New York STEM College Fair

On Sunday October 15 2017 we will be attending a STEM College Fair in New York City.  We are looking forward to the chance to meet some high school students and their parents, and to talk about Waterloo Engineering, co-op education, and studying in Canada.

At the same event last year, held on the campus of Columbia University, we were pleased to meet a number of parents that mentioned that they already knew something about Waterloo because their co-workers were alumni, or their company  hired our co-op students.  We had some interesting conversations with many others who didn’t know about Waterloo or had questions about studying in Canada.

If there are any blog readers from the New York area, Karyn  and I would be happy to meet you at the STEM College Fair.  We will also be around for a couple of days doing some engineering workshops at local high schools and meeting independent guidance counsellors, so anyone who wants to meet us but can’t attend the College Fair can always send us an email (assoc.dir.admissions.eng@uwaterloo.ca) and we’ll see if we can arrange something.

Ontario Universities Fair 2017

A crowd around the Engineering area of Waterloo’s booth.

As usual, the Ontario Universities Fair was a busy place last weekend as high school students and families talked to people from all the universities in Ontario gathered in the Toronto Convention Centre.  Here is a photo I snapped while taking a quick break from the crowd.  We had dozens of faculty, staff and current students there to answer questions about our programs.  There are always some common questions, so here are some of them with a quick answer. Continue reading

Silicon Valley STEM College Fair

On Sunday October 8 2017 we will be attending a STEM College Fair in Santa Clara, California.  It’s a great opportunity for us to meet some high school students and their parents, and to talk about Waterloo Engineering, co-op education, and studying in Canada.

This will be the second year for this event, which was held in South San Francisco last year.  Mirjana and I were somewhat overwhelmed with interested people last year and we were talking non-stop for the full three hours.  I was impressed by the number of parents that approached us and mentioned that they already knew something about Waterloo because their co-workers were alumni, or their company regularly hired our co-op students.  Of course there were many others who didn’t know about Waterloo or had never thought about studying in Canada, so we had some good discussions with them too.

If there are any readers from that area, Karyn (our current Associate Director of Admissions) and I would be happy to meet you at the STEM College Fair.  For any readers that can’t make it to that, we will be hosting an evening event on Tuesday October 10th at Bellarmine College Preparatory from 7-9 pm.  Please feel free to come out along with your families to learn more about what Canada’s most innovative university has to offer. You will also have a chance to meet our local alumni and a few of the hundreds of current Waterloo students that are on their work term (internships) at various companies in the Silicon Valley area. Please register Here  so we know how many to expect.  Registration closes on Thursday, October 5th.

We will also be around for a couple of days doing some engineering workshops at local high schools, so anyone who wants to meet but can’t attend those either of those two events can always contact us by email (assoc.dir.admissions.eng@uwaterloo.ca) and we’ll see if we can arrange something.

Admissions 2018: How it’s going to work

An updated version of this popular post, with some revisions  for the upcoming September 2018 admissions cycle. 

Here is an overview on how the process works and the approximate timelines.  As usual, this is specific to Waterloo Engineering admissions; other programs and universities will have their own unique variations.  Also, make sure you look through our admissions webpages for exact deadlines and official requirements since this is just an unofficial, quick overview and I can’t cover every detail for every variety of applicant and situation. Continue reading

Chances for 2018

To start the new academic year and next admission cycle, the 2018 Admissions brochures for Engineering and other programs have recently been uploaded on the Waterloo website.  We continue to include a table showing admission probabilities (“chances”) for different programs and grade ranges (at the end of the brochure, and another online version is available here).  Many people find it useful for assessing  their chances at admission, and  then they can plan accordingly and have realistic expectations.   This is based on the 2017 results and as usual we caution that 2018 may be different, since it all depends on the number of applicants (which is unknown in advance and can fluctuate).

For convenience and readability in a table, we lump the grades into ranges.  Some people find the big jumps in probability between the different grade ranges to be difficult to understand or interpret, so I have been generating graphs that provide interpolations between the various grades in finer detail (see the end of the post for methodology, if interested).  As usual, the grades shown below are the raw, unadjusted averages of the Grade 12 required courses (or equivalents), not including any other factors such as scores for extracurriculars, work experience, or awards. Continue reading

Synopsis

It’s been quite a while since last posting, as various higher priority things arose, such as managing the admissions process, teaching various courses, and directing several larger research projects.  Things are still quite busy, but there is time for a quick overview of what’s happened as we gear up for the next admission cycle for September 2018.

