Meet Our Students

Three students in front of Waterloo Engineering sign

The Department of Chemical Engineering has approximately 640 undergraduate students. Each unique individual is immersed in learning, hands-on lab work and research opportunities. Read about our students in the program and why they chose to study chemical engineering.

Steven Vilcacundo Molina

Steven Molona Vilacucndo

Program

Bachelor of Applied Science (BASc) in Chemical Engineering

Why did you decide to pursue an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering?

During my last year in high school, I enjoyed the lab portion of my organic chemistry course. A few of those lab sections included the production of ethanol from sugar cane, as well as glycerin production. While doing these experiments, I became quite curious about how things were made so I decided to pursue the Chemical Engineering Program so one day I would be part of the process of manufacturing something. Plus, I was good at math and chemistry so chemical engineering seemed like a good choice for me.

Why did you decide to study at the University of Waterloo?

I think the co-op program was the main reason why I chose to come to Waterloo. I thought the work terms would add valuable experience to my degree. You are not only gaining work experience but also making meaningful connections. 

What did you enjoy most about the Chemical Engineering Undergraduate program?

What I enjoyed most about the program was the chemical engineering labs. They were quite interesting, especially in the upper years when we needed to design our experiments. I also enjoyed working on our final year design project, which was a nice chance to put into practice all the knowledge acquired and try to make an impact in the world.

What was the best surprise about the University of Waterloo?

  I think the best surprise about coming to Waterloo was having the opportunity to make friends from all over the world. I am thankful for all the people I met and became friends with during my time at university. Another nice surprise was having the opportunity to do a work term overseas, which I ended up doing at Soochow University in Suzhou, China.     

What advice do you have for new undergraduate students?

For new undergraduate students, I would advise them to not be afraid of asking for help and trying new things. University should not be such a struggle, especially with all the resources available on campus. I also think everybody should dedicate some time to their mental health whether it is joining any extracurricular activities or practicing any sports. I believe there is not a better time than university to make mistakes and learn from them before we go into the “real” world.    

Nicole Howard

Nicole Howard

Program 

Bachelor of Applied Science (BASc) in Chemical Engineering

Why did you decide to pursue an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering?

 My father went to the University of Waterloo for Civil Engineering so I wanted to follow in his footsteps. I decided to choose chemical engineering because I loved to see how the technical aspects of building unit operations connects with the science of chemistry. After getting through first year and working in the field, I fell in love with how chemical engineering is somehow found in everything manufactured in the world today.

Why did you decide to study at the University of Waterloo?

 My father and my uncle studied at the University of Waterloo in engineering. The University of Waterloo is also recognized as one of the most respected engineering programs. Additionally, I didn’t know the industry I would be most drawn to in chemical engineering so I saw the co-op program at the University of Waterloo as the way to find where my talents, as well as my passions, lie. 

 What did you enjoy most about the Chemical Engineering Undergraduate Program?

 Every day is an adventure. This is the motto that I live my life by. Every single course was different and that allowed me to be surprised by the content that I was learning every day. I love to work with people and this field is one of the most social fields of engineering. It allowed me to interact with people and combine the technical aspects of engineering. While I was working, I learned that it is important to spend time with every single operator as that is key to fixing real-world applications in plants. 

What was the best surprise about the University of Waterloo?

The University of Waterloo has a lot of resources available to help students achieve their goals. The pandemic did make it difficult to pursue some of these goals such as studying abroad, but knowing about the resources was key to success in some of my ventures. Velocity, as well as pitch competitions, helped me as well as my Capstone team become a success in developing a start-up company.

What advice do you have for new undergraduate students?

When I walked out of class on the very first day I did not think that I would make it past the first semester, much less obtain my degree. However, I took it one goal at a time, one assignment at a time, one semester at a time. I was able to take the co-op jobs where I knew I could learn soft skills such as communication, problem-solving skills, and leadership skills from my mentor. Sometimes taking the not-so-lucrative co-op jobs, but the jobs where you obtain these skills will help you to succeed more in the future.

Sean Doran

Sean Doran

Program 

Bachelor of Applied Science (BASc) in Chemical Engineering

Why did you decide to pursue an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering?

In high school I always excelled in math and sciences. I knew that I wanted to pursue a degree in engineering, and I settled on chemical engineering because of the love for chemistry instilled in me by my high school chemistry teacher.

Why did you decide to study at the University of Waterloo?

The University of Waterloo has a reputation for being the best institution in Canada to pursue engineering. When I was applying to universities I spoke with alumni and current students who had nothing but good things to say about the quality of education at Waterloo. I had also heard that the co-op program was second to none, and I was not disappointed.

What did you enjoy most about the Chemical Engineering Undergraduate Program?

The Chemical Engineering Program at Waterloo drew me in because of my love for math and science and did the same for many like-minded individuals. What I enjoyed most about this program are the lifelong friendships I have been able to make with the other students over the past 5 years. 

What was the best surprise about the University of Waterloo?

I think that the best surprise that I encountered at the University of Waterloo was the quality of co-op jobs during work terms. Going into this program, I assumed co-op jobs would consist of bottom-of-the-barrel, menial jobs, but my very first work term surprised me by thrusting responsibility on my shoulders and giving me a taste of how engineers function in the working world.

What advice do you have for new undergraduate students?

My advice would be to take advantage of the co-op program. You have 5 years and 6 co-op terms to figure out what you want to do when you graduate. Try different jobs in different industries and figure out what you like and dislike. That knowledge goes a long way once you’re out in the real world looking for a full-time position.

Nikolai Burton

Nikolai Burton

Program 

 Bachelor of Applied Science (BASc) in Chemical Engineering

Why did you decide to pursue an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering?

In my later stages of secondary school, I wanted to focus more on the topics that interest me. I grew more interested in the intricacies of design and how products are made, which fit the description of a chemical engineer. Chemical engineers designed the processes for products we use in everyday life, pharmaceuticals, polymers, fuels, etc. Knowing how all these products are made and potentially becoming an expert in one of these fields appealed to me. Thus, I chose to pursue a chemical engineering degree.

Why did you decide to study at the University of Waterloo?

Although I knew chemical engineering was the right fit for me, I was unsure of what industry I'd ultimately like best. Waterloo's co-op program provided an excellent opportunity to dip my feet in several industries. The co-op program proved fruitful because I ended up working in the pharmaceuticals, wastewater treatment, HVAC, and oil industries. Having experience in multiple industries allowed me to have a broader understanding and what is required of a chemical engineer.

What did you enjoy most about the Chemical Engineering Undergraduate Program?

I enjoyed meeting people from backgrounds much different from mine. Socializing and learning different views of people is essential and gives your perspective of how life can be vastly different.   

What was the best surprise about the University of Waterloo?

Although it shouldn't be a surprise, Waterloo provides several avenues to jump-start your career. Whether it's the co-op program, student design teams, or velocity pitch competitions to attain funding, waterloo emphasizes career and encourages innovation

What advice do you have for new undergraduate students?

The best advice I can give is to talk to people different from you. Throughout the program and undergrad, you will meet many people. You never want to look back and regret not forming enough meaningful connections. Additionally, almost everyone has their struggles when transitioning to university. Be kind to one another and collaborate when you can