Engineering Exchange?? But I’m only in 1B!!

Prof. Richard Culham - Associate Dean, International
Posted on: May 19, 2018

Yes it IS too early in your academic career to go on an international exchange but it’s NOT too early to start planning for it!


It’s a great opportunity and privilege but you must prepare, organize and plan.  You could be among the 15% of your class who go on this once-in-a-lifetime experience.  Most students go on exchange in 3A or 3B or both.  But you have to start planning early!


What is an academic exchange?  You’ll get to spend one or two academic terms at a partner university where you’ll take courses equivalent to those your classmates will be taking at UW.  It is common practice for engineering exchange students to remain on the same academic schedule as the rest of their cohort and graduate with their class.


We have exchange partnerships with over 80 top-tier universities in about 30 countries around the world.  So you need to investigate which partner best suits your needs; many of our exchanges are restricted in numbers, some are open only to certain disciplines of engineering, for others you need to learn a new language.  In some cases, it’s best to go for a one-term exchange; in others, two terms work out best.


All this is a part of planning for your future career which could take you anywhere in the world.


To get started, visit our website (search for “Engineering Exchanges” from the UW home page) for all the details.


On Facebook, look for the “Waterloo Engineering International” group, which is for all outbound and inbound exchange students as well as all things international.  It’s moderated by Cindy Howe, the Administrative Coordinator of engineering exchanges as well as the EngSoc Exchange Directors.  By the way, Cindy’s office is Carl Pollock Hall, Room 3658 and she can be reached at  Be sure to arrange a meeting with her to chat about the exchange possibilities for you.


Don’t let this opportunity pass you by!  The application process takes more than a year of lead time.  Applications must be submitted by November 1 for the following academic year.  For example, if you want to go on exchange for your 3B term (Fall 2020), your application must be submitted on Waterloo Passport by November 1, 2019:


Finally, exchange is great for fun, travel and adventure.  You’ll visit parts of the world that stay-at-home students may never experience.  Don’t take my word for it; read what a recent exchanger had to say:


The cultural experience alone has helped me grow so much as a person. Immersing myself in and adapting to a completely unfamiliar culture is such a valuable learning experience and it really taught me a lot. Academically, I feel as if I came back from exchange a stronger student as I really meshed well with the style of teaching in the Netherlands. The professors were all very well educated and interesting to learn from, and it was interesting to see how engineers across the world are taught to approach certain problems. This experience has helped me professionally as I have made quite a few connections with professors at TU Delft, and I have learned so much about so many different European cultures that I more equipped to adapt to different people in the workplace.

Brenda Zuccaro, NanoEngineering

Exchanged to TU Delft, Fall 2017


And when asked what advice she would give to students contemplating an exchange:  “JUST DO IT!”

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