Map the System - Frequently Asked Questions

2024 Map the System Finals

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, Jordan by email with:

  • Year (undergraduate/graduate)
  • Program
  • Topic that interests you

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, Jordan and resources online.

Which courses integrate Map the System at UWaterloo in 2024?

Course Code


Course Name




Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Sustainable Business Development 

Sean Geobey


Environment  Sustainable Business Models Sean Geobey


Environment  Methods for Sustainable Development Practice: A Systems Approach Simron Singh

HLTH 273


Systems Thinking and Health

Sharon Kirkpatrick

REC 480


Advanced Seminar on Tourism Development

Karla Boluk

SYDE 362


Systems Design Methods 2: Testing, Verification, and Validation

Matthew Borland

CIVE 332

Engineering  Civil Systems and Project Management Nadine Ibrahim
WATER 601 All - CWP Integrated Water Management 

Dustin Garrick &​

Isabel Jorgensen

DEI 625 ARTS Business Innovation and Impact Will Zhao

What is the competition timeline?

Date Details
November 1, 2023 Team Registration Opens
November 10 Student Info Session
January 31, 2024 Team Participant Registration Closes
February - April Research Period
April 3 Submission Deadline
April 10 Local Campus Finals
May 24 - 27 Map the System Canada Semi-Finals and Finals (National)

What systems did past finalists map?

Some topics mapped in the past include:

  • Wetland Management in Durham, Ontario
  • 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 Jordan Li.

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?