COVER

COMPREHENSIVE

UNIVERSITY OF WATERLOO

JONATHON GATEHOUSE November 19 2001
COVER

COMPREHENSIVE

UNIVERSITY OF WATERLOO

JONATHON GATEHOUSE November 19 2001

COMPREHENSIVE

RANKINGS

UNIVERSITY OF WATERLOO

JONATHON GATEHOUSE

The first thing that strikes you about students at the University of Waterloo is how quickly they walk: faster than parliamentary assistants, Bay Street business people or rush-hour commuters. Arms pumping, legs churning, they burn across the park-like campus as if surging towards some invisible finish line.

Who knows if the students take their kinetic cues from the institution, but one thing is certain: there is a palpable sense of drive about the place. Waterloo, which placed first in the Comprehensive category, is renowned for its innovation and academic excellence, especially in the fields of science and technology. That buzz, combined with the allure of the country’s largest co-operative education program, has enabled the midsize Ontario university to attract more than its share of top-flight students. The minimum grade requirements for such elite programs as computer engineering, software engineering and systems design engineering is an average in the low to mid-90s with an outstanding list of extracurriculars.

Anton Andryeyev, a skinny 17-year-old who grew up near the Chernobyl nuclear facility in northern Ukraine, has only been in Canada for two years, yet managed to graduate from his Toronto high school with an average of 99.3 per cent. He had the highest mark in his English class, his third language. A winner of both a Millennium and Canadian Merit Fund scholarship, Andryeyev could have written his own ticket to any university in North America: he chose Waterloo. “I decided I was going to come here one month after I arrived in Canada,” says the freshman. The draws? The world’s largest centre for mathematical and computer sciences, a growing international reputation, and the promise of six work placements over the course of his studies. There is little doubt that Waterloo’s massive co-op program is the deal-clincher for the majority of its 17,500 undergraduates. The four-month work terms extend the process of getting a degree by one year. But students like Hugh Merz say it’s a small price to pay in return for a wealth of realworld knowledge. Merz, a 23-year-old from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., in his final year of physics, has worked at such places as Telesat Canada, plotting the movements of satellites, and Atomic Energy Canada’s Chalk River facility, creating computer models of reactor cores. The experience has been priceless. “I picked up a lot of technical savvy,” says Merz. “It makes for quite a hefty résumé.” The bonus, for Merz and many of his classmates? Healthy paycheques from co-op employers that can reduce or eliminate the need for student loans.

Bruce Lumsden, director of co-operative education and career services, agrees the money is helpful, but says the university is careful to keep the focus on learning. “It’s an educational model, not a business strat-

egy or Jobs ‘R’ Us,” he says. Waterloo, which was founded on the co-op model in 1957, now places more than 10,000 of its undergrads—including many from such programs as drama, German and political science—in the workforce every year. The worsening economy makes the task more difficult, but not impossible, says Lumsden: “It has always been a challenge.” The school has relationships with more than 3,000 employers, the vast majority of whom take fewer than five students. As a consequence, the effects of large-scale cutbacks in certain sectors are muted by the smaller companies who have come to depend on the relatively cheap students. Plans are also afoot to add placements with a variety of humanitarian organizations and NGOs.

It’s an expensive way to run a university. Waterloo needs to be open for business 12 months a year, offering a full slate of courses so that students can resume their academic lives. But president David John-

ston says the investment pays dividends: “Co-op keeps you innovative. Students and professors are in touch with the latest developments and technology.” Johnston, a tireless booster, wears a BlackBerry wireless e-mail unit, developed by Research in Motion Ltd., a Waterloo company founded \

by a former engineering student. A recent economic impact study, commissioned by the university, says Waterloo has spawned more than 250 “spinoff” companies. Several major construction projects, including an addition to the engineering lecture hall, a new co-op building, and a Centre for Environmental and Information Technology, are currently under way.

The vast number of students rotating on and off campus does pose challenges for the | social side of life. “There are certainly people I met at frosh week whom I haven’t been to school with since,” says Emily Rimas, a fourth-year systems design engineering student. A cross-country runner for the varsity team, she notes that she also missed a season of competition because of an out-of-town placement. Still, Rimas, who has had work terms at an autoparts | manufacturer, a private medical lab, and most recently at Microsoft’s Redmond, Wash., headquarters, says she has never felt in the least bit cheated. How many other people get to go to a barbecue at Bill Gates’s | house as part of their university education, | asks Rimas? “I would not give up my experience at Waterloo for anything.” EU

H:NIE

The Comprehensive universities are those with a significant amount of research activity and a wide range of programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels, including professional degrees

STUDENT BODY

Average Proportion Proportion Out Of

Entering With 75% Who Province International International Student Grade Or Higher Graduate (1st Year) (1st Year) (Graduate) Awards

Class Sizes-. Class Sizes:

1st And 3rd And

2nd Year Level

4th Year Level

Classe; Taught E Tenurei Faculty

1 Waterloo

2 Simon Fraser

3 Guelph

4 Victoria

5 Memorial

6 York

7 Regina

8 Carleton

9 Windsor

10 New Brunswick

11 Concordia

3 1 2

4 6

5

11

8

7

10

9

1*

3

1*

10

9

11

5

6 7

10

9

11

4*

3

1

6

10

2

11

9

4*

5 7

9 4

6

10

3

11

2

1

4

9 6 11

5

10 7 1 2 3

2

9

10 6 7 11 3

1

4 2

5

10

7

3

11

6

9

6

4

9 1

10 11

5

3

3

11

10

2

1

5

6*

4

6*

5 11 2 1

7

10

3

6 9

*Indicates a tie. Full description of the methodology, page 30.

REPUTATIONAL WINNERS

Maclean’s surveyed high-school guidance counsellors, university officials, heads of organizations, CEOs and recruiters at corporations across the country.

Highest

Quality

1. Waterloo

2. Guelph

3. Simon Fraser

4. Victoria

5. Memorial

Most

Innovative

1. Waterloo

2. Guelph

3. Simon Fraser

4. Victoria

5. York

Leaders of Tomorrow

1. Waterloo

2. Guelph

3. Simon Fraser

4. Memorial

5. Victoria

Best

Overall

1. Waterloo

2. Guelph

3. Simon Fraser

4. Victoria

5. Memorial

FiNANCES L UBRARY I REPUTATiON Awards Social Scholarships Student acuity Per Sciences & MedicaV & Bursaries Services Holdings With Full-time Humanities Science Operating (Percentage (Percentage Per Alumni Reputation~ PhDs Faculty Grants Grants Budget Of Budget) Of Budget) Student Acquisitions Expenses Support Survey 1 5* 5 8 3 7 8 6 8 1 1 2 1 3 1 8 11 11 2 6 5 3 4 5* 2 5 4 1 5 7 9 2 2 5 2 1 4 7 9 3 4 7 10 4 6 8 11 2 6 4 1 3 1 6 5 3 4 4 9 2 2 9 8 10 8 6 11 11 9 3 11 8 6 1 4 11 10 8 7 8 10 1 5 7 10 3 7 9 7 9 7 6 5 3 4 5 5 4 11 9 10 10 7 9 10 2 11 2 9 7 8 10 3 6 11 10 6 10 9 11 3 8