Frequently asked questions: future Management Engineering students

Students discussing analytics


How many hours a week should I spend on learning?

Every student is different, but for an average student to get an average mark, the workload at the university level is about 60 hours a week. This is the time spent on classes, labs, tutorials, preparing for classes, class review, assignments, term projects, and studying for tests.

What computer or laptop should I buy?

Ideally, you want something light enough to carry around, but powerful enough for class projects and assignments. There will be times when you will have to bring the laptop to class and sometimes the laptop is used for midterms and other activities. Most business analytic software runs on Microsoft Windows 10. Software used in upper years is also Windows based. A PC powerful enough to run the latest Windows and Office software is recommended (e.g. 8 Gb memory, 256 Gb storage). A Mac laptop will also work, but it is not the ideal choice, since the most common business analysis software (i.e. Excel with VBA macros) does not run easily on a Mac. However, it will work if it has enough memory and storage (see above) and you do something called a dual boot (this is where you can run both Mac and Windows), which is a bit of extra work to set up.

What is the first core Management Engineering course?

The first course is MSCI 100 - Management Engineering Concepts. There is little or no math in this course and it is about understanding the key ideas about what a career in management engineering implies - how to identify what the problem is, how to assess a situation, how to systematically think through the problem-solving process to create an efficient and effective solution in an efficient and effective fashion. We focus on the what and the how. The course focuses on data, evidence-based reasoning, and how to use Excel (macros, formulas, pivot tables, and Visual Basic) to create simple decision support tools to help make better decisions. The course also has a focus on learning, how to develop skills, time management, and working together in teams. The course is designed to help develop skills that will be useful on your first work term.

What are the hardest courses in first year?

This is highly dependent on a student's secondary school experience. You will be taking Chemistry, Physics, Linear Algebra, and Calculus. If you have a solid high school background in all four, then you will not usually have a problem with the first term courses.

University/student life

What is the transition like from high school?

The first year program is designed to help students transition between secondary and post-secondary. Two of the key themes are time management and study habits. There are lots of resources available to help first year students successfully transition from high school to engineering. Primarily this transition is supported by the First Year Office in Engineering through special sessions, support, and counselling services. WEEF (Waterloo Engineering Endowment Foundation) TAs (Teaching Assistants) are also a great resource for first years. WEEF TAs are students on co-op that work with the University to assist first year students with their classes by holding office hours or extra help sessions and more. MSCI 100 - the Management Engineering Concepts course is also designed to help with the transition. Students in this course discover what learning methods from high school will work at the university level and which ones will need modifying.

Watch a fomer student describe his own transition from high-school to first year:

Remote video URL

Will I have time to take vacation between terms?

Waterloo Engineering is an intensive five-year program with few breaks. You can get an idea of students' schedules from the important dates maintained by the Registrar's Office.

Most students are able to take a week or two between each term (not always). The break after an academic term is based on when a student is done with exams and when they start the next term. Exam schedules can vary and students should not make travel arrangements until they are absolutely sure their exams will be completed, as exams can be postponed due to a number of reasons, including weather.

Likewise, there can be a break between the end of a co-op term and the start of an academic term. It may also be possible to request unpaid time off from an employer during a co-op term, but these arrangements must be made with the employer's approval. You should make the request as early as possible in the term, if not before the term starts (during the interview). Please keep in mind that the employer is not obligated to give you the requested time off.

What is the ratio of males to females in the program?

Each cohort of students is different, but females typically make up 40-50% of the students in Management Engineering. The first-year Management Engineering class in 2018 was about 46% female. You can find more statistics about Management Engineering and other engineering programs at Waterloo here

How large are the class sizes?

It depends on whether it is a core or elective course. For the most part, the class size will be about 70-90 students.

Do I take classes with students from other engineering departments?

In general, you will likely be with the same students for most of your courses throughout the program. Usually, we are able to schedule all of the Management Engineering students to be in the same classes. In later years, as you begin to take electives, it is likely that you will find yourself in classes with students from other engineering programs.

Can I work part-time?

There are regulations about part-time and full-time work at the university level. Students are allowed to have part-time jobs. However, we do not recommend this for junior students as school is already roughly a 60-hour a week commitment. Until a student adapts to post-secondary education, we do not recommend a part-time job. The need for a part-time job is also reduced because of the compensation normally received from co-op work terms.

What kinds of clubs and intra-mural activities are there?

We encourage students to have a healthy balance of academics and non-academics. The key is balance. You want to be physically healthy, mentally healthy, and still do a good job on your courses. You need to sleep and eat well. While there are exceptions, most students find that they cannot spend as much time with clubs and intra-mural activities as they did in high school. Perhaps start with one club that has a few activities each week and start from there. It is easier to build up than to reduce after you have discovered that you are doing too much!

Within Management Engineering, there is the Institute of Industrial & Systems Engineers. There is also a Management Engineering design team called Industry 4.0 that provides students an opportunity to learn more about data analytics and management engineering concepts. The main activity of the team is running a high school competition (the first will be held in 2019).

There is a wide variety of clubs and activities available both within the Faculty of Engineering and the University of Waterloo as a whole. These are available from FEDS and the Engineering Society.

What kind of social activities do Management Engineering students do?

Management Engineering undergraduates from a close knit group and hold regular social activities. Examples of past events include movie nights, wine and cheese formals, spirit days, potlucks, and more!

Watch a former Management Engineering student describe what's it like to be a student in the program in the video below:

Remote video URL


What is the average salary after graduation?

We do not have average salary information for our graduates. However, you may be able to get an idea from the co-op earnings posted by Co-operative Education & Career Action or by searching online. Please keep in mind that the co-op data may vary based on a number of reasons, such as an individual student's experience, and it is not guaranteed that you will be making that amounts described in the data.