Engineering co-op programs

Waterloo co-op students at work



Waterloo’s Architecture program is recognized nationally for its excellence. The program puts strong emphasis on design, strengthened with extensive cultural and technical knowledge. It provides the foundation of design skills, judgement and practical experience required for subsequent professional studies in architecture. It prepares students for leadership in practice, able to adapt to changing professional and societal contexts.

Design is a synthetic activity. Waterloo Architecture supports a broad education in which students acquire an understanding of society and culture, the principles of structures, materials and techniques of construction, human interaction with the natural and built environment, historical process, critical thought and diverse forms of creative expression.

The program emphasizes a broad range of intellectual, practical and social abilities characterized by a variety of skills and attributes including:

  • creative thinking and problem solving
  • strong visual, verbal, and written communication skills
  • analytical and critical skills
  • research abilities
  • problem-solving skills
  • strong motivation and independence and leadership skills
  • 2D and 3D computer graphic skills, including Rhino, Grasshopper, Digital Fabrication, Milling, 3D Printing, Photoshop, inDesign, Illustrator and GIS among many others.
  • analog skills in sketching, drafting and model making

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Architectural Engineering (NEW in September 2018!)

The University of Waterloo's Architectural Engineering program was designed to produce engineers who see buildings as interactive systems - not just structures. 

Architectural Engineering students will develop an extremely unique, in-demand skill set. Most notably, they'll be able to speak the language of both architects and engineers, which will lead to increased productivity on projects.

These students will have skills and knowledge in:

  • infrastructure renewal
  • the structural and functional design of buildings
  • scientific and engineering aspects of building design - including energy efficiency and sustainable design
  • how to respond to the emerging challenges facing the buildings sector

Learn more about the program here.

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Biomedical Engineering

The Biomedical Engineering program is designed to close the gap between medicine and engineering. Students will learn how to design and implement devices and systems that can be used in medical practice, health maintenance, or in support of independent living with compromised health.

Biomedical engineering is highly interdisciplinary, combining biological sciences such as biochemistry, cellular physiology, anatomy, molecular biology and human physiology with applied science fields such as materials science, instrumentation, control, and chemical, electrical, and mechanical engineering. Students trained in the biomedical engineering field from day one will be able to work and communicate effectively across all of these disciplines.

Students in this program are able to work in the field, in the lab, or in an office.

Students have specific skills and knowledge in the following areas:

  • modelling complex biomedical systems
  • interpretation of biomedical experimental results
  • design and development of technologies
  • regulatory processes
  • product development
  • requirements engineering
  • project management

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Chemical Engineering

Chemical engineers design, implement, optimize and supervise industrial processes where matter undergoes change. They do this in a variety of settings including industry, government, universities or private practice.

The Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Waterloo is one of the largest and most active departments in North America. The department’s highly versatile program includes courses in traditional areas of chemical engineering as well as courses relating to the emerging fields of biotechnology and nanotechnology.

The program gives students a first-rate opportunity to obtain a sound, relevant background in the discipline of chemical engineering. A solid background and fundamental understanding of science and mathematics is combined with highly developed problem-solving skills.

Students apply their knowledge in laboratories and through hands-on experience. The program also places emphasis on the ability to communicate technical results clearly, accurately and effectively to others.

Students bring broad knowledge to the workplace, together with hands-on experience in laboratories. In addition to their technical skills, they also have the benefit of considerable written and oral communication practice throughout their program.

Other valuable skills and attributes include:

  • problem-solving skills
  • analysis of chemical properties, processes, energy efficiency or data
  • process design, analysis, and optimization
  • laboratory skills
  • instrumentation and control specification
  • audit for quality, environmental, health and safety compliance
  • process improvement

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Civil Engineering

Civil engineers play a major role in the design, construction and management of society’s infrastructure.

To meet the needs of this wonderfully broad field, Waterloo’s Civil Engineering program draws upon the physical and social sciences, integrated with the latest information technology and computer design and simulation tools. The program is rich in technical electives, enabling upper-year students to specialize in any of these sub-disciplines:

  • engineering mechanics
  • geotechnical engineering
  • project management
  • structural engineering
  • transportation engineering
  • urban and municipal systems

For those seeking to pursue a management career, the curriculum also allows students to combine the Civil Engineering degree with an option in management science.

Students in Waterloo’s Civil Engineering program are bright and highly motivated. In addition to a sound knowledge base in mathematics, science and computers, they have also taken courses that build communication skills.

