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uOttawa 2nd Year Mechanical Engineering- AMA!

Hey everyone! I did one of these last year and it seemed to help a bunch of people so I thought it would be good to do one of these again. I'm currently in 2nd year Mechanical Engineering with co-op at uOttawa! Feel free to ask me anything about residence, campus life, living in Ottawa, academics (even outside of engineering), admission, etc etc! Whatever comes to mind! Some background info:

-I play on the quidditch team (it's a real thing and we're fantastic)
-I was in Civil Engineering first year, then switched into Mechanical this past summer
-I originally applied and got in for Electrical and Civil
-I lived in residence first year (go Stanton!) as I'm from the GTA

Ask away! :)
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I'm also very interested in civil.  Can u tell me why u switched out?  Also where do u live as I'm thinking  if commuting from Toronto and I'm wondering how difficult it would be?  And what was your gr q
12 average?  The cutoff marks are not posted 
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Hey there! I switched out of civil mainly because I realized I was truly passionate about aerospace, even though I did really enjoy civil. I lived in Mississauga, I live 15 minutes from school now. 

Not sure I understand your second question; are you talking about living in Toronto and going to school in Ottawa, or in terms of coming home for Thanksgiving and reading weeks?

My final avg was ~87 (i forget the exact avg tbh lol), but the admissions were around 83 for civil when I was applying!
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hey! how's engineering life like in ottawa? spirited? supportive? collaborative? how's the night life? also, what grades do i need to get accepted before feb?
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Supportive af! Great part is that everyone is already in there program, so you aren't competing for spots against anyone. Most of my friends are in eng as well and its a "we're all screwed together" type vibe. Believe me, you will not be able to graduate from engineering without a good support group of friends.

If you can hit an 85 i think you should be golden! this will also allow you to get a $2000 scholarship if i recall correctly. 

Night life is great. Gatineau is right across the river (18 to drink) and then the whole city is yours when you turn 19. Lots of cool attractions and great restaurants too
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Yes, I'm wondering how do you get back and forth to Ottawa from the GTA?  Train, bus??

What is the cost and how difficult is the commute?

Also what do you think about Carleton Engineering?  Why Ottawa over Carleton?

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Usually greyhound (~55 one way) or train (50-100 one way). It's an easy trip, only downside is you get dropped off in downtown toronto so that might be difficult for you to get to. i actually flew home for christmas too, as my last exam was on dec 23 (it was awful lol). That was only 150 one way.

uOttawa's Engineering is top 5 in the country. We have a very strong program, and all the engineering programs have co-op. To be honest, the program here is just overall better, even among employer reputation. Not to knock Carleton, uOttawa is just kind of an engineering school. For me, i also chose uO for the french, scholarships, and campus!
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The fact that at Ottawa you graduate with a B.sc vs a B.eng concerns me.  Your thoughts?

 

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Here you get a B.A.Sc. And believe me, as someone who has worked in an engineering job, it literally means absolutely nothing at all. No clue where the idea came from that it really means anything, but don't let it deter you from applying to any schools. It's weird tbh, so many people have this impression that the type of degree matters but really what matters is the word "engineering" lol. don't sweat it my friend.
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What are the differences between Carleton and Ottawa's engineering programs?

Carleton has more programs than Ottawa.

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uOttawa is top 5 in the country for its engineering. we have the second largest co-op program in ontario as well with a 99% placement rate. uOttawa is mostly known as an engineering and science school, Carleton is more for journalism and architecture. my best advice would be to visit the schools and check out the facilities; see where you fit in best because an engineering degree from any school is only as worthwhile as you make it out to be
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"CO-OP programs have limited enrolment. Meeting the admission criteria does not guarantee you a place. Admission is based on your CGPA. We admit those with the highest CGPA first." as per the Engineering Faculty for UOttawa.  So, its not a true Co-op Program
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not sure what you're trying to explain here, but i can tell you a bit about co-op at uottawa, which is similar to most schools:

co-op isn't mandatory, and is an option you can add to your degree with limited space. similar to your actual program, you get admitted based on marks. if you apply out of high school to the co-op program, and are accepted, then all you need to do to secure a spot in co-op is achieve a 8.0 CGPA. for the remaining spots it becomes competitive admission for those who did not have guaranteed. once you are in the co-op option (think of it like a specialization), the placement rate for students is usually around 99%. 

hope this helps!
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I want to start off by thanking you for this forum. I have a few questions.
1) How hard is it to get an 8+ cGPA at UOttawa (and thereby secure COOP) vs. getting the same at U of T? 
2) What are the class averages usually, for mechanics, computing, etc? 
3) Do the profs bell curve?
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No problem! I love helping out younger students with these kinds of things:

1) Getting an 8.0 CGPA is absolutely attainable (I got a 9.4 first year). It does however require that you work hard and practice good study habits. I found a good group of friends in engineering which really helped with studying as it was a collaborative effort.

