Map the System - Frequently Asked Questions

Am I eligible to register?

To participate in Map the System at the University of Waterloo, you must:

  • Have a team of 1 to 5 individuals with at least one team member who is a current student at University of Waterloo or recent graduate (within 12 months)
  • Be interested in learning more about a problem you are passionate about

How do I find teammates?

If you are looking for teammates, reach out to Map the System Campus Lead, Elham by email. Tell Elham about a topic area you are interested in and she can help connect you with others who are seeking teammates.

Should I participate as part of a course or independently?

If you participate as part of a course, you will receive:

  • Support from your instructor
  • Milestones laid out in a syllabus
  • Access to teammates

If you participate independently, you will benefit from:

  • Freedom to work on your own timeline
  • Milestones laid out in a non-course syllabus

*No matter how you choose to participate, you will have access to support from Map the System Campus Lead, Elham and resources online.

Which courses integrate Map the System at UWaterloo in 2022/23?

Course Code

Course Name


SYDE 362

System Design Methods 2: Testing, Verification, and Validation

Matthew Borland

INTEG 441/641

Hard Decisions and Wicked Problems

Vanessa Schweizer

SYDE 532

Introduction to Complex Systems

Paul Fieguth

DEI 625

Business Innovation and Impact (Stratford Campus)

Lan Do


Methods for Sustainable Development Practice: A Systems Approach

Simron Singh

PACS 620

Special Topics in Peace & Conflict Studies: Thinking and Working Politically

Paul Heidebrecht

What is the competition timeline?

Date Details
November 15 Student Registration Opens
January 31 UWaterloo Student Registration Deadline
April 4 UWaterloo Campus Final Student Submission Deadline
April UWaterloo Campus Final
April Campus Finalists Selected and Contacted
April National Submission Deadline
May 10-12 Canadian National Final
May Global Finalists Announced
June Global Submission Deadline
June Global Final


What systems did past finalists map?

Some topics mapped in 2022 include:

  • Dispossession of Indigenous Lands and its Redistributed Wealth in Canada
  • Nursing Shortage in Ontario
  • Textile Waste
  • Barriers to Immigrant Entrepreneurs in Canada
  • Food and Nutrition Security in Dominica
  • Safe and Affordable Housing in Northern British Columbia
  • Food Waste Diversion in Multi-Residential Properties
  • Mental Toll of Climate Change
  • Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems
  • Declining Caribou Population in Canada
  • Unemployment caused by the 10-Year fishing ban in the Yangtze River Basin in China
  • Climate Resilience in Ecuador’s Amazon

Learn more about past finalists here.

Do I need ethics approval to do research for Map the System?

You can choose to conduct both primary and secondary research for your Map the System submission. Most students do not require ethics approval when participating in Map the System. However, if you are conducting primary research, you may need ethics approval. You can use the Decision Tree to understand if you need ethics approval. If you still have questions after using the Decision Tree, reach out to an instructor, the Office of Research Ethics, or Campus Lead Elham Mohammadi.

How long can my written submission be?

The written submission for Map the System should not exceed 3,000 words. The written submission can include: tables, figures, maps, graphics charts. The written submission cannot include an appendix. Charts, tables, graphics, and foot notes are not included in the word count.

Can we add or remove teammates after the registration deadline?

Yes, team members and topics can both change in the final submission. 

Can university faculty, staff or post docs participate?

If someone is employed or teaching at UWaterloo, they cannot compete as part of a team, but they can still help the team in a mentorship capacity if they would like. 

Who do I contact if I have questions?