Students bring valuable skills and attributes in a variety of areas, including:

  • surveying and field work
  • materials testing
  • field sampling
  • project co-ordination and management
  • analysis, design and report writing
  • AutoCAD drafting
  • modelling

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Computer Engineering

Computer engineering applies algorithmic and digital design principles to design, build and test computer software or hardware components used for information processing, communication and storage – typically embedded in larger engineered systems and in distributed, networked environments.

Application areas include communication, automation and robotics, power and energy, health care, business, security, entertainment and many others.

Waterloo’s Computer Engineering program is designed to develop professionals with experience in all aspects of computers. It gives students the benefit of leading-edge technology in classrooms and labs, providing them with a solid foundation that can be applied very successfully within a business environment.

Students in Waterloo’s Computer Engineering program are bright and highly motivated and bring perspectives from previous work terms. They bring knowledge from a wide range of courses in both computer hardware and software.

Valuable skills and attributes include:

  • mathematical skills
  • knowledge of algorithmic and digital design principles
  • communication skills
  • knowledge of computer software
  • ability to learn new programming languages easily
  • business understanding
  • analytical skills

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Electrical Engineering

Electrical engineering is an immense field with hundreds of diverse applications. Waterloo’s Electrical Engineering program develops engineers who know how to apply electronic and electromagnetic/optical design principles to design, build and test analog or digital devices, circuits and systems. These would be used for processing, communication and storage of information; for distribution, conversion and storage of energy; and process automation or robotics.

By their choice of elective courses, students in this program specialize in broad domains that include:

  • electronic, RF and optical devices, circuits and fabrication
  • communications, control and energy systems
  • computer hardware and software

This fast-growing field involves processing, communicating and storing information; distribution, conversion and storing of energy; and process automation and robotics. The Electrical Engineering program at Waterloo is designed to develop electrical engineers who have the solid knowledge and skills to meet this continually expanding environment. Students have the benefit of leading-edge technology in classrooms and labs as they learn how to deal with the transfer of energy and information.

Students in the Waterloo Electrical Engineering program bring the benefits of hands-on experience with leading-edge equipment and technology in classrooms and labs. Many have related experience gained from previous work terms, together with technical writing experience gained from completing work-term reports.

Valuable skills and attributes include:

  • ability to troubleshoot and analyze electrical/ electronic circuits
  • problem-solving, analytical and design skills
  • computer programming skills
  • trained in technical presentations

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Environmental Engineering

Environmental Engineering is a unique program integrating the philosophy of sustainable development into the principles of water management and treatment, solid waste management, remediation of surface water, groundwater and soils, biotechnology and contaminant transport.

This program is both challenging and dynamic, embracing all the classic traditions and principles of engineering together with the dynamic processes of the natural environment. It takes the best engineering courses and principles to lay the foundation of qualitative skills and augments these with diverse and robust technical elective courses.

This program is designed to equip students with the ability to meet current and future challenges in managing, sustaining and restoring the natural environment. This prepares them to work as engineering professionals in consulting firms, industry, regulatory agencies and government.

Although students will have a broad range of abilities,  they are characterized by a variety of transferable skills  and attributes.

  • broadly based environmental science and engineering skills
  • lab and field sampling skills
  • trained in environmental issues, regulations and assessment
  • sensitive to the impact of technology on society
  • numerical/modelling skills
  • communication skills
  • background in environmental impact assessment

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Geological Engineering

Dealing with the Earth’s materials, geological engineering is used to design structures in or on soil or rock, to design mineral-extraction processes in mining and petroleum engineering, to explore for and protect groundwater sources, to plan and design transportation routes and so on. It is an expansive field of study involving geology, applied Earth sciences, civil and environmental engineering.

The Geological Engineering program at Waterloo is an interdisciplinary program between the Department of Earth Sciences and the Department of Civil Engineering. The program consists of two themes: geomechanics and hydrogeology. It is one of the university’s most applied programs, combining the theoretical aspects of design with the practical application of field and laboratory work.

The demand for the expertise offered by geological engineers is expanding into many of the resource-development areas that are starting to play a major role in the economy. This program is designed to meet the demand for highly qualified professionals with engineering design and problem-solving skills, together with a solid background in geological science.

Students also learn to use computers to solve engineering problems, manage databases, create graphics and perform statistical analyses.

Geological Engineering is a very focused program right from the first year and attracts students with specific interests in this area. They are highly driven and motivated.