In terms of UofT, I haven't gone there myself, but I have heard ONLY negative things from students going there. Especially engineering and sciences. They will weed you out and you will fail. My opinion is to AVOID AT ALL COSTS as being part of a class of 2000 where you struggle for 30% is NOT worth the UofT reputation. Go somewhere where you fit in and position yourself to succeed.

2) class averages are usually 50-70, depending on the class. there are lots of people who think they're smart enough to get by without trying which isn't true 99% of the time. those people usually drop after 1st or 2nd year. 

3) some do, some don't. most have some kind of system in place where if you do better on the final the weight of the midterm will be transferred over by a certain amount. the best of these was linear algebra, where if you do better on the final than any of the 4 tests (which is a lot), the weight of that test is fully transferred to the final :)
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Jesus Christ, OP you are so misinformed about Uoft, it's embarrassing. No one expects you to know everything, but in general, intelligent people keep their mouths shut on topics they don't anything about. 

Speaking from personal experience, 9/10 classes in first year engineering at Uoft for me were less than 100 students…You are utterly clueless and should be ashamed. 
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Hey there! Thanks for your input! As I'm sure you've read I actually don't go to UofT myself, and I've explained that these are MY personal views based solely on what other people have told me. Would love to hear more about your experience as it seems to be vastly different from what I've heard from several friends and alumni.

The reason I'm advising against UofT is because I've only heard negative things, and know several people who have had to drop out of their dream school during first year. I'm from the GTA and I understand that several families move to the Toronto area so their kids can go to UofT, and then are shocked when they drop out of a school that isn't right for them. There is no doubt that it is a fantastic school and is often rated as the best in Canada. The problem is that it isn't the best school for the majority of people, and I want prospective university students to end up somewhere where they really belong.

Since this is a discussion thread primarily for students in high school to try and get some info about university, I think it would be valuable if you described your personal experience at UofT, and included a bit of information such as your year and program. It would definitely be better than insulting someone's intelligence because their opinion doesn't line up with your personal experience. Remember also that you're a reflection of the type of people who go to your school, so I think it would be in everyone's best interest if you kept your reply as respectful as possible. 

Thanks, looking forward to hearing about your experience! :)
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Well, I shouldn't have been so crass with my original comment so I'm sorry about that. My basic point still holds: you were emphatically making false claims about a school and program you (evidently) don't know anything about while presenting them as facts. You can't save face by hiding behind the "technically it's just my opinion" shield and playing nice. You're claiming you're trying to help students make informed decisions. For the most part, this thread has been great and you've done exactly that. But some of your comments contradict that intended goal and you are too easily overcome with this bias that you have. You were clearly clever enough in your comment to try to turn the tables and shame me (thereby skirting any accountability for your misinformation yourself), so I'll give you props for that.  

Anyways, firstly, I'm sure you actually *did* hear a lot of those negative opinions about the school. However, one thing that is important to note here is the stark distinction between the faculty of arts and science (which most Uoft students belong to) and the faculty of engineering (which is the faculty of interest here). They are completely different. A lot of the rumours you mention apply reasonably well to art/science, but not to engineering. You will definitely have massive classes in arts/sci for a lot of programs. In engineering, there are ~1000 students in a given YEAR (across all disciplines), so you're obviously not going to have 2000 students in one class (a number you threw out there before). Regardless of discipline size, most students (starting in the very first year) will be in classrooms of ~100 students (there is one exception in first year only where there is one course that has a big class of several hundred). In upper years, those classes can shrink down to 20-30 or even lower, depending on your course selection and discipline.

Class averages are completely normal. No one is scraping to get a 30%. Averages are typically C+ to B range (i.e. high 60 to mid 70) and they may go up in upper years when classes get smaller and more specialized. The big "weed out" course or the big challenge for most engineering students at any school is calculus 2. Approximately 5% failed calc 2 in my year, so that might give you an idea for how uncommon failure is. 

People certainly fail individual courses but very, very few fail entire terms. The retention rate from 1st to 2nd year is high at. I've heard figures in the 90-95% range quoted, but I cannot confirm that. Anyways, it is a myth that the engineering faculty weeds students out and tries to fail people. Retention rate is high because the engineering faculty only admits very good students.

Profs are a mixed bag as they are at any school. My experience with them has been overall very positive although there are some who are just terrible. 

Once again, I will reiterate: the engineering faculty is completely separate from Uoft at large. Most of the negative rumours you might hear about the school have some truth to them, but they don't directly apply to engineering. As OP eloquently put it, what's most important for every individual student is to find the right school for them. I am definitely NOT saying everyone should want to come to Uoft engineering. Find what works for you and figure out where you will succeed. 

