University of Waterloo
Hello, and welcome to the WRX Property Group website and blog! We’ve been discussing the three major post-secondary institutions available in Kitchener-Waterloo over the past three days (so far, we’ve covered Conestoga College and Wilfrid Laurier University).
Today, we move onto the final university of our series: the University of Waterloo (UW). In many ways, the success of UW is tied up with the success with Kitchener-Waterloo as a whole; things like Velocity (UW’s official startup and entrepreneurial program, which runs a large office out of downtown Kitchener’s innovative Tannery District, in addition to on-campus facilities) mean UW is a major contributor to Kitchener-Waterloo’s economy, and a major reason why many choose to call the Region home.
So let’s check out UW, and all the things that make it great!
Like Wilfrid Laurier University, the University of Waterloo traces its history back to the early twentieth-century, when the Waterloo Lutheran Seminary grew into Waterloo College. The University of Waterloo began to take on its current form and identity in 1956.
Ira Needles (yes, the same Ira Needles whose name graces Ira Needles Boulevard and its Boardwalk), a Waterloo resident since the mid 1920s, endeavoured to create a new, non-denominational learning environment. The Cold War, the Space Race, and a general sense of urgency with regard to pushing science and technology forward were on Ira Needles and fellow Kitchener-Waterloo industrialists’ minds when they envisioned what was to become the University of Waterloo (UW).
From its inception, UW has emphasized co-operative education – students working outside of the classroom, and participating in their respective industries. By 1960, Waterloo College, the Waterloo College Affiliated Faculties, and St. Jerome’s College (an originally German-speaking, Roman Catholic college that had served Waterloo County since 1865) had coalesced into one entity: the University of Waterloo.
As time marched on, UW incorporated more Faculties, pushing the institution beyond its initial Applied Sciences focus – the Faculty of Art opened in 1960, the Department of Kinesiology opened in 1969 (the first of its kind in the world), and more would come over time.
Back in 1957, UW consisted of 74 students, and its focus was on Engineering and co-operative education. Today, Engineering and co-op remain integral parts of the UW experience and identity, but there are presently over 30 000 undergraduate students, and over 5000 grad students.
UW has a well-established reputation as a leader in technology; it’s both an innovator, and an agent of change within the Waterloo Region and the wider world. It’s an elite institution: over half of its students have an entrance average of over 90% (as of 2015, according to the UW website), and it consistently performs very well in reviews of Canadian Universities.
In the Maclean’s ‘Canada’s Top Comprehensive Schools 2018’ list, UW ranked 3rd overall (out of 15) and placed 1st on the Reputational Survey. In terms of overall reputation of all Canadian Universities, UW placed 2nd (it was beaten only by the much larger University of Toronto).
Finally, UW has been recognized for specific achievements quite frequently over the years; it’s been ranked the most Innovative University in Canada for 26 years in a row by Maclean’s, and it is consistently ranked as one of the top schools for Computer Science and Engineering in Canada (the U.S.
News and World Report Best Global Universities 2017 ranked it as #1 in this field). All of this is to say that UW is an excellent school, from an academic standpoint.
The University of Waterloo has six Faculties: Applied Health Sciences; Arts; Engineering; Environment; Mathematics; and Science. Each Faculty is further subdivided into several Departments, Schools, and Programs; for example, the Faculty of Engineering is comprised of the School of Architecture; the Conrad Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology Centre; the Department of Chemical Engineering; the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering; the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering; the Department of Management Sciences; the Department of Mechanical & Mechatronics Engineering; and the Department of Systems Design Engineering.
The Faculty of Arts, for example, has 26 Bachelor’s programs, 17 Master’s programs, and 11 PhD programs. UW’s affiliated and federated Institutions (Conrad Grebel University College; Renison University College; St. Jerome’s University; and St. Paul’s University College), and their Satellite Campuses (Kitchener, Cambridge, and Stratford) each have specific offerings, and distinctive communities, as well.
You can’t discuss UW without talking about their fabulous co-operative education program. It’s a big part of what makes UW such an integral part of Kitchener-Waterloo, and why UW is such an attractive option for career-minded students.
Co-op works in balance with study; students alternate terms of research and study with terms of work placements. In most cases, a co-op program lasts 5 years, with around 3 years of academic study, and up to 2 years of work.
Why is this so great? Well, just to list a few reasons: students can build connections within their chosen field of work; students can both develop theoretical understandings and put these into practice in the work place, gaining real-world experience; students can work with industry leaders within the Waterloo Region, or elsewhere – even abroad (in the 2016/17 term, students worked in over 60 different countries).
Last, and certainly not least, students are paid for their work terms (by their employers)! Pay rates vary based on program of study and experience, of course, but according to the UW website, students earn an average of $13 800 per work term (co-op programs consist of 4-6 work terms).
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The Waterloo Warriors are UW’s team; their mascot is King Warrior, and their colours are Gold, Black, and White. There are a variety of sports available for students to participate in or root for (if you find yourself in the audience, the cheer goes “Water Water Water!
Loo Loo Loo!”). Though UW’s reputation for academics and innovation certainly outshines their athletic record, the Waterloo Warriors are still an honoured part of the university. There are several facilities available to students, including Warrior Field, where the football, soccer, and field hockey teams play (as well as various clubs and recreational activities).
The Physical Activity Complex has multiple gyms, basketball courts, a pool, and more. The Columbia Ice Field, where the Warriors’ hockey teams play, has multiple gyms and fitness facilities. Finally, there are several additional outdoor fields available, particularly for soccer and rugby.
The University of Waterloo’s main campus is located in the heart of Waterloo, between Columbia Street West, University Avenue West, and Westmount Road North. There is plenty to see and do on the campus itself, and the Federation of Students (for all undergrads) and the Graduate Student Association ensure there are always exciting events and useful services available.
The Federation of Students runs nearly 200 clubs, covering a wide range of interests. UW has eight student residences, of varying sizes, and there are a variety of residences at affiliated colleges. The Student Life Centre is an important place for students, as it hosts events and activities throughout the year, seven days a week; the Student Life Centre and the Physical Activities Complex are going to be expanded by fall of 2018.
The University of Waterloo is a fantastic institution. It’s no wonder that many of Kitchener-Waterloo’s (and Canada’s) industry leaders have ties here (including, of course, Mike Lazaridis, founder of BlackBerry Limited [formerly known as Research in Motion]); David Johnston, Canada’s 28th Governor General, served as UW’s President (David Johnston Research and Technology Park bears his name).
A long history of innovation, and an emphasis on co-operative education, have ensured that UW is, above all, a productive university. The students who pass through its halls will acquire skills and training that will allow them to carve out a path in the world.
Kitchener-Waterloo is one of the most exciting places to be in Canada, and UW is a big reason why.
Written by Will Kummer