For the 2017 cycle just finished, in very rough numbers…

  • we had around 12,500 applicants for our 1,600 spaces in Engineering.  That was a couple of hundred more than last year.
  • we had a significant rise in applications from people in the U.S., possibly because of our increasing presence there by alumni, co-op students, and other friends of the university?
  • our estimates worked out well and the programs were filled to capacity.
  • as in previous years, Biomedical and Software Engineering were highly competitive, and the rest not too far behind.  I’ll work on a new “chances” post for the fall, but there probably aren’t going to be very big differences from the Chances 2017 version.
  • as always, picking a few applicants from among so many good ones continued to be challenging.  As an indication, over 3,000 applicants with 90+% averages did not receive an offer to any engineering program.  Unfortunately we just don’t have enough facilities, space, faculty and staff to take any more.

There are lots of other interesting (hopefully?) things I plan to post in the coming weeks and months about admissions, research, our students, and engineering in general.

Chatting about Engineering

One of our most valuable resources for finding out about an engineering education and co-op work experiences is our students.  We have quite a few volunteer Engineering Ambassadors who attend open houses, do tours and the Shadow Program, and are generally enthusiastic about sharing their experiences at Waterloo, both good and bad.

Our annual March Break Open House (March 18, 2017) is one opportunity to meet them, but there are lots of applicants who can’t attend for scheduling reasons or due to long distances.  So new this year, the Ambassadors have launched EngChat, where you can sign up to meet online (Skype) and have a discussion about Waterloo with a current student.  I’m looking forward to hearing how this goes, but it seems like a good and valuable resource for applicants (and perhaps their parents too).

For those who can’t visit campus, another useful resource is the Engineering Virtual tour below.  It gives a nice overview of various places on campus (although I note  that it doesn’t show any scenes from winter, which is a pretty time of year in its own way!).

 

News About Admissions

A brief update on what’s happening in the 2017 engineering admissions cycle.

  • Recently we sent out some offers to Ontario high school (OUAC Form 101) applicants.  As usual, we only sent enough to fill about 25% of the available spaces in each program, so we leave lots for the major round in early May.  Generally these offers go to top-ranked applicants with strong grades across the board, a submitted AIF, and 3 Grade 12 required courses completed.
  • Plans are in motion for our annual March Break Open House on March 18.  A visit to Waterloo is highly recommended for those within travel distance, especially if you’ve never been here before.  It’s a great chance to meet and talk with current students about their class and co-op experiences.
  • We’re working away on the non-Ontario (OUAC Form 105) applicant files, which is a complicated and manual process.  Tentatively, we hope to send out some offers to this group in early April.
  • We continue to review Admission Information Forms (AIFs).  Applicants should make sure they pressed “Submit” and not just “Save”, otherwise we don’t consider it and an offer is very unlikely.
  • We’re also working away on reviewing the submitted optional interviews.  It’s too early to conclude anything, but they seem to be going well.
  • Our big push for offers comes in early May, and then all the admitted applicants have until early June to make their final decision.  We will start compiling a wait list for any spaces that might open up in June.

Which Program is the Best?

I sometimes get asked which engineering program to pick for the best future career prospects.  I generally won’t answer that because its not the greatest way of selecting a program, and ignores individual aptitude and interest.  Being stuck in a career you don’t like is a likely outcome of that approach.

However there are some technical and societal trends that might be worthwhile thinking about for long-term opportunities and challenges.  And there are some programs that lend themselves to those trends, as I’ll point out.  If these areas are of interest, maybe one or more of the programs I mention are worth a look if you hadn’t thought of them before.  Many of these trends are related to climate change, which is a research and teaching interest of mine.  So here they are, in no particular order.

Continue reading

Alternate Program Selections

Our Engineering programs are “direct entry” (no general first year), so you apply through OUAC to the one of most interest.  Our internal online Admission Information Form (AIF) provides a space to select an alternative choice in engineering, without having to spend more money through OUAC.  Starting with the 2017 cycle there have been a few changes, so it’s probably a good idea to review some ideas and considerations. Continue reading