Systems Design Engineering

Get creative. And still get an engineering degree.

Cross boundaries. Connect the dots. Look at the bigger picture. Systems Design is designed for people who want the rigour of an engineering degree plus the flexibility to explore topics outside traditional engineering disciplines.

You’ll examine the people, materials, tools, software, and other factors involved in any engineering problem. You’ll learn to look at the system as a whole and assess how one change will affect another element, using a variety of modelling, analysis, and design methods.

Our project-based approach gives you lots of opportunity to apply your learning to real problems. Plus you’ll get two full years of work experience through our co-op program.

Once you graduate, your options are wide open: our grads go on to engineering consulting, project management, graduate school, medical school, startups, and more. 

Systems Design Engineering admission requirements

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 low to mid-90s

Complete the Admission Information Form once you've applied.

Not studying in Ontario? Search our admission requirements.





First-year courses

September to December

May to August


Sample upper-year courses

SYDE 286 – Mechanics of Deformable Solids
SYDE 351 – Systems Models 1
SYDE 411 – Optimization and Numerical Methods
SYDE 544 – Biomedical Measurement and Signal Processing


Why Waterloo Engineering?

Discover why the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Waterloo is one of the world’s top engineering schools, and Canada’s largest.

breifcaseGain two years of experience in the co-op program

clickApply directly to this program on your application

grad capEarn a Bachelor of Applied Science degree


Co-op = relevant paid work experience

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

  • Product design/development
  • Rapid prototype software developer
  • Product manager
  • User experience designer
  • Application developer
  • Control systems software designer co-op
  • Machine learning developer

Sample co-op employers

  • Deloitte
  • Yelp
  • Environment and Climate Change Canada
  • Intelligent Mechatronic Systems Inc
  • Shopify
  • Atomic Labs

"2nd" icon purplein Canada for engineering (US News & World Report 2019)

GearsOffered through the Faculty of Engineering

Money flowerStudents earn $13,300 on average per co-op term


What can I do with a degree in Systems Design Engineering?

Waterloo Systems Design Engineering graduates commonly pursue careers in business analysis, technology consulting, and applications engineering. They often utilize their interdisciplinary skills to work for manufacturing companies, accounting firms, technology companies, and more.

  • Software Development Engineer – Amazon
  • Hardware Program Manager – Microsoft
  • Senior Solutions Engineer – D2L 
  • Software Engineer – Facebook
  • Applications Engineer – Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada 
  • Software Engineer – Apple
  • Energy Manager – Hydro Ottawa

Possible professional designation

For more information on potential careers, check out our page on careers in engineering.

200 electives = lots of choice

Systems Design is Waterloo’s most flexible engineering program — you can choose from 200 different electives.

Add international experience

Grab your passport and take advantage of Canada’s biggest engineering exchange program, with 81 opportunities in 30 countries.


Ready to learn more?