Secondary Education In The Field Of Electrical And Computer Engineering
Q: Well, in less than 30 class days, I complete my high school career. Meaning I have to decide on a university to attend - not that I haven't thought about it, and yes, I have already applied to three reputable schools near me: the University of Waterloo, Computer Engineering; McMaster University, Engineering; and the University of Toronto, Computer Engineering. Though I am seriously favouring Waterloo at this point, I thought it might be a good idea to get the opinions of those with experience in getting jobs out of University, hiring those out of University, or working with those right out of University. I want to have the best possible shot at employment when I eventually graduate, and I thought that people in the industry might have a more realistic, balanced viewpoint than the admissions people (who, no offence, are sometimes reminiscent of the consumer electronics superstore salesman - our system is so much better than theirs, etc.) So, without further adieu, my questions: 1. I find myself at a crossroads between two work-study programs: Co-op and Internship. In the co-op system, I would work for four months at a job, every four months, and would usually have a contract for two work terms. The advantages I see here are a variety of experiences, and earning money gradually through my education. The four-month break every four months wouldn't be to bad either. In the internship model, I would go for a job for a year to 16 months, after my third year. Of course, I get basically no variety here, but would get more meaningful assignments than with Co-op. Plus, I'd still have a summer vacation at the same time as my friends - whom I still want to do things with. So, the question is this: which is better for this field? Each has it's own virtues, but which has benefited people out there more? 2. A shorter question: What do people out there know / think about my chosen programs and / or the calibre of the graduates? I'd really like to know what kind of a reputation these institutions have, not just here in Southern Ontario, Canada. Thanks for bearing with me through that long message. To those of you who consider this a waste of your download time, please, forgive me. To those who don't want to tie up the PICLIST with any further discussion on this, I welcome private messages sent to any of the below addresses.
A: Well, in less than 30 class days, I complete my high school career. Meaning I have to decide on a university to attend - not that I haven't thought about it, and yes, I have already applied to three reputable schools near me: the University of Waterloo, Computer Engineering; McMaster University, Engineering; Just "Engineering" ?! Hmm. (I think this is one of those things that means something different outside of the US, perhaps.) and the University of Toronto, Computer Engineering. I want to have the best possible shot at employment when I eventually graduate, and I thought that people in the industry might have a more realistic, balanced viewpoint than the admissions people... Employment doing what? (I shouldn't be so picky. Your idea of the ideal job is somwhat likely to change over the next several years.) There are about three types of places that will hire brand-new graduates. 1) Places that are big enough to train any new graduate with appropriate intelligence in their way of doing business. These are the ones that send a bunch of recruiters to your school. 2) Places where you have direct experience, via projects, classes, or employment, with exactly their line of business. 3) Places that have direct experience with YOU, such as your intern/coop/ summerjob employer(s), the school itself, etc... So, without further adieu, my questions: 1. I find myself at a crossroads between two work-study programs: Co-op [4M school, 4M work] and Internship [3Y school, 1Y work] So, the question is this: which is better for this field? Each has it's own virtues, but which has benefited people out there more? I predate much of the current excitement with work/study programs, but I worked on-campus in one of the computer departments, and had summer jobs (3Y worth) in the "technical computing" department of an oil company (via one of those special "summer internship for children of employees" deals. A (somewhat) relevant summer job is a great idea, if you can find one, but a non-relevant summer job isn't much use, IMO.) I'd say that if you're planning on working while at school and during the summers, you should go with the internship, while if you're planning on being in "study only" mode at school and taking real vacations, you should go with the coop setup. (Don't underestimate the variety you can experience in a year at a single company, though...) 2. A shorter question: What do people out there know / think about my chosen programs and / or the calibre of the graduates? I'd really like to know what kind of a reputation these institutions have, not just here in Southern Ontario, Canada. Waterloo is famous, although I don't know that I can think of anything off the top of my head that's come out of there since a couple of fortran compilers :-) U of Toronto I'm pretty sure I've heard has a good reputation. I don't think I've heard of McMaster (and I already mentioned the weirdness of a degree in engineering.) Without having looked at any curricula (?) in detail... You may find a computer science/computer engineering degree overly software intensive unless you augment it with a lot of EE classes. Unfortunately, that's more difficult than adding software classes to an EE program. I have in general a slight distrust for "expert programmers" who don't have a background in something "more substantial" to write software FOR. Since you seem to already have a substantial PC background (?), you should take care to pick classes and jobs that make you stretch rather than ones that you end up just "coasting" through. (take the pascal class instead of the basic class. Or do both - I audited the fortran class "required" for EEs (I was an EE) while also taking the PL/1 class "required" for CS majors, cause I was afraid that something would come up in EE where I'd NEED something they had taught in the fortran class (turned out not, but then most of the "advanced" CS classes used fortran rather than PL/1, too...)) Um. I am beginning to believe that there is a substantial advantage to attending a school that is NOT too close to home. Living "on your own" at a university will cause you to develop (hopefully) skills useful for (surprise) living on your own. Little things like being able to eat something other than fast food or someone else's cooking :-) If you wind up at Waterloo, see what they're doing now that is similar to the fortran compiler projects - getting involved in that kind of "exported technology" project can be exciting, rewarding, and put you in contact with a lot of people it might be nice to know when it's time to get a job. I can trace most of my career to ARPANet software hacking I did on the side of my part time "operator/Jr Systems Programmer" job... (if you don't wind up at Waterloo, see if they're doing anything like that anyway!)
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