Vanessa Szymanski

Architectural Engineering 2024
Vanessa Szymanski

Hello, my name is Vanessa and I'm in the 2024 class of Architectural Engineering! I am currently on my 4th co-op term, and will be starting third year in Spring 2022.

Waterloo Engineering in one word:


I chose Waterloo Engineering because:

I decided to go here for quite a few reasons! Firstly, the Architectural Engineering program at Waterloo is one of the only (if not the only) program of its kind in Ontario. I appreciated how it combines the artistic aspect of architecture with the analytical side of engineering, and I also liked that the program gives you an engineering degree in the end, because I figured that's the most versatile option. Second, the co-op program was a huge factor for me, because I wanted to be able to try out many different industries to see what I'd actually like to work in (and throughout my degree so far this has been super important!). Finally, my sister already went here, so that was a plus.

The best thing about my program is:

I love that we have an intensive design course every term, starting right from first year, while still doing the engineering courses like other programs. It gets us into the world of design and ideation - studio projects teach us a lot about what the design process is like.

About my co-op experience:

I've had the chance to explore some completely different industries through co-op, and even explore new career interests outside of the program! The type of jobs you do in co-op is completely up to you which I appreciate, because I've had the chance to work in the construction/real estate industry, and product & graphic design!

My first co-op was working for an industrial real estate developer in Mississauga, as a Building Inspector. I inspected large buildings, learned about all types of building systems, worked with various contractors and other professionals, and got my Working at Heights certificate.

My second co-op was at an innovation lab for a large media company, working as a Program Manager. I made case studies to promote the company's innovation projects, and did lots of visual design work!

My third co-op was working for a food production company as a User Experience Analyst. I worked on various projects that will help the company's 10,000+ employees with their work processes by helping them train more effectively and achieve a better work-life balance.

My fourth co-op is ongoing, but I'm working for a large biomedical firm as a User Experience Designer. I've been working on the company's design system, creating a website to showcase our product design to our customers, designing a website to sell our upcoming consumer products, and updating the interfaces of our existing digital products.

I wish I had known before I came:

If you would like to get an architecture job, you will probably need to have a portfolio before you get here! It will be super busy in your first term with school and job applications going on, so it's best if you come in with at least the layout ready. Also, please ask upper years for advice on your resume! It's super tricky to make a good resume if this is the first time you're applying to jobs in the field, but there are so many people who are willing to help out.

Outside the classroom, I’m involved with:

Engineering Ambassadors - This group is behind many of the Waterloo Engineering outreach events that you might've seen, like Open Houses, campus tours, program webinars, and EngChats. I've been an ambassador since 1A, and since Fall 2021 I have been the Team Lead! I love being in this group and I recommend that everyone joins as an ambassador, as there are so many ways to help out prospective students!

Waterloop - This is a design team that aims to design and build a Hyperloop pod! There are a bunch of subteams within the group so there's something for everyone. At the moment, I'm on the Web and Software Communications teams as a UX Designer, working on a website for an upcoming event, and designing an interface that will allow the Pod's embedded devices to communicate with each other.

A fun project I’ve completed:

While exploring my interests in UX design, I entered a design competition with one of my classmates. We were given a prompt about encouraging advocacy, so we designed a period-tracking app that aims to break the stigma around menstruation and gives users tangible ways to help women in poverty. You can read more about it here:

One more thing about me:

I am always down to answer any questions you may have about Architectural Engineering, the faculty, or the university, so you can email me anytime!