Build better buildings — and a bright career in the process
Explore the science of building design combining engineering and architectural thinking. You will learn firsthand the impact of design choices on a building’s energy efficiency and carbon footprint, and learn about the challenges of updating aging buildings.
You'll cover all the science and engineering that goes into good building design, including mechanics, structural analysis, structural design and more. In third year, you'll study at Waterloo's world-class School of Architecture, deepening your understanding of aesthetics, culture, and other elements of design.
As a graduate, you'll be able to speak the language of both engineers and architects. Your knowledge will encompass the whole scope of building design, construction, assessment, and refurbishment, plus the communication skills that will put you on the fast track to leadership in the construction industry.
Explore the science of design. Gain the technical know-how of an engineer while developing design skills through hands-on modelling and prototyping studio courses each term.
Collaborate with architects. You'll spend third year at our School of Architecture in Cambridge, Ontario, working and connecting with talented Architecture students and gaining expertise in design.
- Offered as a co-op program only
- Graduate with a Bachelor of Applied Science
- Offered by the Faculty of Engineering
Architectural Engineering at Waterloo
What will you learn?
During your first year, you'll take a mix of foundational engineering, chemistry, and math courses.
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Co-op = relevant paid work experience
You'll have your first co-op work term in January to April of your first year, alternating between four-month co-op work terms and four-month school terms. By alternating school terms and paid co-op work terms throughout your degree, you can explore new career areas and types of employers as your career interests evolve.
Sample co-op job titles
- Architectural Engineering/BIM Consultant
- Building Envelope/Structural Technician
- Building Science & Restoration Project Coordinator
- Design and Energy Performance Specialist
- Energy & Sustainability Engineering Assistant
- Jr. Conservation Management Coordinator
- Microclimate Coordinator
- Residential Engineering Designer
What can you do with a degree in architectural engineering?
You’ll be particularly well-suited to work in building design consulting firms of all sizes that house specialists relating to building design, e.g., interior designers, architects, structural, mechanical, and electrical engineers. However, you could also work for government public works departments, school boards and hospital authorities, private building infrastructure owners (e.g., airport authorities), building construction firms, developers, and more.
Possible professional designation
Learn about the future of careers in engineering.
Student life, including Women in Engineering
Student design teams
Have fun and develop hands-on experience through one or more of our 25+ student-led design teams! Design teams include rocketry, concrete canoe, robotics, solar car, submarine racing, autonomous vehicle, Space X Hyperloop, Formula Motorsports, Engineers Without Borders, and more.
You’ll meet people with similar interests and goals, benefit from networking with experts in the engineering profession, and develop some great skills for your résumé.
Women in Engineering
Women in Engineering (WiE) supports female students and engineers while encouraging the next generation of women to pursue careers in engineering. Regardless of gender, orientation, or background, you’re welcome to join this inclusive community to participate in outreach events as well as mentorship and volunteer opportunities.
Any student is also welcome to join Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (WiSTEM), a student-run club that promotes equality in STEM through skills workshops, discussions, and guest speakers.
Engineering Society (EngSoc)
EngSoc is run by students for students and provides many social and academic events and services to make your experience as a Waterloo Engineering student the best it can be.
Benefit from mentoring for first-year students or get involved and meet other students through an annual conference, semiformal, career fair, charity events, community outreach, and much more!
Our campus is packed with opportunities to get involved – no matter how unique your interests. Between our 250+ student-run clubs, sports and recreation opportunities, student government, and events, student life at Waterloo has something for everyone.
Common questions about the program
What is the difference between Architectural Engineering and Architecture?
The Architectural Engineering program is an accredited engineering program, so you’ll be able to work towards professional engineer (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. You'll 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 covers enough about the aesthetic aspects of building design to be able to communicate comfortably with architects on this subject. In Architecture, these aesthetic aspects are a much greater focus.
What is the difference between Architectural Engineering and Civil Engineering?
Architectural Engineering focuses heavily on building design. In contrast, Civil Engineering is a more general field with more breadth. The Civil Engineering curriculum includes design of large municipal infrastructure components. In both programs, you’ll take courses in structural analysis and design (i.e., how to determine forces in structures and size their members, connections, etc.). As an Architectural Engineering student, you’ll 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 engineers work for design consulting firms specializing in the design, construction, renovation, and rehabilitation of buildings. Civil engineers are more likely to get jobs with government, 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 Engineering?
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 Civil Engineering, Architectural Engineering is a studio-based program and introduces design concepts from day one. 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 you address open-ended design problems.
How is the learning style different between the programs?
The main differences between Civil and Architectural Engineering in terms of learning style are the studio streams in Architectural Engineering. You’ll take a “studio” course every term, which will involve projects, model building, and synthesis of knowledge from other courses. In each studio you’ll work as part of a group on projects that rely on presentation of the work on a regular basis. You’ll have a desk in a studio space, which will be your home for the entire term. This is similar to what Architecture students currently have. You'll also do your third year at the School of Architecture in Cambridge, where you’ll 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’re strong in math and science, interested in the technical aspects of building performance and design, but lenient on artistic and creative outcomes, you would potentially be more suited for Architectural Engineering.
What would make me more suited to Architectural Engineering than Civil Engineering?
The skills required from you 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 hope you'll choose Waterloo if you have a passion for the program and field of expertise to which you’re admitted.
How does the application process differ?
If you’re applying to Architectural Engineering or Civil Engineering, you’ll need to take high school chemistry. Architecture does not have this requirement. Architecture requires an interview and portfolio of creative work while Architectural Engineering and Civil Engineering don’t. If you apply to Architectural Engineering or Civil Engineering, you’ll have the opportunity to complete an optional online interview. Evidence of design and creative skills and interests will be considered an asset in Architectural Engineering much more than it would be in Civil Engineering.
Ontario students: six Grade 12 U and/or M courses including
- Advanced Functions (minimum final grade of 70% is required)
- Calculus and Vectors (minimum final grade of 70% is required)
- Chemistry (minimum final grade of 70% is required)
- Physics (minimum final grade of 70% is required)
- English (ENG4U) (minimum final grade of 70% is required)
Admission averages: Individual selection from the mid- to high 80s
The Admission Information Form is required for admission.
Not studying in Ontario? Search our admission requirements.
How to apply
Apply directly to this program on your application.
- Visit our Architectural Engineering program website.