Last Week of Class Thoughts

I’m feeling overwhelmed so I’m sharing some thoughts to get it all out. After all, this blog is to show everyone what life as a uWaterloo Engineering student is like.

So yes, it is already the last week of class. How did the semester fly by so fast? I remember travelling with my parents near the end of August, feeling excited and nervous about life and uWaterloo soon and then it all happened and I don’t even know what to think now.

My days are long; 8:30AM to 5:20PM on an average day, sometimes an hour shorter or sometimes two hours longer, but I managed. The days actually feel short to me now. When you’re busying working in a tutorial or lab, or learning in a lecture, it’s nothing. I just go through the classes, go home to work, eat dinner, then work some more. Basically, I work about 60% of the day. I don’t ever really stop.

So now we’re about to start finals. I’m terrified of the thought of having to write finals, especially when I’m behind in a couple of classes. Fortunately I’ve managed to catch up for the most part but there will be so much studying to do.

I’m still trying to find a co-op job for January 2014. That’s just additional stress right now. Never would have thought that I would still be unemployed after all the stats they gave us on how high employment rates are. We’re still only 30% employed at the moment. What a terrifying fact.

I’m stressed to say the least right now. It all happens so fast. Unexpected but it’s fine. I’ll pull through.


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

The Youth Link

Attention high school students! A friend of mine in ECE 2018, Blake, created this great website called The Youth Link that I thought I would share with you all to help you find more opportunities and scholarships. Everything posted on the website will help you prepare for university.

If you’re going into Engineering or Computer Science, I highly recommend the Waterloo Mathematics and Computing Contests as well as the FIRST Robotics Competition if they’re available to you where you are. They’re great to put on your AIF! I would also suggest looking under the Exchanges & Trips section of the website as well because if I could go back to high school and do a few more things, I probably would have applied to more exchange programs. They’re great experiences that you may not have as much time for once you’re in university so do it while you can! *Correction: there are over 60 exchange programs in 25 countries available in your 3rd year!

Be sure to spread the word and get your friends to take a look at the website too. There will be more opportunities and scholarships posted soon.

Way to go, Blake! :)

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

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:

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

Pre-Midterm Thoughts

Fifth week of classes. It feels like it has been so much longer than that yet at the same time, it feels like it hasn’t been that long at all. Midterms felt so far away but they have quickly crept up on me and now I almost feel overwhelmed. I don’t really know where to start; there is so much I would like to study but which course do I go for first?

Paying attention in class and checking LEARN multiple times a day really helps. On top of that, I also stay up to date by using my planner to keep track of when things are due. I also colour coded everything because I’m just an organized freak like that.

Extra help sessions have been organized to help students prepare for our upcoming week of midterms AKA Hell Week. Here’s the schedule that I’ve caught so far.
ECE 105: Thursday, October 9 from 7PM – 9PM at the Arts Lecture Hall
ECE 150: Friday, October 11 from 5:30PM – 7:30PM at RCH 302 (specifically for new programmers)
Wednesday, October 16 from 1:30PM – 4:30PM at CPH 1346
CHE 102: Every Tuesday from 11:30AM – 1:20PM at RCH 205

There is also a practice midterm later today (October 9) from 7PM – 9:30PM for those in Section 1 ECE in DC 1350. Check LEARN for the location and time of your practice midterm.

Is it just me or is it kind of difficult to manage assignments and extra study sessions sometimes? By the time I finish all my assignments that are due in the next day or two, it’s usually already 11PM. I guess that’s what happens when you get home at 5:30PM at the earliest every day. At least I’m making sure that I eat enough before I start working.

Time to get back to the studying. Good luck to everyone on your midterms!

1A Electrical Engineering
University of Waterloo