Females in Engineering

After blogging, doing Engineering tours, and attending Fall Open House, I have noticed that many people are curious to know the female enrollment stats in the Faculty of Engineering for many reasons. Whatever the reason may be, here are some of the stats I have found and some thoughts on being a female in Engineering.

The Faculty Statistics page on the uWaterloo Engineering webpage currently show some of the stats from 2012. Keep in mind that these statistics do not include Architecture. The stats show that 18.5% of all Engineering undergrad students were female and 22.3% of all Engineering graduate students were female. There were 36 professors who were female, which means 13.4% of all Engineering professors were femaleThat includes our lovely Dean of Engineering, Pearl Sullivan who also once served as chair of the Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering Department. She is the first female Dean of Engineering at the University of Waterloo.

As a student who may be interested in entering the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Waterloo, you’re probably curious to know the stats specific to first-year students. Well in 2012, it looked like this:



You can see in the table that it really depends on what engineering program you’re in and of course, it varies each year. Perhaps this is a surprise, but I’ve heard that uWaterloo has the largest percentage of females in engineering in Canada. I think that’s great! Being in the work force now, I can tell you that there are very few female engineers but we definitely exist! I personally work with just male engineers, but I know some bigger teams have a couple of female engineers.

I don’t personally think too much about the female to male ratio in engineering. In my opinion, it’s all about doing what you love. At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter as long as you are happy with what you are doing and you are getting along with your team.

What are your thoughts on women in engineering? Did you expect more or less of us? Do you think we need more female engineers?

1A Electrical Engineering
University of Waterloo


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

Fall Open House 2013

This year, Fall Open House will be on Saturday, November 2, 2013 from 10AM to 4PM. You and your family can head over to uWaterloo to meet with professors, staff, and students to see if uWaterloo is right for you! You will have the opportunity to look at the campus and learn more about the faculty and department you are interested in.

I will be at RCH for the Engineering specific activities, representing Electrical Engineering, so feel free to come over and say hi if you see me!

If you are interested in attending, make sure you register here so we can plan for your arrival. Too far to attend? There will be online chats as well on the day of Fall Open House. Keep checking back for more online chat updates if you’re too far to come over to the campus to attend events.

Another reminder, if you’re able to, I highly recommend arranging a Shadow Day with one of our Engineering Ambassadors. If you’re interested in Electrical Engineering, feel free to request me as your tour guide for the day!

Looking forward to meeting some of you soon!

1A Electrical 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

UW Engineering Shadow Program

For those of you who are considering UW Engineering, have you heard about the UW Engineering Shadow Program? It is handled by the Engineering Student Ambassadors Team and we would love to spend a day with you for you to experience a day at the University of Waterloo as an Engineering student.

The days available are typically from 8:30AM to 4:30PM from Mondays to Fridays. There are students available from all engineering programs and you may request a specific ambassador although it will depend on the ambassador’s availability. You can find the profiles of our ambassadors here.

Shadow days for the Fall term (September-December) are reserved for grade 12 students only. Starting in the Winter term through Spring/Summer (January-July), shadow days will be available to grade 11 and 12 students.

If you are interested, definitely register now. It will be a great experience!

Celina Chan
1A Electrical 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