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Mechanical Engineering at University of Waterloo

Oliver (Alumni)

What did you wish you knew before going to your university? What made you choose this institution over all others? What are advantages and disadvantages of your institution or campus? List any advice for incoming first-year students about your university.

I wish I knew more about what student life entailed before attending UWaterloo. Although it was not far from my expectation, I expected more liveliness in the student population. This was not a big deal for me, since I chose this institution solely based off of the campus feel when I visited during high school. The innovative feel that was felt throughout the campus easily overcame the lack of student excitement at times. I feel that the most important factors in choosing a university should surround how you feel on campus, living in the city and the type of people attending with you. These factors really determine your overall enjoyment in university, especially the type of people as they are the ones who help you through hard times and are the ones you share your experiences with.

What did you wish you knew before choosing your specific program? What are the advantages and disadvantages of your program? List any advice for incoming first-year students about your program of study.

I wish I knew about the flexibility in changing programs earlier in your academic career and how easily it can be done. Since engineering requires an immediate entrance into the specific engineering type, it's easy to feel "locked in" to your program. However, you only start to learn more about what your engineering program has to offer after you select and start it, and it may not be what you expect or have an interest in. If this is the case, it's best to inquire about switching programs and assess if it's the right decision to switch programs or remain in the same one. Always strive for things that you have an interest in, it's the key to stay motivated and succeed!

What was your favourite university experience?

My final year of engineering! The final year consists of a year-long project, called the Capstone Project and this was a great way to learn new skill sets and be able to drive my own timeline of a project while independently making decisions with group members outside of the instruction of a professor. The final year is also when students choose their own technical electives, allowing for a more diverse and lighter course load which improved the overall balance of the year.

What was your least favourite university experience?

The second half of my first year was pretty rough since I had just went through a breakup. My motivation and desire to learn were both very low ultimately causing me to fall very far behind. I spent most of my days skipping class to play video games and attempting to "catch up". Things ended up working out in the end, but it was a very miserable experience. If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, it is very important to surround yourself with uplifting, understanding and helpful people. They are the ones who will help you prevail and push you back onto the right track. Don't be too hard on yourself if this happens, sometimes you need to accept that it is what it is and keep a balanced lifestyle for the sake of your mental health. If you don't get amazing grades for one term, it won't make-or-break your entire university experience, instead it will teach you resilience.

What is the hardest part about your program and what were the steps that you took to overcome any difficulties?

The hardest part of my program would have been the workload of third year. Third year involved many hours of lectures, group projects and labs. The way that the semesters were designed caused a whole ton of projects to have coinciding due dates in short periods of time. While juggling due dates and coordinating with group members on when to work on projects/labs, very little time was left to stay on top of lectures or even attend them at the very worst points. Time management was a skill I needed to develop and these semesters helped, although I would not say I was very skilled at it in the end. The way I coped with this was to accept that I can't do everything perfectly and attempted to evenly split my time between what was crucial. I did my best on the projects given the time left, while trying to fit in little bits of study time here and there. In the end, the overall class average was lower than previous terms which highlights that it's nearly impossible to do the term "perfectly".

If you were able to take electives, what was your favourite elective? If you were not able to take electives, what was your favourite course and why?

MTE 546 - Multi-Sensor Data Fusion

This course teaches different methods on how data is used from various points of collection given hardware/sensor limitations or performance characteristics to paint an accurate picture of what is physically happening. This course was very appealing to me since I am very interested in tech and is very relevant to cutting-edge technology in the industry.



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