Valuable skills and attributes include:

  • field sampling and testing
  • CaD
  • computer and technology
  • research
  • problem-solving
  • lab analysis

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Management Engineering

Waterloo’s Management Engineering program combines an Engineering degree with the training necessary to understand, design, implement and manage the complex management systems upon which organizations depend.

The curriculum is multidisciplinary. It combines technical and managerial knowledge with the skills required to work with interdisciplinary groups of people. In addition to core technical knowledge, students learn to understand analytical decision-making, efficient distribution of products and services and applications of information technology that support decision-making.

Graduates are equipped to successfully work and consult in every industry and on wide-ranging projects, from the design of efficient operations to devising smooth information flows and the management of technological change.

The program was launched to meet the industry need for professionals who are trained in both management and engineering. It is designed to provide a broad education that equips graduates to successfully manage a wide variety of processes and systems within an organization.

Students in Waterloo’s Management Engineering program have the broad-ranging engineering and management skills to make a valuable contribution on interdisciplinary teams, manage technical functions in almost any enterprise or to manage broader functions in a high-technology enterprise.

Valuable skills and attributes include:

  • technical engineering skills
  • problem-solving skills
  • communication and interpersonal skills
  • project management skills
  • teamwork skills
  • leadership skills
  • strategic and analytical thinking
  • understanding of efficient distribution of products and services
  • solutions-oriented

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Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical engineering involves the design, development, manufacturing, installation and maintenance of virtually anything that moves: land, water and aerospace vehicles, pumps, robots, motors and machines of all kinds.

It is the broadest and most diversified of all the engineering disciplines, requiring understanding of the laws of mechanics and thermodynamics, the effects of forces on solids and liquids, the flow of heat through materials, the selection, properties and processing of advanced engineering materials and the design and manufacturing and control of mechanisms, systems and processes to accomplish useful tasks.

Mechanical engineers will play a leading role in the advancement of technology for sustainable development.

The program is designed to develop mechanical engineers who are problem solvers, leaders and innovators with the knowledge and diverse skills to meet today’s fast-changing challenges in a global marketplace. It provides a diverse mechanical engineering education that includes a firm grasp of the fundamentals of mathematics, physics and engineering as well as an opportunity for specialization in later years.

Our Mechanical Engineering students have had the benefit of advanced labs that are well-equipped for design and experimentation, as well as computational facilities for CAD, finite element analysis, computational fluid mechanics and simulation. With their hands-on experience, diversified engineering background and strong problem-solving skills, they are well-equipped for the challenges of a real-life workplace in a broad range of fields and industries.

Industries that can benefit from their skills and attributes include:

  • natural gas production and transmission
  • manufacturing
  • steel and other materials production
  • mining and other resource-based industries
  • transportation
  • biomedical
  • oil and petrochemical refining
  • nuclear and other energy generation and distribution
  • wood and pulp & paper
  • agriculture and food processing
  • textiles
  • construction

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Mechatronics Engineering

Waterloo is home to the first and only Mechatronics Engineering program in Canada. Advanced new teaching and research labs were built specifically for the program.

The curriculum is multidisciplinary. The key element is the seamless integration of mechanical engineering, electronics control engineering and software into the design of computer-controlled electromechanical systems. It includes robotics and automation systems, micro electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) and many other leading-edge technologies.

It can be viewed as modern mechanical engineering design in the sense that the design of the mechanical system must be performed together with that of the electrical-electronic and computer control aspects to comprise the complete system.

With their integrated approach, expansive knowledge base and hands-on familiarity with different tools and methods, mechatronics students are well-equipped for the real-world workplace. They are also highly flexible and well-suited for new learning.

Valuable skills and attributes include:

  • computer-aided design and drafting
  • PLC and ladder logic programming
  • knowledgeable in sensors and instrumentation
  • electromechanical machine design
  • technical savvy
  • computer programming skills
  • teamwork skills
  • strategic and analytical thinking with a creative edge

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Nanotechnology Engineering

While studying chemical and electrical engineering, chemistry, materials science, quantum physics and biotechnology, NE students develop a foundational knowledge of multiple disciplines; learn a wide range of complementary abilities, including analysis, creativity and logical thinking; and gain specific technology-driven experience.

