Ah, it’s over. It’s aaalll over.

What a strange feeling it was to have over the holidays. The feeling that you don’t have to do anything. No homework, no assignments, no studying. Just whatever you feel like doing. It honestly felt as though I wasn’t being productive enough and I that I should have gone to review my notes or finish an assignment. Instead I watched movies all day, played a new game that I got, Starbound, and went skating. What a great ending to a fun term. Don’t get me wrong, it was super tough, but in the end it was very satisfying when I finished all of my exams and didn’t have to worry about it anymore.

The first term of university was amazing. Frustrating and stressful at times, but still a really great experience that I do not regret even one bit. You know how as the years go on, it seems as though the semesters/terms/years go on it just goes by quicker and quicker? Well 1A felt as if only one month passed as opposed to four, and in that time they crammed so much more material than I was expecting. It’s quite a leap from high school to university. High school students need to realize that it won’t be easy. It may not even be at fun at times when stressful situations arise and deadlines are to be met. But if you truly are interested in the topic that you are studying, then in the end it’ll feel worth it.

I think the thing I liked least that I’ve encountered was the classmates who were always so negative about everything. The ones who blamed the profs, who got angry when the TAs weren’t marking fast enough, that the midterms were too hard, etc. I definitely was not confident in my marks either just like most of my other classmates, but keeping a positive attitude is important. University definitely is what you make of it, nobody is going to hold your hand through it and make it easier for you. You need to work a bit to keep a positive attitude.

If you go into university and you’re used to acing everything in high school, it will be a big shot to your ego. You WILL feel as if you have failed, even multiple times throughout the term. You WILL be severely disappointing at times when you realize that you’re not getting the marks that you have been getting before. But the thing you need to remember is that you’re surrounded by other smart people who are just as in shock about their marks as you are, and all you really need to do your best relative to others. The grades you get in university don’t reflect your understanding or “smartness” in the same way that they did in high school.

Just remember: Try your hardest, don’t give up on the first sign of not doing as well as you’d hope. Keep going and don’t get discouraged, but mainly have as much fun as you can! You’re in your program (hopefully) because you’re interested in that topic. Enjoy it!

1A Computer Engineering
University of Waterloo

Apply, Interview, Rank, Repeat

Woah, where did the time go? This term has gone by soo fast! From my experience in university, the term goes by quickly and finals are upon you just like that. *snaps* In no time you’ll have your friends going up to you asking whether you started studying yet for finals, and your confused look will give it away that you hadn’t even though about it yet. Which reminds me, I should be studying instead of procrastinating by writing this blog… : D

When you’re in a co-op program such as Computer or Electrical Engineering like me and Celina, not only will you be spending majority of your time finishing up assignments and trying to catch up on sleep every week, you will also have the responsibility of trying to find a job for the next term. In a co-op program, you will be switching between going to school for four months and working at a company for four months. This involves some planning and work beforehand to actually find a job though. This process is all done on a site called Jobmine, where you do all of the searching, applying, and ranking of jobs in the term before your work term. For me and Celina, this is the time that we are looking for jobs.

So far my experience with Jobmine and looking for jobs has not been terrible at all, as opposed to what some people have experienced. It’s pretty simple, mostly intuitive, and if you get stuck or want some clarification there are always resources to guide you through the process. Basically how it works is that you write a resume and possibly a cover letter (for those jobs that you really want or that require them), you upload it to Jobmine, and choose jobs that you want to apply to. Your resume will be sent to those employers, and from everyone that applied they choose a certain amount of people to interview. Those people then do their interviews, and from that set of people the company ranks those that they would want to hire. For those that got chosen, this is the end of their journey until next term. For those that didn’t get the job, the process repeats. Over and over and over again.

Thankfully I have already found a job for the next term, so I’m out of the job searching loop! What they seemed to love asking me about in interviews though, hint hint, is the extra stuff I did on my own time. All of the people who interviewed me seemed quite interested in a game that me and a couple of friends made with Java back in high school. Don’t underestimate the importance of outside-of-school projects! Spend at least some time practicing skills or creating something, even if it seems silly and worthless at the time. These projects are a great way to show off your skills and may even help you become better at something that you have always wanted.

For those in software or computer, I would recommend writing a program or learning a new language, and then posting an app or program that you made onto Github, which is a code sharing site that enables employers to see your programming style and skill. Don’t worry if it seems confusing at first. You’ll get better, you’ll figure it out. (Also don’t forget about Google – a great research resource where you can find useful tutorials!)

