Introducing Biomedical Engineering at uWaterloo

Starting Fall 2014, Biomedical Engineering will be the 14th engineering program available at the University of Waterloo! Currently, the program will be accepting an initial class of 45 students.

Just like any other Engineering program at uWaterloo, Biomedical Engineering will be a co-op only program but unlike the others, it will be an 8-stream co-op program with a unique 8-month co-op term between the 3rd and 4th year. Admission requirements are the same as the other Engineering programs and it is anticipated that individual selection will be from the high 80s. Biology is not an admission requirement, although it is probably recommended.

Personally, I think it’s an incredibly interesting program and there is definitely a demand for Biomedical Engineers these days. My best friend is currently studying Engineering Sciences at U of T, focusing on Biomedical Engineering. She says it’s a tough program but there is so much to learn and it’s all very interesting to her. I’m sure if you’re interested in Biomedical Engineering, you will love the challenge the program will be here at uWaterloo.

If you’re looking for a bit more information on Biomedical Engineering, check out Prof. Anderson’s post here and keep up with his blog for details coming up soon. Of course, the link to the main page on Biomedical Engineering is here and here is some additional information on entrance requirements.

Good luck on your applications and don’t forget to keep the questions coming!

1A Electrical Engineering
University of Waterloo


FOH 2013 in Review + FAQs

Fall Open House was worth the 6:30AM wake-up. I walked over to RCH by 7AM and got through the day that ended at around 4:30PM. Worth it.

You know what made it great and completely worth it? The people. There were students, parents, professors, and staff going through RCH the whole day and everyone had a different story to share. Everyone had questions to ask, and questions to answer. There was a lot of purple and uWaterloo Engineering pride going around. It was great.

My favourite part of the day was hanging out by the ECE booth on the third floor of RCH talking to prospective students and their parents. I love to help people and I loved sharing my knowledge and stories that day. It was such a fast-paced environment with so much interest in uWaterloo Engineering in the air

Throughout the day, I noticed some questions that were repeatedly asked so I thought I would share my answers to those questions.

1. What is the difference between Software and Computer Engineering?
Software is more strictly software-based while Computer is a mix of software and hardware, to quickly put it. Software is actually partly run by the Engineering faculty’s ECE (Electrical and Computer Engineering) program and Math faculty so you’ll get a good mix of courses from both faculities. Marieta has written an excellent post on the difference between Software Eng, Comp Eng, and Comp Sci so check it out!

2. How about the differences between Computer and Electrical Engineering?
Computer has more software mixed into the hardware and Electrical is more hardware-based. I’m all over the hardware which is why I chose Electrical Engineering. A good thing to note, for the first three terms (1A, 1B, and 2A), the Comp Eng and Electrical Eng students take all the same courses together so you can switch between the two programs quite easily before your 2B term.

3. What average do I need to get into a uWaterloo Engineering program?
Ahh, admission averages. This question is when I tell people that good grades don’t guarantee you a spot in the engineering program you apply for. Do the AIF and do it well. While grades do matter, the AIF is incredibly important because it tells the university what you will bring to the program to succeed. A chart of the admission averages and likelihood of being accepted with that average is posted hereIt can also vary slightly from year to year based on how competitive that year is but usually a 90%+ average will give you a pretty good chance of getting into the program.

4. What is co-op, do I have to do it, and what if I don’t get a job?
The co-op program allows students to alternate between study and work terms to get paid, practical and relevant, hands-on experience in the engineering world. Yes, it is mandatory for all engineering programs and it will get you up to two full years of relevant experience; this increases your chances of getting employed after you graduate which is great! You need to complete 5 out of 6 co-op terms and the employment rate is up in the high 90s so you will very likely get a job each term. The first work term is usually the hardest to get but from then on, it usually isn’t a problem. Don’t worry about it!

5. I don’t have programming experience. Is that bad?
I don’t want to say that it’s bad but I would definitely highly recommend getting it before you arrive. Plus, it’ll definitely help if you have it and talk about it in your AIF! If your school offers a programming course, take it. There are actually programming experience requirements for Software Engineering applicants which can be found here so make sure you look into that if you’re interested in Software Eng. All engineering students will take at least one programming course so you might as well get a basic understanding of it before heading off to university. I personally recommend Java, C#, or C++ which are taught in various programs and often found as requirements for co-op jobs.

