I manage the University of Waterloo’s Engineering undergraduate admission process, which has become one of the most competitive in Canada.  So, I’ve created this blog to help applicants and their friends and families understand more about how the admissions process works from an insider’s perspective.  I’ll offer news and insights throughout the year as we work through the next admissions cycle.  I’ll also comment on interesting items related to engineering research, education, and teaching from time to time.  Click the “Follow” button to the right to keep up to date on admission developments and information.  Comments are welcomed, but I can’t give opinions on specific applications or circumstances.
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Where Do Waterloo Co-op Students Work?

It’s a common question from prospective students and parents, “where are the co-op jobs located?  Are they mainly around the Waterloo area?”  The answer is definitely “no”, they are not just around Waterloo.  But with over 4,000 employers that hire at Waterloo it’s actually a bit hard to start listing off some companies and places.  Many of them are smaller or specialized companies that the general public rarely hears about.  However, there is one interesting resource that starts to give some insight. Continue reading

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When students have choices among top colleges, which one do they choose? – The Washington Post

(ProfBillAnderson:  Yet another ranking, but one I haven’t noticed before.  This one puts Waterloo in the top ten of student preferences when choosing between offers.  An interesting article and worth a look.)

Stanford University tops another new college ranking list. But the rest of the Parchment Top 25 might surprise you.

Source: When students have choices among top colleges, which one do they choose? – The Washington Post

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Understanding University Rankings

The fall is University Rankings season, as a bunch get released each year.  Alex Usher has a nice blog post that summarizes the major ones and what they include.  I’ve written posts about rankings in the past, which you can find using the search function if you wish.  In general, for high school student applicants I usually suggest that they be very careful about putting too much weight on these rankings, for various reasons discussed before and illustrated below. Continue reading

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Leapfrogging ahead of competition with engineering research partnership – Waterloo Engineering

I’ve always intended to write about some research work, but never find the time.  However, here is a link to a write-up by one of our staff writers.  And a picture of me with a couple of my graduate level (i.e. Masters) researchers.

Waterloo Engineering’s chemical engineering research gives manufacturer a global advantage.

Source: Leapfrogging ahead of competition with engineering research partnership – Waterloo Engineering

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Back to School

It’s the academic new year, and our new and returning students are starting classes this week.  I won’t be returning to class, since I’ve already been teaching courses for the past 12 months straight and am now going into a “non-teaching term”.  Time to catch up on paperwork, side projects, research funding applications and various other things.

For Engineering admissions, we are starting to gear up for the 2016 cycle and getting things ready.  We have the first major event of the recruiting cycle, the Ontario Universities’ Fair coming up on September 25-27.  I wrote a post last year about doing some preparation before attending that event, to make the best use of your time.

Soon I’ll update some information for future posts on what’s going on for Waterloo Engineering admissions.

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What’s New in Nanotechnology?

There is some impression out there that “nanotechnology” (and our Nanotechnology Engineering program) is all very research-oriented, with no practical applications or career prospects yet.  Graduates can only look forward to doing lab research or a PhD degree.  Those are certainly potential paths, but not the only ones by any means.

Nanotechnology has been around for about 30 years (see it’s history).  In many ways, it’s just a specialized way of approaching Materials Science/Engineering, and there are already over 1,500 products on the market that incorporate nanotechnology.  Making products requires more than just lab research, and one of the reasons we launched our Nanotechnology Engineering program was in response to industry needs for people with this expertise.

It also seems that the nanotechnology area is one where there is a lot of room for innovation and entrepreneurship by our undergraduate students.  Here are a few recent examples (mainly based on senior design projects) that have led to start-up companies:

It’s interesting to see what creative new ways that nanotechnology can be used to make new products or improve existing ones.  In my own research lab we are working with companies to develop novel test methods, based on nanotechnology, for detection of water contamination, and this is on the verge of commercialization.  Some day soon I’ll finish a post on that topic.

So for a high school student thinking about different career paths, don’t exclude Nanotechnology Engineering if you’re interested in materials and commercial product development.  It’s not all theory, lab work, and graduate research.

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Engineering Tuition Bargains

I have been meaning to do a comparison of US and Canadian tuition costs for a while, and now a U.S. News article has come out describing the benefits of doing a degree in Canada (presumably aimed at Americans).  So it’s a good time to complete my comparison.

First thing to point out, since 2014 the exchange rate between U.S. and Canadian dollars has shifted significantly.  Where they were once nearly equal, now $1 Canadian is worth about $0.76 U.S.  So if you have income or savings in US dollars, that’s how you can get the big bargain (about 30% more for your dollar!).

Next, which schools should we compare?  Although I don’t particularly like rankings and question their value for selecting an undergraduate education, lots of prospective international student and parents do use them.  So I decided to use the 2014 QS Rankings for Engineering & Technology, centering on Waterloo with a few universities above and below our ranking.  Here are the results of my survey, converting Canadian to US dollars where appropriate: Continue reading

Posted in Engineering Education, Information, International | 14 Comments