Engineering student design teams win $50,000 each to launch startups

(Follow the link below for a couple of interesting stories about fourth year design projects in mechanical and nanotechnology engineering.)

With a deadline approaching to commit to their fourth-year Capstone Design project, friends Phil Cooper and Michael Phillips were torn between two ideas: one of them relatively straightforward and the other extremely ambitious. They were still undecided when they went to listen to Chamath Palihapitiya, the celebrated Silicon Valley venture capitalist and Waterloo Engineering alumnus, as he urged students to set aside their fear of failure during an appearance on campus in September. That was it, the inspiration they needed to go for it instead of playing it safe.

Source: Engineering student design teams win $50,000 each to launch startups

Design Projects 2017

It’s that time of year when our graduating engineering students  present the results of their “capstone” design projects.  These are group projects, usually based on some ideas or interests of the students, and under the mentorship of faculty members.  Some are in collaboration with (or inspired by) companies, and others are ideas that may lead to start-up companies.  Quite a few of the 600+ start-ups coming from Waterloo Engineering have had a genesis in these projects.

For high school students thinking about an engineering program, it’s useful to look through these projects to see what catches their interest and to help narrow down the field.  But note how diverse the projects can be, even within one program.

A full list of projects and short descriptions is available here(note there are no biomedical engineering projects here, since no students have reached the last year yet).

Canadian Co-op Programs Blend Classroom, Work Experience | Best Global Universities | US News

A nice overview article about co-op education from U.S. News , featuring one of our Management Engineering students.  Follow the link for the full article.

Sarb Majumdar, of Singapore, is a fourth-year management engineering student at the University of Waterloo in Canada. But if you go to Waterloo and search for him right now, you won’t find him.

He’s in Toronto this term, working full time as a software developer.

Source: Canadian Co-op Programs Blend Classroom, Work Experience | Best Global Universities | US News

Amazon partners with Waterloo to support AI research | Waterloo Stories

A link below to an interesting development, where Amazon is providing Waterloo Engineering and 3 other U.S. universities with support and Alexa-enabled devices  for use in teaching, research and student design projects. 

Photo: cofoistome/iStock/Thinkstock

Recent advances in the fields of human-machine interaction and artificial intelligence (AI) have been so swift that even experts like Fakhri Karray shake their heads in amazement.

Source: Amazon partners with Waterloo to support AI research | Waterloo Stories

Microscholarships

In 2016 the Faculties of Engineering and Mathematics joined a “microscholarships” platform in the U.S., launched by Raise.me in San Francisco.  A microscholarship is a small award for some achievement, for example $10 for getting an “A” in a course.  If a student with a bunch of achievements applies, is accepted, and attends the college offering the microscholarships, then they receive that award (or more, depending on other scholarships, etc.).  The Raise.me online platform provides a way for high school students to document their activities and achievements, and to search for colleges that might be a good fit.  It’s a social innovation that is meant to encourage students to think about post-secondary education and to see what various colleges offer and value in their applicants.

At this time it’s only available to US high school students, and we have a sign up page available where those students can see more about Waterloo.  Eventually Raise.me hopes to roll it out to Canada and other countries.  For us, it’s an interesting outreach tool and we already have several thousand “followers” on the platform.  We will continue to experiment with it and see what role it can play in matching us with good students.

An Amazing Statscan Skills Study | HESA

Source: An Amazing Statscan Skills Study | HESA

An interesting post from our friends at Higher Education Strategy Associates, summarizing a Statistics Canada study on employment skills requirements.  A couple of graphs are reproduced below,  and follow the link above for more details, but here’s a quick take-away from my perspective.

  • Different job categories require different levels of reading comprehension and writing skills.
  • Architecture, engineering and related occupations require the highest levels of reading comprehension and writing skills (the red striped bars in the graphs below).
  • That’s why in engineering admissions and education we’re interested and concerned about reading, writing and communications skills.  There is still lots of room for improvement in our curricula, but it’s an ongoing effort.
  • Not surprisingly, architecture and engineering also require the highest levels of complex problem solving skills.

