screen.
  2. Student is confused about the assignment.
    • Go to the instructions. He probably did not read them thoroughly.
  3. Anthing else you don't know the answer to:
    • Be resourceful. Try some things. If you can't get it, apologize and ask Google.


  1. You would like to get paid.
    • Fill out your timesheet and hand it in! Make sure it is on time if you would like to get paid in a timely manner.
    • The following items belong on your timesheet:
      • Recitations
      • Office Hours
      • Weekly UTA Meeting
      • Exam Invigilation
      • Lectures you cover for the professor
      • Times you meet with students outside of regularly scheduled time for CSE help
      • For other times you're uncertain about, ask your supervising professor.
    • You can get paid either by a physical check or by direct deposit. The physical check will show up every other week in your mailbox in Davis 338 (Staff Entrance). For direct deposit, you must fill out the appropriate paperwork. You will receive receipts in your mailbox.
    • For any paperwork or questions, see Jen Wojcik in Davis 338O.
  2. Attendance sheets (CSE116)
    • Allow the students to sign in during the first 10 minutes of lab. Make sure everyone has signed in and then mark which students are not there.
    • Have the students sign out as they leave lab. If a student forgets to sign out and you are sure he was there the whole time, you may make a note or simply sign your own name.
    • Be sure to bring your timesheets to Dr. Alphonce at the weekly UTA meetings. Hand-written sheets are acceptable if you forgot to print the official ones.
  3. Interacting with the students


  1. Carl Alphonce, UTA Coordinator.
  2. Jen Wojcik, Budget Manager.