Alright, I’m off to go study/sleep, whichever one seems like the better choice at this hour. I would love to hear about your experiences with looking for jobs guys, whether it’s through Jobmine or outside of the co-op program! What kinds of things did they ask in your interviews? Did they seem more interested in your past experiences, and if you didn’t have any did they seem more interested in your projects and what you do outside of school? Comment below. :)

1A Computer Engineering
University of Waterloo

Gallery Page

Heeey guys!

So up until now our posts haven’t really included many photos from our time at University of Waterloo, but we’re hoping to change that! For our blog we have created a separate page that will include many different photos from our time here ranging from our classrooms to clubs to the places around campus. Anything goes. We’re hoping to give you an insight as to what we see in our daily lives here at UW.

It will get updated as the blog goes along, so check it out often! The link is beside the About The Authors page if you scroll all the way up, but if you want to quickly check it out here is the direct url:  https://engiegirlsatuwaterloo.wordpress.com/gallery/

Don’t forget to like or comment! We always love feedback. :D

1A Computer Engineering
University of Waterloo

Lectures, Tutorials And Labs

University is busy, that’s for sure.

Ever heard of “Sleep, social life, good grades; choose three”? Well, it’s not a lie. For me it’s mainly deciding between sleep and a social life. Assignments and studying take priority if I want to stay in school with half decent grades. That’s not to scare any newcomers though, if you like your program and what you’re studying then it will definitely feel like it’s worth it.

There are three main types of classes you will attend in university: Lectures, tutorials and labs.

Origami During Class

Origami During Class

Lectures are the main classes you will go to. You learn everything in lectures. Even though I don’t necessarily like the amount of work we get each week (about 4 assignments due a week) my lectures are actually really enjoyable. Lectures are the classes in which you actually get to learn new material in. Your profs go up there in front of the whole class and teach new material. That is not to say that all your classmates will enjoy it though all the time. Sometimes in lectures that are going particularly slow or are just at unfortunate times during the week (monday mornings especially), some people around me will start to doze off. Thankfully I haven’t had the need to take a nap during any of my classes. Instead, me and my friends sometimes make post-it note origami.

Tutorials are shorter than lectures, and are mainly run by the teaching assistants (TAs). During my tutorials we normally hand in our assignments, take up practice questions, work on small weekly quizzes, and/or go over questions from the last assignment depending on the course. This is not a time for learning new things, but for reinforcing information that you’ve already been taught during lectures. So far these have been helpful because they are done in much smaller groups, so if you have a question then you wouldn’t feel as awkward asking as opposed to in a large lecture hall. Otherwise they’re pretty much study periods where you learn how to apply your knowledge.

Last but not least, labs. The only labs we have had so far are for linear circuits every two weeks. These are like hands on assignments where you work with on a breadboard to create different circuits to see the outputs of different components. They are two hours long, so unless you really have no idea what you are doing and don’t want to ask for help, then it’s plenty of time (so far in 1A) to get your work done in a reasonable amount of time. For labs though you have to do a prelab, lab observations and report for each one. Funfunfun.

Whichever is your favourite, you’re bound to have a good spread of lectures, tutorials and labs. It’s up to you to stick with it.

Wish you all the best,

1A Computer Engineering
University of Waterloo

Staying Up To Date

For the actual and useful information, skip to the next headline. 

So there I was, one fateful day, pondering about my future classes at the University of Waterloo. How on Earth was I supposed to keep track of all of these courses and assignments and tests that are going to arise in the near future? Surely I wouldn’t be able to remember all of the dates and keep track of my progress without going crazy! As I sat pondering while petting my cat, Rollo, one of the greatest ideas that I have thought of (so far) came to my head. Why not just use the calendar app on my phone?

Alright, alright, I’m no genius. I admit. This isn’t a super cool new idea that I just made up. But that doesn’t stop it from being useful and convenient for new students like me and so many others just starting a new year of university. Just imagine the scenario: You get to your first class on your first day of school, all is going well. You love your class, meet some new people, hopefully don’t get any homework or assignments on the first day of school, and then class ends. First class, check! Where to now? Oh no! You gasp! You forgot your schedule already! So what do you do? What else, other than pull out your phone to quickly check your calendar app to see what class you have next and where you’re supposed to go!