I apologize for the heated comment and I'm sorry for partially derailing this thread.
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Appreciate your honesty man. My mistake for failing to distinguish between science and engineering faculties, clearly there is a big difference that I had no idea about. I've tried to make it clear in other comments when I'm speaking from second-hand information or when I'm giving my personal opinion, but definitely my bad for spreading misinformation. Most of the feedback I've heard about UofT has been from science students/alumni and I made the mistake of associating that with engineering. My personal bias after seeing so many friends drop out definitely took over while I was commenting. A lot of what I was saying was rehashing what I had been told who graduated UofT, which isn't fair to the school as that's one person's experience. Thanks again for being so helpful and understanding. Will definitely keep all this info on hand for future reference. Take care.
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Agree with Anon^, UofT engineering is different from sciences. Its easy to get into sciences and then weed out begins. Its hard to get into engineering, but they take you since they know you'll pass. Also, so-called "failures" usually just drop certain courses and re-take them, very rarely does someone "drop out" from the engineering degree.
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Is it necessary/beneficial to be able of speak French at uottawa???
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not at all necessary, yes it definitely can be beneficial but don't worry if you don't speak a word of french, you will still fit in! :)
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Hi, I'm a grade 12 student trying to decide what to do next year. I'm thinking about engineering (or an astronomy/astrophysics program??) and I'm looking at uOttawa. First, what exactly is the coop program? How does it work? Also, is it easy to switch engineering disciplines? Because I'm thinking about mechanical but I don't know. 
And how difficult are you finding the academics? Is it easy to balance your course load and a social life/sports/clubs?
And are you doing French immersion or anything?
Thanks! Sorry about all the questions aha.
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Hey there! As an aspiring astronaut myself, I would definitely say you will find more opportunities with engineering vs astrophysics/astronomy. However if that's your passion then by all means do it!

CO-OP is basically the school providing you connections and opportunities to gain PAID work experience through 4 month internships. It adds time to your degree, however it's totally worth it as you get some good coin and fantastic experience. They can even help you go international (which is what I'd like to do), and provide some scholarships to help you go. You apply for CO-OP either when you apply for university, or in the fall of your second year. If you get in, then it's a full process where you will attend interviews and meet with employers to secure a job for summer after second year, after which you go on a school-work-school-work rotation.

Is it easy switching engineering disciplines? Yes, if you do it early. I switched from civil to mechanical after first year and there was only a one course difference, so i don't have much catching up to do. You can still do it later on but it does become a little harder and will add time to your degree.

Academics are tough, but totally doable. It's all about your work ethic, study habits, and finding balance. I play quidditch which takes up a lot of time, and am now doing BAJA (off road car team), but if you have good time management skills it's all fine. Being involved actually helps so much and even if it drops your grades by a bit, employers value that stuff way more if you have good involvement.

No I'm not doing french immersion; I'd like to, but my skills just aren't that good. i did take french throughout high school though.

No problem! let me know if you have any more! :)
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Hey,

Do you know anything about the biomedical mechanical with computing technology program? Could you switch to Health sciences later on? Also, you mentioned a pre calculus test, what is that?

Thanks

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Hey there! I know that it will be damn tough lol, but worth it in the end. Check out the course sequence here to get a real idea:
 http://engineering.uottawa.ca/sites/default/files/pdf/2014/Course-sequence-MGB+IT.pdf

adding the computing option to your degree makes it super difficult, but definitely worth it IF you enjoy computing. otherwise you just won't be happy and that isn't worth it.

Could you switch to health sciences? Not sure; realistically you can switch to anything, however it might mean starting from scratch. My girlfriend was able to switch from Biomedical Science to Health Science, since some of her credits transferred over, and the rest counted as electives. Might be harder going from biomed mech + computing to health sci as there would be little to no crossover.

I forget where I mentioned that, but i think i may have been talking about the diagnostic test you need to do for calc 1. It's all on advanced functions, and if you don't pass it they will make you drop calc 1 and take a pre-calc course instead.

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I've seen some course sequences for engineering and and I was wondering how the classes worked out, (when do you have lectures/labs?)
Plus, it seems like the course loads increase to 6 in the second year, how does that work? 
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Lectures and labs could be anywhere from 8:30 am-10 pm. Usually you'll have 1-4 classes a day in engineering, maybe 5 if it's super heavy. Latest class i've had is 7-10 pm, earliest are 8:30 am (which are very common). For each class you have 3 hrs of lecture (mostly split into 1.5 hr blocks on separate days), 1.5 hrs of DGD (tutorial), and 3 hrs of lab (if the class has a lab portion), every other week.