University of Waterloo | IDEAS Summer Experience

(The following is a brief description and link to a nice summer enrichment program, for students from outside Canada finishing Grade 10 and 11, or equivalent.  It combines the elements that we strive for in Engineering education, namely hands-on experience, interdisciplinary thinking, and creativity/innovation.  For more information or to consider participating see the link below.  Prof. Bill Anderson)

IDEAS: A summer enrichment program for international high school students Poverty. Global warming. The digital divide. It takes big ideas to solve problems like these. Join high school students from around the world at IDEAS Summer Experience, and use your big ideas to try to solve some of society’s most serious challenges.

IDEAS is a 2-week summer enrichment program at the University of Waterloo, ranked as Canada’s most innovative university for the past 25 years.

With help from our award-winning professors and IDEAS mentors, you’ll learn to look at global problems in new ways, use hands-on activities to develop your research and communication skills, apply problem-solving techniques from the fields of engineering, health sciences, the humanities, and more. You may not solve the world’s problems in 2 weeks. But you will learn valuable skills, experience what it’s like to study and live at one of Canada’s top universities, and make friends from other countries.

Source: University of Waterloo | IDEAS Summer Experience

Applications open for Waterloo Unlimited’s Grade 11 program

As I’ve noted before, this is a great program started by one of our Systems Design Engineering professors, Ed Jernigan.  I recently got a postcard from one of the Grade 12 participants, who clearly enjoyed the experience.

Waterloo Unlimited, the transdisciplinary high school enrichment program on campus, is currently accepting applications for Grade 11 “Design” program (March 13-17, 2017).  Bright, motivated students from across Canada will attend lectures and participate in workshops, seminars and labs offered by all six Faculties, exploring the theme of “Design”.  Applications are due December 14th, 2016.

To promote awareness of Waterloo Unlimited’s programming, Markus Moos from the Faculty of Environment, School of Planning, created a video based on an Urban Planning workshop he offered to Unlimited students during the 2016 grade 11 “Design” themed program. The video provides an inside look at one of the many “eye-opening” experiences high school students encounter while on campus.

Program and application details are available on the Waterloo Unlimited website.

Source: Thursday, December 8, 2016 | Daily Bulletin

Waterloo scores top marks in graduate employability

[An interesting news item.  Nice to see some international recognition for co-op education.]

The University of Waterloo ranked 22nd in the world for graduate employability and first for employer partnerships as part of an international ranking that evaluates employability in universities from UK firm Quacquarelli Symonds (QS).

The ranking scores universities in five categories: employer reputation, alumni outcomes, partnerships with employers, employers’ presence on campus and graduate employment rate.

Waterloo rates first overall in the world in the partnerships with employers category. The success of this category is a result of Waterloo’s largest and most successful co-operative education program of its kind, and from the established research partnerships within the industry.

“The University of Waterloo delivers an unmatched experiential education program that enrolls two-thirds of our students,” said Feridun Hamdullahpur. “Waterloo’s co-op students graduate with up to two years of degree-relevant, paid work experience, a network of contacts and hands-on understanding of how businesses work. Simply put, our students are not only employable at graduation but are sought after by organizations worldwide.”

Waterloo co-op students work with some of the biggest and most influential companies in the world including AECOM, Barclays, General Motors, Google, Morgan Stanley and The Walt Disney Corporation. More than 6,700 employers hire Waterloo co-op students in more than 60 countries and in 2015/2016, students at Waterloo reported more than $253 million in co-op earnings.

QS first published the pilot version of the Graduate Employability Rankings in 2015. QS worked over three years to identify a suitable methodology to provide the world’s students with a unique tool to compare university performance in this area.

Source: Wednesday, November 30, 2016 | Daily Bulletin