First though, you need to get your schedule on your phone. Here’s how:

Preparing Ahead Using Your Calendar App

The process of putting your schedule on your phone may be different for all, but it basically has the same principles. Get your schedule, convert it to a readable format for your phone, and sync it with your phone. There are some apps to do this automatically for you, but here is a way that I have found useful when trying to put my class schedule AND orientation week schedule on my Z10 Blackberry. I do not guarantee that this is the process for all phones. If you have any questions regarding other phones, ask away! I would be glad to help you through the process in case you have a different phone. Note: This method uses Google to sync up the calendar to your phone. This will ensure that your calendar is backed up and so that you can choose different colours if you wish for the appointments on your phone to differentiate between your personal appointments and your schedule. Make sure to have a Google account first and WiFi to be able to sync your calendar to Google at least once!

  1. Access your schedule on Quest. This is as easy as it sounds. Log into Quest and under the Academics heading, click Enroll. There you will see your schedule for Fall 2013. Do not click anywhere else! Stay on the page.
  2. Use the Quest Schedule Exporter to export your calendar from Quest onto your desktop. Make sure to follow all the steps that are provided for you on the website. Make sure that your schedule is in List View! I can’t stress this enough. I have frustrated myself to no end when I automatically switched it to Calendar View and didn’t know why it wasn’t working.
  3. Make sure you can find the file you just exported. Obvious as it may be, you cannot do anything if you don’t know where you downloaded it to. Find it!
  4. Go to your Google Calendar and create a new calendar. First, you may want to Create a New Calendar, so you click on the arrow beside My Calendars and create a new calendar. You may want to call it something like “<Your Program Name> – 1A” so you can keep track of what it’s for.
  5. Import the file into the calendar you just created. In the same menu that had the Create a Calendar option, you go to Settings and click on Import Calendar in the settings page. Choose the file that you saved on your computer before, choose the calendar you just created, and voila! Your courses should now show up on Google!
  6. As a precaution, make sure you are syncing the right calendars with your mobile device. Just make sure that the right calendars are checked off that you wish to sync to your mobile device. Easy step here.
  7. Add your Google account to your phone in the settings. On your phone go to Settings -> Accounts and set up your email, checking off the option to sync the calendar too. You may also choose not to sync up your email if you don’t want to. Totally up to you.
  8. Turn on WiFi and wait for you phone and Google Calendar to sync up, and voila! You are finished, congrats.

If you have any questions, concerns, or just want to know extra features or tips, let me know! Post a comment, email me, or contact me in some way so I get to hear your thoughts. I would also like to point out differences between syncing up the calendar between Blackberries vs. other devices, but considering that I do not have any other phones I would love to hear your input about how you would go about doing it!

For the record, by the way, the calendar on my phone has been such a huge help in keeping track of my time and knowing where/when my classes are quickly and easily. All I need to do is take out my phone, press one button, and I can easily see that I will have a class in 15 minutes in RCH 301 for example. Don’t underestimate the use of technology these days. Embrace it, learn it, love it. 

1A Computer Engineering
University of Waterloo

Computer Engineering, Software Engineering, or Computer Science?

Choosing exactly the right program for yourself is hard work, we’ve all been there. At times this may even be a little overwhelming due to all the different choices. Not only do you have to choose a faculty, but you have to nitpick exactly which program you think you will enjoy the most out of a couple very similar looking ones. I have encountered this too when I was choosing my program because computer engineering, software engineering, and computer science all looked like great options for me. But which one was I supposed to choose? What was I supposed to base it off of? The best thing to consider when choosing between programs is the courses that you will be taking in the program.

You will see that each program offers a different set of courses that are prerequisites and also courses that you are able to take to specialize in a certain area. You will see the main differences between these three programs in the courses that you are able to take. Consider also which courses you have enjoyed in high school. Did you like math? Computer science? Robotics? Physics? All of these? None of these? Ask yourself which one was your most and least favourite, and why.

Check out the courses in the later years too to get a better understanding of what awaits you, because the first year only provides a good basis for your later years, and then moves into more specialized courses.

Computer Engineering

Computer Engineering teaches you about both the hardware and software aspects of computers, and so is a good program to take if you would like a more general understanding of computers. In contrast to the other two programs, Computer Engineering is focused more on the designing and developing of computer systems and how the software interacts with the hardware. So you will be learning about circuits, logic gates, physics, but also programming and Computer Engineering is a lot more hands on too. If you want to learn about how computers work and also learn about programming, then take Computer Engineering. Click here for more information on computer engineering.

