By: Cindy Howe, Administrative Coordinator, Faculty of Engineering Exchange Program
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 or even 4A (this is not permitted in all programs). But you must 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.
The Faculty of Engineering has exchange partnerships with about 70 top-tier universities in 30 countries around the world. So you need to investigate which partner best suits your needs; most 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 Engineering Exchange (or if the link doesn’t work, search for “Engineering Exchanges” from the UW home page). I would also like to invite you to attend one of the following information sessions: Monday, May 29 (11:30am OR 12:30pm) in the Multi-Media Lab (CPH-1346), or Tuesday, May 30 at 3:30pm in E5-6008. The presentation will also include information about working abroad.
On Facebook, look for the “Waterloo Engineering Exchanges” group, which is for all outbound and inbound exchange students (it’s moderated by me). The Faculty Exchange Office is located in Carl Pollock Hall, Room 2376D but, if you’d like to chat about your specific questions or concerns, please email to make an appointment to meet with me, either in-person or on Teams, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don’t let this opportunity pass you by! The application process takes more than a year of lead time. Applications are typically submitted by October 31 for the following academic year. For example, if you want to go on exchange for your 3B term (Fall 2025), your application must be submitted in Waterloo Passport by October 31, 2024.
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:
“ Do it! You will probably never have a better chance to actually live in a different country and immerse yourself in their culture. It is worth it for the travelling and learning but mostly for the people you meet. Do it to meet fun, crazy, unique, smart, interesting, kind, wonderful people from all over.”
Julia Scott, Systems Design Engineering
Exchanged to QUT (Queensland University of Technology), Australia
February to June 2020