In the process, they get many employment-friendly skills that are quickly transferrable to your workplace:

  • Research experience based on a foundation of core science and engineering problem-solving skills
  • Analytical, fabrication and engineering design expertise
  • Soft skills that help them adapt to unique work environments, start work quickly and produce useful results

In their labs and classroom, students also acquire these job-ready skills:

  • Extensive hands-on laboratory competence honed on state-of-the-art equipment
  • Experience with a variety of chemical and electrical tools and instruments, including those used at the nanoscale
  • Ability to communicate across fields, considering and leveraging various approaches to find the best one
  • Innovative thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Experience in the design and development of new technologies
  • Knowledge of safe practices, including toxicological, exposure and risk assessment issues of nanomaterials

NE students’ unique collection of skills and attributes make them an excellent fit for work in many industries. They have strong research and engineering skills and can integrate discoveries into a broad range of devices or working technologies.

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Professional Master of Engineering: Graduate Diploma in Design

Providing graduate-level, design methodology education for practical commercial application, the Graduate Diploma in Design (GDD) is a unique, design-focused diploma program offered by Waterloo’s department of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering. All aspects of the program have substantial emphasis on integration with authentic industry environments.

Taught to first discover, unpack and communicate a mechanical engineering problem or opportunity in context of real-time industry, GDD students then pursue the development of meaningful and feasible concepts and solutions applying the latest design theory, methods and principles.

Employers can benefit from the talent available through the GDD program in two ways: sponsor a student design project which will assess, evaluate and address an issue or opportunity within your organization; hire a GDD co-op student to work directly for their organization, with the option sponsor that student’s design project upon the completion of their work term. Both sponsorship scenarios allow extended opportunity to verify, implement and refine the design solution.

Students accepted into the co-op system participate in one of two academic streams, making them available to start work in either January or May for a four-month term. There are no students available for hire in the fall term.

Hire a Graduate Diploma in Design student to:

  • access focused, graduate-level engineering students with considerable engineering design portfolios;
  • benefit from the application of the latest design theory, methods and principles;
  • identify and produce solutions for a mechanical engineering problem or opportunity within your organization;
  • generate customized and feasible design concepts for consideration that address safety, regulatory, sustainability and ethical requirements.

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Software Engineering

Over the last few decades, there has been great growth in information technology and its impact on everyday life. Complex software systems have become critical to the operation of many systems across multiple industry sectors, leading to the emergence of software engineering as a separate discipline.

A systematic and disciplined approach to developing software, software engineering applies both computer science and engineering principles and practices to the creation, operation and maintenance of software systems.

The Software Engineering program at Waterloo is an independent, interdisciplinary program supported by  both the Faculty of Mathematics and the Faculty of Engineering. The curriculum encompasses the technical  and professional background required to engineer large  and complex software systems.

This program is designed to give students a solid foundation in mathematics, science, engineering and computer science, together with an understanding of the fundamental concepts of the software development process, project management and technical communication.

Students apply these techniques to create and maintain complex software systems in areas such as the Internet.

Students in Waterloo’s Software Engineering program are of high calibre and are extremely motivated. They bring strong knowledge across the discipline and have been exposed to the latest in both learning and in equipment and technology.

Student project work in this program recurs through the curriculum, so students also bring strong communication, interpersonal, reasoning and  teamwork skills.

In addition to technical abilities, valuable skills and  attributes include:

  • business competence
  • presentation and report writing skills
  • ability to assess social, technical and commercial implications of technology

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Systems Design Engineering

Systems Design Engineering is a unique multidisciplinary program which started in 1968. SYDE graduates have a strong foundation in design and the ability to approach complex engineering problems from a systems perspective. It teaches students to find creative  solutions to multifaceted real-world problems by using formal design methods, systems analysis, simulation, and optimization to engineer innovative tools, tasks and systems.

The Systems Design Engineering program is oriented towards developing graduates who can solve problems lying at the interface of technology, humans, and the environment. It prepares students for leadership in a complex technological society that requires interdisciplinary and integrative thinking to meet future needs for balanced decision making. A unique aspect of this program is the undergraduate students’ involvement in hands-on design projects each term, starting in the first academic term. Students in traditional engineering programs often do not get exposure to formal design methods with open-ended problem solving until the upper years.

Students in this program bring considerable hands-on experience, enabling easy transition into the workplace.  They are bright and highly motivated.

Valuable skills and attributes include:

  • Ability to solve real-world problems which span multiple engineering disciplines
  • Fundamental training across engineering disciplines: mechanical, electrical, computer hardware, software, civil, management, and human factors engineering
  • Systems analysis, modelling, optimization, and simulation techniques
  • Practical iterative design techniques for analysis and prototyping, including 3D printing in first academic term
  • Design team management and team communication skills

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