1A:CHE 102 – Chemistry
ECE 100A – Electrical and Computer Eng Practice
ECE 105 – Physics ECE 140 – Linear Circuits
ECE 150 – Fundamentals of Programming
MATH 117 – Calculus
 1B: ECE 100B – Electrical and Computer Eng Practice
ECE 103 – Discrete Mathematics
ECE 106 – Physics
ECE 124 – Digital Circuits and Systems
ECE 155 – Engineering Design with Embedded Systems
MATH 119 – Calculus

Software Engineering

Software Engineering basically takes Computer Science and combines it with Engineering. It focuses more on the application than theory in comparison with Computer Science, but it still contains science courses due to being offered by the Engineering department. The main focus though is software development and building and maintaining software systems. Software Engineering is a lot less focused on the hardware than Computer Engineering, but in comparison to Computer Science it is more applied and provides a greater emphasis on the developmental process to ensure that programs work as they should and are safe. If you like programming and would like to take more of a hands on approach to it, take Software Engineering. Click here for more information on software engineering.

1A:CS 137 – Programming Principles
ECE 105 – Physics
ECE 140 – Linear Circuits
MATH 115 – Linear Algebra
MATH 117 – Calculus
SE 101 – Introduction to Methods
 1B: SE 102 – Seminar
CS 138 – Intro to Data Abstraction and Implementation
ECE 106 – Physics
ECE 124 – Digital Circuits and Systems
MATH 119 – Calculus
MATH 135 – Algebra for Honours Mathematics

Computer Science

Computer Science is offered by the Faculty of Mathematics as opposed to the other two, and so it involves more math courses and is more theoretical than the engineering programs. This means no courses on circuits or physics, but more on programming and the theory behind it. This means a lot more math. Be prepared. Computer Science does not have courses on circuitry or how the hardware systems work, and has less practical and hands on learning of programming than Software Engineering. So in general, if you like to know more about the algorithms and ideas behind programming, take Computer Science. Click here for more information on Computer Science.

1A:MATH 135 – Algebra for Honours Mathematics
MATH 137 – Calculus 1 for Honours Mathematics
CS 135 – Designing Functional Programs
+ Additional courses of your choice
 1B:MATH 136 – Linear Algebra 1 for Honours Mathematics
MATH 138 – Calculus 2 for Honours Mathematics
CS 136 – Elementary Algorithm Design and Data Abstraction
+ Additional courses of your choice

In general, these three programs are quite similar in that you will be learning about computers, but they have different specializations. In these programs you will also be able to choose even more specialized courses depending on what you want to learn about the most. To reiterate, Computer Engineering is based on the hardware and software, Computer Science is based more on the algorithms and theory behind programming, and Software Engineering is a mix of both, teaching the applications of programming while still having a basic science background.

One last thing to note is the access to coop. No matter which program you choose, coop is a great idea because it’ll give you a chance to get experience and meet employers before you even leave school. You will learn about your job opportunities and how to work in a professional environment. Not only do you get awesome experience, you also earn money to start funding your university before you even finish! How great would it be if you could graduate with little to no debt, right? All three of these programs offer coop for their students, so I advise you to go for it!

Good luck, and don’t stress out too much! :)

1A Computer Engineering
University of Waterloo

Introducing the Authors

You may be wondering what this blog is all about, and since this is the first post I will explain while keeping it short. I, Marieta, along with a friend of mine, Celina, will be one of the first year bloggers in the 2013/2014 year at the University of Waterloo, representing the Engineering department. Both Celina and I have been accepted to be one of the many new first year students coming into the Electrical and Computer Engineering programs, respectively, and we’re excited to tell you all about our experiences!

Not only will we talk about what our programs are like and how we like our classes, our topics will range from residences choices to course material, from all the great clubs at UW to the campus plaza’s selection of food. We will talk about anything and everything that we encounter in our first year at the University of Waterloo to show others, such as you, what it’s like to come be a student at this university.

More blogs will be expected shortly, as the beginning of our first year at university is only a short time away (only a month!). Celina and I are both very excited and hope to keep you guys posted soon. :)

1A Computer Engineering
University of Waterloo