Right now I'm in 6 courses, it's super heavy and time is your most valuable resource, so definitely develop some time management skills. Most universities do 6 courses per semester for engineering.
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9.4 GPA is INSANE-, but  you believe there is a legitimate cause to go to U of T over U Ottawa, since it has a "better" reputation? What's your workload like vs. someone from U of T? i.e. how many hours are expended each day? 

Also, does UOttawa look at courses outside my top 6? What if I fail a course that's not a pre-req but not in my top 6?
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PERSONALLY I don't think there's any reason to go to UofT for engineering (unless it's grad school). Reputation doesn't mean much for undergrad. Our workloads are probably pretty similar, just the work they do is a lot harder, even though the material is the exact same. Profs are not there to help you; you're basically just a revenue-generator for the university. Here it's a lot more of a community and your biggest class size will be ~350, compared to waaaaay bigger at UofT. Engineering at most schools is around 40 hrs of class a week.

uOttawa will look at your top 6 only. Prereqs will be included in top 6, and since there are 5 for engineering (calc, adv functions, chem, phys, english), only one other course counts. So don't worry about failing one that isn't included
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Hey Sheldon,

For the coop, do people usually get relevant engineering jobs? For e.g., if I am doing electrical engineering, do I have a reasonable chance of getting some intern position relevant to my field? 

Secondly, how bad do people's averages drop IN GENERAL (i.e. nothing spectacular). If someone has a 90 average in gr 12, would that be about a 70-75?
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Yes! We've been told that for co-op, you can apply for jobs outside your field but still related (eg a job with Tesla even if you're in chem eng), as long as it has some relevance. There are plenty of engineering jobs so if you do get placed it will most certainly have something to do with your field of study. That's what the whole CO-OP program exists for! :)

People's marks in university change for a number of reasons. The biggest is effort. If you coasted your way through high school and think you will be able to coast through university, you are absolutely wrong. People's averages fluctuate a lot, especially depending on how long it takes to adjust to university level academics. For me personally, out of all my friends I had the lowest average in high school. Right now, I have the highest of all of them (knock on wood, LOL). It all comes down to work ethic, balance, and enjoying what you study. Find methods that work for you and don't be afraid to change your style. Work hard, make good friends who you can work with, and you should be doing well.
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Hello! Im really interested in going to Ottawa for probably the mechanical engineering. I was just wondering what the residences are like. I am a more introverted person and I'd really like to have my own space but still be part of the whole residence scene. Could you tell me a bit about the different residences from a student's point of view? Also, say if I am accepted and choose to go to uOttawa then how would I apply for residence and how do they assign spaces? Thank you!
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Traditional residences (Stanton, Marchand, Thompson, Leblanc) are definitely the most social and give you that awesome university experience. 90U is good too, as it offers a bit more privacy, however it's more expensive and is the first one to fill up. I loved my time in Stanton, and knew quite a few more introverted people who had single rooms (I had a double) and very much enjoyed it.

Should you accept your offer to uOttawa (congrats!), apply for residence as soon as possible. The sooner you apply, the more likely you are to get your top pick. You end up ranking the residences on your housing form and will find out anywhere from may-july where you end up.

Definitely though I recommend Stanton or Marchand. Being in the rez complex is great, you're right in the middle of campus and it's just where everything goes on!
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Hi! I was reading the earlier questions & answers and saw you're an aspiring astronaut. I'm also interested in space, and I think I'm going to apply to Ottawa for mechanical engineering. Since you're also in the program do you know if there are coop opportunities available with companies who work in the space field, like maybe even the Canadian space agency?? Thanks!
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Hi there! Currently I'm looking into finding those jobs; right now the job application part of co-op isn't up yet so I can't see what's available. I know the CSA does offer internships, so I'm hoping uOttawa has connections. Otherwise I'll be applying to other space companies (Boeing, SpaceX, etc) externally! Will definitely update you with what happens
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hey! when do acceptances for engineering go out?
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early acceptances (based on gr 11 marks) go out in december. after that it will be anywhere from feb/mar right up until the end of may :)
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Hey there,
I am currently a Grade 12 student applying to engineering programs as back-up options, (wanting to get into McMaster Health Sciences mainly).
I have a 96% average currently in 4 University level courses. If I apply to software engineering, do you think UofT computer (software) engineering is able-to-handle? Is it that BAD? Is it like even hard to PASS during first year?
I am also applying to UOttawa, but I live in Peel Region and UofT is closer, and higher of a reputation and cut-off is high as well. I really want to UTILIZE my high school marks to get into a place of high cut-off. In another sense, higher cut-off means high reputation. What would u recommend in my case?
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