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.
Posted in Information

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.

Posted in Information, Students | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

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 | 6 Comments

Startup city: The high-tech fever reshaping Kitchener-Waterloo – The Globe and Mail

An interesting article on the Waterloo area and start-up company activity in recent years, including the impact of Waterloo Engineering and co-op education.

Startup city: The high-tech fever reshaping Kitchener-Waterloo – The Globe and Mail.

Posted in Engineering Education | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Canada versus U.S.

"Flags-of-usa-and-canada" by Makaristos - Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Flags-of-usa-and-canada.jpg#/media/File:Flags-of-usa-and-canada.jpgUsually, when Canadians speak of “Canada vs. U.S.” here it is with reference to a hockey series.  However, in celebration of Canada Day (July 1) and Independence Day (July 4) holidays, here I’m going to point out a few differences in terminology and other things that you might run across when looking at engineering programs at Canadian and U.S. post-secondary institutions. (these are based on my observations, and there will be exceptions of course, because this is a huge and complex topic) Continue reading

Posted in Application Insights, Engineering Education, Information, International | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Decision Time

We are approaching the June 1 2015 (midnight) deadline to accept the offers we have sent out this cycle.  Quite a few have already accepted, but others are maybe still weighing their options.  A couple of years ago I posted a decision matrix method that is sometimes used by engineers and others to compare options in a somewhat objective way.  Might be worth a look.

Probably the most difficult decision scenario is for those who got an offer to an alternative program, or whose interests have recently changed to another program.  Perhaps they are thinking about accepting the offer, then going for a transfer to the program of more interest.  Our general advice:  do not accept your Waterloo Engineering offer if you do not think that you will be happy with that program!!  You cannot count on a transfer happening, due to a variety of issues including lack of space.  It’s impossible to say for certain, but here are some projections for transfers between programs based on recent years and space availability.

Very unlikely:  transfers into Software, Biomedical, Systems Design, Mechatronics, Nanotechnology.  Space is tight, and a lot of people want to transfer  to these.

Might be possible:  transfers into Chemical, Computer, Electrical, Mechanical, but depends from year to year on space.

Often possible:  transfers into Civil, Environmental, Geological, Management.  These have a little bit more flexibility for space.

For those who have already inquired about switching programs, we will start looking at that in mid-June once we can see what the exact space situation is like.

Posted in Application Insights | Tagged | 34 Comments

Reviewing Results

After finishing the offers for the current cycle, we start to review the statistics to prepare material for the next (2016) cycle, including an update to the “probabilities table” like the one shown in a previous post and in our applicant information.  We have compiled the preliminary results from the 2015 cycle and these are shown below, where “Probability” is the percent of applicants with an admission average in the given grade range who received an offer to their first choice program.  These are raw admission averages, without any other bonus or factors.  The results show some surprising changes from what we have seen in the past and expected.   Continue reading

Posted in Application Insights, Information | Tagged | 76 Comments

Final Offers 2015

It’s been a while since I have had much time to get to this blog…very busy with courses, research projects, and admissions of course.

So we’ve finished the decisions and they are being processed.  As of today (May 4) the Ontario (Form  101) offers have been posted on Quest (and will be followed shortly by email and OUAC).  The out-of-province (Form 105) take a bit longer to process and will probably show up on Quest by the end of this week (May 8).  We are working on scholarship decisions, and those should be available next week I believe.

This year seemed to be particularly complicated.  A thousand more applicants (about 11,000 total), and very strong competition for Biomedical and Software especially.  The net result is that a lot of applicants got offers to their alternate choices, or not at all, even though they may have had very good grades.  It’s unfortunate, but we only have so many spaces to go around.

The next step is for those with offers to seriously think about whether Waterloo Engineering is the right place for them, before the deadline in early June.  There is one last open house on May 23 to get information to help with that decision.  I’ll try to post some thoughts about the alternate offers in the near future.

Posted in Application Insights | 25 Comments