Offers to Ontario engineering programs will probably be wrapping up over the next two to three weeks (mid-May?). Then people have until some date in early June to pick the one they want (see your offer or OUAC for specific deadlines) and put down some sort of deposit. It seems like most people apply to multiple universities and programs these days. In the “old days” you could only apply to 3 in total, but I think the average now is around 5 or 6. I’ve seen some applications in the high 20’s!
So assuming you have 2 or more offers to choose from, how do you decide? Ultimately it’s going to be a very personal decision, but here are a few common factors to consider:
- Program: do you really know what it’s about, and how well it fits your interests, skills and temperament? Ignore your family and friends ideas about the “best” program for the future and jobs. It’s your future.
- Location: is quick and easy travel back home on weekends important to you or necessary for some reasons? Or, are you fine with staying away for weeks and months and connecting by Skype or whatever?
- Costs: some programs are expensive. Some cities are expensive to live in. How do the total costs add up for your budget? Is there an internship or co-op program to help with the costs, and how much does it help?
- Facilities and Extracurriculars: is there something that you really want or need to do, apart from the academic program? Does the university have that opportunity available? Are there clubs or sports opportunities that you are particularly interested in?
- Scholarships: are these important for your budget and affordability? Did you get a really big scholarship spread over 4 years? If so, are there performance conditions, such as maintaining an 80% average? Note that many students have difficulties maintaining these averages, so the scholarship may not really be that reliable for future budgeting purposes.
- Prestige: studies from the US generally show that going to a “prestigious” school has no particular influence on career (with the possible exception of politics). Ignore “prestige” or rankings and go for the place and program that is the best fit for you and your interests. An engaged and interested student will always do well wherever they are, versus a miserable student at a “prestigious” university or program.
- Other? Possibly there are some other factors that are more individual? I can’t think of any more general ones at the moment, but suggestions in the comments are welcomed.
An interesting story from one of our Geological Engineering students…
Seismically monitoring an active volcano in Spain? That’s last thing I thought I was going to do when I first started at the University of Waterloo five years ago! Whenever the choice for a new opportunity crops up, I always ask which option scares me most. And that’s the one I choose. This has been the fundamental question I ask myself every term when choosing a co-op job, and it led me to my recent position as a seismology intern in Europe.
Source: Watching the earth move | Alumni | University of Waterloo
Artificial intelligence, or AI, seems to be the popular topic in media these days, and I have had a number of questions about it from prospective students and families over the past year. The short answer is yes, we do have AI in our Engineering programs. In fact, we have an “Option in Artificial Intelligence” available for students in any engineering program. This is essentially like a “Minor” in the topic, a package of courses related to the field (at Waterloo our terminology is a bit different, so we don’t call it a “minor”). If you complete the package of courses, you’ll have the designation on your transcript and diploma when you graduate.
Although AI seems new and exciting, the roots and development are actually fairly old, having a basis in ancient philosophy and mathematics. Even the more modern versions and applications of AI go back over 50 years to the initial developments in computational machines. One misunderstanding is that AI is all about programming, but it is actually highly mathematical at its core. Programming is just a tool for implementing the math and various algorithms.
Some people may be surprised to know that the mathematical tools and foundations for AI are not even limited to computer science or computer engineering. My colleagues in Chemical Engineering have been using them for decades for various purposes, and here are a few quick examples with links for further information.
Optimization methods are often a part of chemical plant design, scheduling, cost minimization, and various other things like this example on planning electricity generation. The control of complex chemical plant processes has been researched using artificial neural networks, like this simpler example of crude oil desalting. Bayesian inference methods are employed for dealing with the significant uncertainties in chemical processes, even by me many years ago. Kalman filter techniques are used to help us handle the noisy data coming from chemical processes, including this example from biotechnology. And there are lots of other examples, just in Chemical Engineering alone, not even looking at Civil, Mechanical and others (where I know they also use these advanced mathematical techniques).
Just another example of how broad and diverse the engineering fields are, and how concepts and tools are spread and shared across all these disciplines.
Our applications continue to flow in at this time of year. I haven’t seen any detailed information yet, but there are indications that our applicant numbers from outside Ontario are up significantly. We’ll probably know more in a few weeks, but it seems likely that this year certainly won’t be any less competitive than last. With competition for limited spaces, it pays to be strategic about your applications. Continue reading
The University of Waterloo recently approved the launch of a new program in Architectural Engineering for September 2018 (subject to approval by the Ontario Quality Council). We will be looking to take in about 85 students in the fall, and we’re rapidly gearing up space and teaching resources. The official announcement is here, and applications are now open! Here are a few key points about the program and admissions for this coming Fall. Continue reading
One of our messages this year is to encourage engineering applicants to do their “homework” before applying, because we have no general first year. This means carefully reflecting on your strengths and weaknesses, interests, aptitudes, career goals, etc. Then carefully examining our different programs, courses, typical career paths, co-op job examples, etc., and selecting the program which seems to be the right fit. Quite possibly, engineering is not the right fit and you should consider something else. In general, people who put some effort into this process will end up in the right program and do well. Why is this so important? Continue reading
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