Three engineering subjects rank in the world’s top 100 | Engineering | University of Waterloo

See the link below for the full story, but nice to see my department (Chemical Engineering) ranked in the top 100 worldwide.  The two others are Electrical Engineering (49th) and Civil Engineering (51 to 100 range).  Mechanical Engineering ranked in the top 150.

Waterloo Engineering notched three top-100 results in the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) worldwide university subject rankings released today for 2019.

Source: Three engineering subjects rank in the world’s top 100 | Engineering | University of Waterloo

Application Trends and Other Stuff

The admissions work is now at full speed with most applications submitted by now.  Before I review some trends, a few important suggestions:

  1. For those within reasonable travel distance, our March Break Open House occurs on March 10 2018.  Highly recommended if you haven’t been on campus before.  Also a good time to visit if you’re not in Grade 12 but are thinking ahead to future years.
  2. Our “Quest” system will be down for a significant software upgrade from February 16 to 22.  Applicants won’t be able to work on submitting their AIF during this period.  (also, when finished with your AIF don’t forget to click on “submit”.  “Save” is not sufficient, and we won’t be able to review it.)

As far as application trends go, the numbers are up again this year to just over 13,000 for about 1,675 spaces in Engineering.  An increase of about 1,500.

Applications for the Canadian spaces (about 1,450 available) are up about 10% overall to around 8,700.  Some programs have a bit stronger increases, like Biomedical, Computer, and Systems Design.  Nothing too unexpected however, just the normal fluctuations we get from year to year.  I can’t go into details about specific program numbers, but generally there are 5 to 10 applicants per available space.

The bigger surprise is the applications for our non-Canadian spaces (about 220 available).  These are up around 25% to well over 4,000.  This seems to be the case across the whole university as well as many other Ontario universities.  The theory among admissions and recruiting people is that recent political turmoil in the U.S. and U.K. have driven applicants to seek education in other English-speaking countries like Canada.  I’ve seen articles about dramatic drops in foreign student applications to U.S. colleges, so the theory seems to make some sense.

We’ve added extra staff to handle the additional volume.  It will definitely be challenging again this year to select the few applicants from among so many good ones.

Common American Questions

After attending some U.S. STEM college fairs and talking to lots of students and families, I’ve noticed that there are some common themes and questions that come up.  For all those who we weren’t able to meet, maybe it’s worthwhile summarising them here with our responses (as usual, these are specific to engineering, and it’s not just Americans that ask these questions). Continue reading

Recent US College Fair and Outreach Activities

For 11 days in October we traveled across the U.S. to attend the NACAC College STEM Fairs in Santa Clara CA and New York city.   These were very good events, and we had the opportunity to meet a lot of high school students and families.  Some had heard of Waterloo, but many others had never considered the idea and potential benefits of studying in Canada.  So we had some good conversations, especially around the concept of Waterloo engineering’s co-operative education system, alternating study with up to 6 paid work opportunities.   It looked like very few (if any) schools sent faculty to these fairs, but I thought it was worthwhile for me to be there because I could discuss the program content in depth, as well as more general thoughts on engineering education and career paths.

In addition to attending the college fairs, we also did some outreach workshop activities.  Waterloo has a long history of outreach educational activities, especially through our Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing  (CEMC) who do mathematics classes and workshops in a wide variety of schools and locations.    Borrowing from their ideas, I created several engineering design workshops based on case studies from our Waterloo Cases in Design Engineering group, headed by Prof. Lambert.  With some adaptation for high school level and time limitations, we cover some math, physics and/or chemistry, and spend some time having the students come up with preliminary design ideas for a rocket, or rainwater harvester system, or some industrial equipment.  These are all based on things our own students have done during workterm employment, and it is meant to be an introduction to engineering design concepts and different approaches to problem-solving.

During our trip we engaged with about 7 classes in several schools, including Design Tech High School in San Mateo, Harker School in San Jose, Léman Manhattan Preparatory School in New York, and the United Nations International School in New York.  Although there was interest from other schools, we couldn’t squeeze in any other schools in our limited timelines this year.

We also had a very nice evening event held at Bellarmine College Preparatory school in San Jose.  A number of prospective students and families were able to meet some of our engineering and mathematics alumni and a few of the hundreds of co-op students currently working in the Silicon Valley area.  (Many thanks to our alumni and students for volunteering their time to attend!)

Finally, we had a couple of good meetings with quite a few independent college counselors to explain about Waterloo and co-operative education.  In Canada, such people are rare but in the U.S. they are more commonly employed by families to help them sort through the myriad of possible options for college.  It was an opportunity for us to explain what type of student and background might be the best fit, and to explain more about the Canadian admissions process and timelines.  For example, in the U.S. the application deadline is often November 1, but our engineering applications are open until February 1, so there is still lots of time for applicants in the U.S. to look into Waterloo or other Canadian schools.

We will be returning to the Houston area in early November for the last NACAC Stem Fair, after which we’ll return to Waterloo to start ramping up the admissions process for 2018.

 

Open House, New York and San Francisco

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 assoc.dir.admissions.eng@uwaterloo.ca 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.

Heading to Houston

New this year, NACAC (National Association for College Admission Counseling) is hosting three college fairs dedicated to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).  The first one is in Houston, Texas on Sunday September 25 2016 (for details click here).  We’ll be attending to represent Waterloo Engineering and the other STEM programs.  I see from the exhibitor list that our friends from the Universities of Toronto and Calgary are attending too, so there will be a bit of a Canadian contingent.

Why visit the U.S. and promote our programs?  It’s true that we only have about 200 spaces in Engineering for non-Canadians, and several thousand applicants for those spaces, so the competition for admission is fierce.  But we’re interested in having a diversity of applicants and finding the best from around the world.  Also, over 1,000 of our student co-op work terms (i.e. paid internships) each year are now in U.S. companies.  So it seems to make sense to start reaching out to potential applicants there using these NACAC STEM fairs as a starting point.

We look forward to meeting anyone from around the Houston area at the fair.  Also, if there are interested people there who can’t attend the fair we’ll be available the following day, Monday September 26, for personal or small group meetings.  Just email us at assoc.dir.admissions.eng@uwaterloo.ca to get details and set up an appointment.

 

Round 1 2016

Over the last couple of weeks we’ve finished our first round of engineering offers, and they should be all posted on Quest by now.  As mentioned in other places, we aimed to fill around 25% of our spaces at this point, and the rest of the offers will be processed in early May.  In the meantime, we’re waiting for the Ontario second semester grades to come in April, and we continue processing the transcripts and documents sent in by the other applicants (Form 105 applicants).

With the increase in application numbers, things seemed  a bit more competitive again this year.  But it will be impossible to quantify that until everything is over in May, so I can’t really comment any further.

So for those who recently got an offer, congratulations.  Make sure you think carefully about the program, and whether Waterloo is a good fit for you.  Maybe try to attend our open house on March 19, or come for a visit some other day.

For the 10,000+ people who didn’t get an offer, make sure your AIF (and any other required documents) are submitted, and just sit tight.  We’ll have the rest of the decisions in early May. (note, for the AIF make sure it’s “submitted” and not just “saved” on Quest.)