For the sixth year, I’ve been helping organize the “Resource Recovery Partnership” conference in collaboration with industry, government, and academic colleagues. This year’s event is on Thursday September 19, 2019, and registration is free for either in-person or webcast attendance. The final agenda is available, and anyone interested in the ideas behind sustainable materials, recycling, circular economy, zero waste, or materials and energy recovery might want to attend some of the webcast sessions. There are a range of speakers and panelists covering various aspects of policy development, technologies, and current statistics and trends. The talks are not highly technical, and anyone could benefit from some of the insights available here.
As our landfills (and oceans) fill with wastes, it has become clear to most people that solutions are needed to reduce wastes and to recover some value from the remaining waste materials. This is easier said than done, and requires a comprehensive approach incorporating technology, smart policies, economic drivers, and societal buy-in. These conferences have tried to bring together people from a wide range of backgrounds and interests, to try to advance progress in waste reduction. It’s a long and slow progress, but momentum seems to be building around the globe.
When people hear the name Xerox, they may not immediately think of chemical process engineering. But chemical engineers play a critical role in the development of the advanced materials embedded within Xerox technologies.
I was at a conference and missed the official E7 building opening, but below is a video showing some of the facility highlights. I walk through the building frequently, and I really like the environment. Nice open spaces, well lit, great and vibrant “energy”. There are always people around, talking, having events, and working together in one of the many gathering areas, drawing diagrams on the walls. Definitely seems like a pleasurable place to be.
We will be in Houston, Texas for the NACAC STEM Fair on Sunday November 5 2017. This is the last of this year’s College STEM fair schedule in the U.S., and we’re looking forward to meeting lots more high school students and families. In past fairs I’ve met with a lot of sophomore and junior students who were checking out their options in various fields, and that’s very commendable.
These open houses are a very important opportunity to find out more about different programs, curricula, co-op, career paths and various other aspects. As I’ve noted before, you want to go into a program for all the right reasons and this is a chance to gather information and formulate those reasons.
It doesn’t even have to be Waterloo’s open house! If you want to find out more about mechanical engineering (for example), your local university probably does something similar if Waterloo is too far away. Educationally, most accredited engineering programs across North America have similar course content within the same discipline, so what you find out about Chemical Engineering education and careers at Ryerson University will be more or less similar for the universities of Waterloo, Toronto, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, British Columbia, etc.
At Waterloo (or anywhere else), some of the best people to talk to are the students. They will give you their impressions about the program, examples of what they are doing or have done on co-op or internships, and information about student life. Talk to more than one student however, since everyone has a different experience, background, and perspective. Staff and faculty are good to talk to also, of course, since they can give a broader overview of things and have a longer-term connection with the program and its evolution.
A crowd around the Engineering area of Waterloo’s booth.
As usual, the Ontario Universities Fair was a busy place last weekend as high school students and families talked to people from all the universities in Ontario gathered in the Toronto Convention Centre. Here is a photo I snapped while taking a quick break from the crowd. We had dozens of faculty, staff and current students there to answer questions about our programs. There are always some common questions, so here are some of them with a quick answer. Continue reading →
One of our most valuable resources for finding out about an engineering education and co-op work experiences is our students. We have quite a few volunteer Engineering Ambassadors who attend open houses, do tours and the Shadow Program, and are generally enthusiastic about sharing their experiences at Waterloo, both good and bad.
Our annual March Break Open House (March 18, 2017) is one opportunity to meet them, but there are lots of applicants who can’t attend for scheduling reasons or due to long distances. So new this year, the Ambassadors have launched EngChat, where you can sign up to meet online (Skype) and have a discussion about Waterloo with a current student. I’m looking forward to hearing how this goes, but it seems like a good and valuable resource for applicants (and perhaps their parents too).
For those who can’t visit campus, another useful resource is the Engineering Virtual tour below. It gives a nice overview of various places on campus (although I note that it doesn’t show any scenes from winter, which is a pretty time of year in its own way!).
Our annual Fall Open House at Waterloo is coming up on November 5 2016, and more details are available here. It’s a good opportunity for students in Grades 11 and 12 (and even younger) to have a look around, see displays, and talk to current students to find out what might be of interest in Engineering or other programs.
This year I’ll have to miss the Open House, since we’re travelling to New York and San Francisco to attend the NACAC STEM College Fairs on October 29 (NY) and November 6 (SF). Here’s a video about the one we attended in Houston in September (https://vimeo.com/184338009) which went very well. We’re looking forward to meeting some of our prospective applicants at these fairs. If anyone is in the NY or SF area and can’t make it to a fair but wants to meet and learn more about Waterloo, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will try to set up something.
Also in NYC, we’ll be at a Waterloo event hosted by our friends at the company Venmo, who employ our alumni and co-op students. This mixer event is for New York area Waterloo alumni, co-op students, and prospective students & their families too. Space is limited, so if you’d like to attend and talk to various people about Waterloo you can get tickets at this link.
We’ll also be visiting a few select schools in NY and SF, where I’ll give some short lectures on math, physics and/or chemistry topics, and Engineering design examples.
It’s that time of year when senior, final-year students complete and present their “capstone design projects”. These are group design projects, usually based on industry problems or student innovation ideas. The projects are meant to be completely open-ended (i.e. there is no obvious, single, correct solution) and require students to pull together concepts from a variety of topics they have learned over the years. The projects are not assigned, it is up to the student groups to come up with ideas, either on their own or through faculty or industry connections. This is where co-op education really helps, because most of our students already have pretty good ideas based on what they have seen in their 2 years of work experience during university.
The design project results are presented in “Design Symposia” for each program, and there is a website which lists the dates in mid to late March. These are open to the public, so anyone can drop by and see what’s up. By clicking on each program, you can also find a brief description about each project. For example, here is a list of projects in my department, Chemical Engineering. I highly recommend that high school applicants and future prospects take a look at all these program listings. These are the best source of information on all the different types of things that students can do, and the wide range may surprise you. For example, many people think that Chemical Engineering is just about oil & gas, but when you look at the list you’ll see electric vehicle batteries, rooftop greenhouse design, biodegradable orthopedic implants, and controlled release antibiotics, among many other things. Anything that involves materials and energy transformations is a possible chemical engineering project.
I like looking at the Management Engineering projects too. These projects nicely emphasize that Management Engineering is not a business program (a frequent misconception with some applicants), but it is an engineering program full of math, statistical and data analysis, and optimization. The project on “Reducing Distribution Costs for Canadian Blood Services” looks quite interesting to me (stochastic modelling is always interesting!).
I haven’t had a chance to look through all the different programs and their projects yet, but I’m sure a few will soon end up as start-up companies, if they haven’t already. These capstone design projects have probably been the biggest single source of Waterloo start-ups in the last decade, I suspect. There are now quite a few sources of financial support and design awards for the most innovative of these projects, as listed on the webpage, together with the support offered through the Velocity entrepreneurship and Conrad BET Centre programs, and others.