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 here. It 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