Engineer the interactions between anything and everything
Everything on our planet interacts – transportation networks, energy transfer, and biological systems – but how do they work together?
Systems Design Engineering looks at the big picture to find the connections that advance technology and innovation. You’ll learn the fundamentals in electrical, mechanical, and software engineering to prepare for a career with the flexibility to solve the world's biggest problems.
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 in a wide range of industries. Plus you’ll graduate with two full years of paid work experience through North America's largest co-op program.
By graduation, you’ll be ready to develop comprehensive, ground-breaking solutions for the toughest engineering problems. Think everything from heath-care management to advanced cyber-physical security and complex energy systems.
Unlimited innovation opportunities. Use a "big picture" approach to solve problems. Our grads go on to engineering consulting, project management, graduate school, medical school, start-ups, and more.
Multi-directional engineering. Learn fundamentals in electrical, mechanical, and software engineering with an overarching focus on engineering design and systems-driven thinking. Choose from 300 different electives to gain a well-rounded experience!
- Offered as a co-op program only
- Graduate with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Systems Design Engineering
- Offered by the Faculty of Engineering
Why Waterloo Engineering?
What will you learn?
During your first year, you'll take foundational courses exploring subjects like communication in system design, digital computation, and physics.
Learn more about the courses you'll take for your Systems Design Engineering degree.
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Questions? Ask a student!
Ask a Faculty of Engineering student about their program, classes, getting involved on campus, and more!
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
- Environment and Climate Change Canada
- Intelligent Mechatronic Systems Inc
- Atomic Labs
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
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 20+ 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.
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 high 80s to low 90s.
Complete the Admission Information Form once you've applied.
Not studying in Ontario? Search our admission requirements.
How to apply
Apply directly to this program on your application.
- Visit our Systems Design Engineering program website.