I will be writing a post or two soon with more information on admission requirements, AIF tips, and ways to prepare for Engineering at uWaterloo. Those will hopefully go up within the next couple of weeks as I quickly fall into finals which are coming up way too soon. Anyway, that’s it for now but please keep the questions and comments coming!

1A Electrical Engineering
University of Waterloo

Why uWaterloo & Which Engineering Program?

Personally, I chose the University of Waterloo because of its renowned Faculty of Engineering and its excellent co-op program. Co-op is where study terms alternate with paid work terms to help students gain up to two years of work experience in their career field. Engineering programs are only offered with the co-op program while some other programs give the option to study in either the regular program or co-op program.

There are 13 engineering disciplines offered at the University of Waterloo.

ARCHITECTURE: From day one, you will start learning and designing in your own space at the School of Architecture located in Cambridge, ON. In addition, you will take history and environmental courses to further examine the close connections between architecture and society. Your first co-op term starts in your second year and in your fourth year, you will study at the studio in Rome.

CHEMICAL ENGINEERING: Learn to transform raw materials into useful products in a variety of industries from pharmaceuticals to environmental to mining to food processing, just to name a few. You will have the opportunity to specialize in areas such as biomedical or biotechnology.

CIVIL ENGINEERING: Learn to design, construct, and manage city infrastructure, buildings, and transportation systems. You will have the access to high-tech simulation labs to learn how engineers test risks before physically starting a project.

COMPUTER ENGINEERING: The program that draws Waterloo’s strengths in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science together for you to gain experience in all aspects of computers. You will study with Electrical Engineering students in most of your first two years under the ECE program.

ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING: Learn how to create and improve upon much of today’s technology from satellite communication to computers to energy distribution. You will study with Computer Engineers for most of your first two years under the ECE program.

ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING: You will focus on environmental issues such as water management and biotechnology. You will take courses from the Engineering faculty as well as the Environment and Science faculty.

GEOLOGICAL ENGINEERING: This is the program for those who love going outside and getting their hand dirty. There are only 15 to 20 students in first year so you’ll get to work closely with your classmates and professors. The program is offered jointly by the Civil Engineering and Earth Sciences departments.

MANAGEMENT ENGINEERING: You learn to become a leader in business with the technical skills of engineers and ability to manage people and projects. You will specialize in information technologies, management of technology, and operations research/supply chain management.

MECHANICAL ENGINEERING: From robots to motors to pumps, you’ll be working with and designing machines that move. You will work in industries that do manufacturing, robotics, aerospace, or biotechnology.

MECHATRONICS ENGINEERING: Combine mechanical engineering, electronics, control engineering, and computer science to create various systems that are mechanical in nature but function with electrical and computer control systems.

NANOTECHNOLOGY ENGINEERING: The program is an application of ideas from chem, quantum physics, biology, and electronics. You’ll have access to the QNC which offers amazing lab space for hands-on experience.

SOFTWARE ENGINEERING: In addition to mathematics, engineering, and comp sci, you’ll learn about software development process, project management, and technical documentation. The program is offered jointly by the Faculty of Engineering and Faculty of Mathematics.

SYSTEM DESIGN ENGINEERING: This is an interesting program because it is a rather flexible engineering program, relatively speak. You will apply engineering principles to environmental systems, robotics, and computer and interface design to connect humans with technology.

These are just very brief summaries of the 13 engineering programs offered at the University of Waterloo. There are more details available on the UW website. Professor Bill Anderson, a UW Chemical Engineering prof also shares his thoughts on the programs here.

Regardless of whether you’ve decided on a program yet or not, I recommend that you take this quick quiz designed by a Management Engineering student to see if your choice matches up with the results. It’s not 100% accurate, of course and don’t let it affect your original choice too much because if you’re passionate about something, you’ll likely be able to succeed with a little bit of work and talent. I found that this quiz was helpful when it came down to selecting my alternatives in my AIF. My results were Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Mechatronics Engineering and I selected those three programs in my application; in the end, I went with Electrical Engineering and I feel like it was the right choice.

Feel free to ask questions about the programs and application process. I will try to answer the best I can but stay tuned for more details on some of the programs and what the application process is like. Good luck!

1A Electrical Engineering
University of Waterloo