FAQs - Potential Students

After reviewing the questions and answers below, if you still have questions please direct all inquiries to: archeng@uwaterloo.ca.

Program questions

What is the difference between Architectural Engineering and Architecture?

The Architectural Engineering program will be an accredited engineering program, so graduates will be able to start working towards P.Eng status. Course content-wise, the program is actually closer to Civil Engineering than Architecture. Courses will cover content on mechanics, structural analysis and structural design, as well as heavy math content in the first two years. Architectural Engineering graduates will have a better understanding of the science and engineering behind good building design — not just the structural aspects, but also energy efficiency, sustainable building design and smart/green building design. Architectural Engineering only covers enough about the aesthetic aspects of building design to be able to communicate intelligently with architects in their own language on this subject. In Architecture, these aesthetic aspects are a much greater focus.

What is the difference between Architectural Engineering and Civil Engineering?

The Architectural Engineering program will focus heavily on building design. In contrast, Civil Engineering is a more general field with more breadth. The Civil Engineering curriculum includes design of all large municipal infrastructure components. Students in both programs will take courses in structural analysis and design (i.e. how to determine forces in structures and size their members, connections, etc.). Architectural Engineering students will also take courses on building science and systems, such as HVAC, in the place of courses that Civil Engineering students take on transportation networks, water distribution systems, geotechnical engineering and more. Architectural Engineering students will be able to work for design consulting firms specializing in the design, construction, renovation and rehabilitation of buildings. Civil Engineers are more likely to get jobs with municipalities, provincial highway authorities and construction companies. There is certainly some overlap between these programs. However, the Architectural Engineering program has been developed to address highly specified issues particular to building construction.

Does the level of design work vary between Architectural Engineering, Architecture and Civil?

Design has a very different meaning to engineers than it does to architects. There is not more or less in one program or the other — just different kinds of design. In comparison to our Civil Engineering program, Architectural Engineering includes more design and introduces design concepts much earlier on in the program. It can be said that the design in Architectural Engineering includes making decisions in addition to making calculations. This decision making component is unique to the program and helps Architectural Engineering students address open-ended design problems.

How is the learning style of Architectural Engineering different than Architecture or Civil Engineering?

The main differences between Civil and Architectural Engineering in terms of learning style, are the studio streams in Architectural Engineering. Students will take a “studio” course every term, which will involve projects, model building and synthesis of knowledge from the previous and concurrent courses. The Architectural Engineering students will have a desk in a studio, which will be their home for the entire term. This is similar to what Architecture students currently have. Architectural Engineering students will also do their 3A and 3B terms at the School of Architecture in Cambridge, where they will interact and eventually work on collaborative projects with Architecture students. In other respects, the program is very much an engineering undergraduate program. It is different from Architecture in all the same ways as any other engineering program.

What would make me more suited to Architectural Engineering than Architecture?

If you are strong in math and science, interested in the technical aspects of building performance and design, but relatively weaker in terms of artistic and creative abilities, you would potentially be more suited for the Architectural Engineering program.

What would make me more suited to Architectural Engineering than Civil Engineering?

The skills required by students in these two programs would actually be similar. We expect it would primarily be interest and future career preferences, which would drive you in one direction or the other. In both cases, we want to bring in students who have a passion for the program and field of expertise to which they have been admitted. We would eventually like to use a portfolio to assess this passion level for the Architectural Engineering students, including their creativity and interest in design.

Why was the Architectural Engineering program created? What need does it meet that Civil and Architecture do not currently satisfy?

There is a societal need and industry demand for experts who can design better buildings and can more effectively manage our existing, aging buildings. Much of the required expertise falls in the area of building science, which is often treated as an area of secondary importance in the existing Architecture and Civil Engineering programs. The students coming out of this program will also have the ability to address a communication problem in the building construction industry currently, as they will have some expertise and ability to speak the language of both architects, as well as engineers. We expect that Architectural Engineering graduates will become leaders in this industry, with a unique skill set that is well-suited for managing and overseeing building construction, renovation and rehabilitation projects.

What software skills will I learn?

  • 1A - AutoCAD
  • 1B - Rhino
  • 2A - Revit

What studio-related skills will I become familiar with in my first year?

  • 1A
    • hand-sketching basics and isometric drawings
    • physical model building
    • exposure to the design process
    • technical report writing
  • 1B
    • hand and computer drafting
    • working drawings and contract documentation
    • load paths and basic analysis of statically determinate structures
    • common structural systems in buildings

Does Architectural Engineering offer different concentrations?

The Architectural Engineering plan has two specializations recognized by the Faculty of Engineering - Building Structures, and Building Systems.

What are the potential careers graduates of this program can have?

Architectural Engineering students will be particularly well-suited to work in building design consulting firms, of all sizes, that house the various specialists the currently undertake building design under the same roof (i.e. interior designers, architects, structural, mechanical, and electrical engineers). However, they could also work for government public works departments, school boards and hospital authorities responsible for overseeing public building construction and maintenance, private building infrastructure owners (e.g. airport authorities), building construction firms, developers, and more.

Am I eligible to apply for my Professional Engineering License (P.Eng)?

Architectural Engineering and Civil Engineering are both Canadian Engineering Accrediation Board (CEAB) accredited programs that allow you to apply for your P.Eng.

Admissions questions

How does the application process differ between Architectural Engineering, Architecture and Civil Engineering?

Students applying to Architectural Engineering and Civil Engineering will require high school chemistry. Architecture does not have this requirement. Architecture requires the submission of a portfolio, where Architectural Engineering and Civil Engineering do not. The Applicant Information Form (AIF) is not a requirement for Architecture, however it is for Architectural Engineering and Civil Engineering.

For applicants to Architectural Engineering and Civil Engineering, there is also opportunity to complete an optional online interview through the Faculty of Engineering Admissions Office. Evidence of design, creative skills and interests will be considered an asset in Architectural Engineering much more than it would be in Civil Engineering.

Can I make an application to Architectural Engineering and Architecture?

Yes you can. Please note you would have to apply using two choices on your OUAC application form to do this.

If you are looking to apply for Civil Engineering and Architectural Engineering, you are able to apply for one on your primary OUAC application and list the other as an alternate choice on your Admissions Information Form (AIF). We recommend you apply for your first choice on OUAC and your second choice on your AIF.

Am I able to change my first and/or secondary choice to Architectural Engineering? If so, how?

If you are interested in changing your program choice on your OUAC form and applying to the Architectural Engineering program, you may amend your OUAC application as long as the deadline has not passed. If you have already submitted your Admission Information Form and would like to make changes to it, simply log into your QUEST account and make those changes by the AIF deadline.