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Top undergraduate questions

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Program questions

What programs do you offer?

We offer seven programs: biomedical engineering; civil engineering; computer science; computer engineering; electrical engineering; software engineering and mechanical engineering. Within these programs, there are many options and specializations you can choose to customize your degree.

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Do you offer chemical engineering?

No. Depending on what part of chemical engineering interests you, mechanical engineering might be a good alternative.

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Do you offer environmental engineering?

Within Mechanical Engineering, you can specialize in energy systems. You could explore your interest further by joining the Ecocar team.

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I'm interested in airplanes -- what should I go into?

Within Mechanical Engineering, you can specialize in fluids and aerodynamics. Other ways to explore your interest include joining UVic Aero or getting an aerodynamics-related co-op job.

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I'm interested in designing cars -- what should I go into?

Mechanical Engineering is probably your best option. Other ways to explore your interest include joining Formula SAE or the EcoCAR team or getting an aerodynamics-related co-op job.

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I want to work in the gaming industry -- what should I take?

Within Computer Science, you can do an option in computer graphics and games. Depending on which aspect of gaming interests you, the Combined Program in Computer Science and Music or the Combined Program in Computer Science and Visual Arts might also be good choices.

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I want to do architecture -- should I do my undergrad degree in Engineering?

No. To prepare for architecture, you need to take a broad range of courses, which you won't really have space for in your Engineering program. For more information on architecture, please see the Pre-Professional Guide.

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What's the difference between your programs?

To answer this question, imagine an iPod:

  • A mechanical engineer would be interested in the mechanical systems -- things like the thumbwheel, the design and manufacture of the case.
  • An electrical engineer would be interested in the electrical systems -- for example, how small can you make the battery before it explodes? They'd also work with the sound system. There are a lot of sound and music applications in Electrical Engineering.
  • A computer engineer mainly deals in hardware, so they'd be interested in the screen, the computer chip itself.
  • Software engineers and computer scientists deal mainly in software, so they'd be the ones who wrote the program and figured out the interface.

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What's the difference between software engineering and computer science?

  • Software engineering , like all our engineering programs, gets you ready to be a professional engineer. This has a precise, legal definition in Canada. Engineers have to have taken certain courses and have practical experience and ethics training. If you don't meet these requirements, you can't legally call yourself a professional engineer. When you go and apply for a job and say "I'm an engineer", an employer knows what that means and what they can count on you to do. There are some jobs that only an professional engineer can legally have -- usually things involving safety or security.
  • Computer Science , on the other hand, is much more flexible. There are many fewer things you have to do to be considered a computer scientist. For example, you can choose to be a computer scientist who really focuses on the practical end, like a software engineer, or you can choose to be a computer scientist who really focuses on the science end. You can even choose to be a computer scientist who works in an interdisciplinary field. You have a lot of choices and a lot of freedom. The flip side is that when you go an apply for a job and say "I'm a computer scientist," you'll have to work a bit harder to explain what exactly you're good at.

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What is engineering?

Engineering is a field that applies the discoveries of science to the design and creation of things that are safe, reliable and practical. The things that engineers design and create depend on which branch of engineering they're trained in. See our programs page for more information about the branches of engineering that UVic offers.

All our engineering programs get you ready to be a professional engineer; this has a precise, legal definition in Canada. Engineers have to have taken certain courses and have practical experience and ethics training. If you don't meet these requirements, you can't legally call yourself a professional engineer. There are some jobs that only professional engineers can legally do -- usually things involving safety or security.

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What is computer science?

Computer science is the study of how computing devices can extend and support the abilities of the human mind. In the beginning, most of computer science focused on mathematical abilities. Today, computer scientists work on systems that can extend and support a wide range of abilities -- everything from our abilities to socialize and relate to our abilities to reason and strategize. For more information about computer science at UVic, see the Computer Science site.

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What program options do you have?

We have dozens! Please see our program options page.

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Can I go on an exchange program while in your program?

If you're interested in exchange programs, please contact your academic adviser after enrolling at UVic. Generally speaking, Computer Science programs are easier to combine with an exchange program. Engineering programs are more structured and therefore more difficult to combine with an exchange program. Other opportunities for students in either program to travel include the co-op program and Engineers Without Borders.

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Why should I choose UVic over another school?

Of course, we can't speak for any other school, but here are some of the things we think make Engineering and Computer Science at UVic special:

  • Amazing job prospects. Recent surveys have shown that 94% of our grads find work immediately, with starting salaries around $56,000.
  • Diverse options. We offer dozens of ways to customize your degree and focus on what you're really into.
  • Real-life learning. Our co-op program lets you incorporate 16 months of paid, relevant work experience into your degree.
  • Inspired teaching in small classes. Our smaller class sizes let you get the support and recognition that make the difference.
  • Spectacular location. UVic is located on Canada's fabulous west coast, where you can work and play in a fun, vibrant city surrounded by mountains, rain forests and the Pacific Ocean.

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What are class sizes like?

The average class size in our faculty is 28.

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How long does a degree take?

With the co-op program, an engineering or computer science degree takes 4 years and 8 months. If a computer science student chooses not to participate in co-op, their degree will take 3 years and 8 months.

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I applied to one program, but I'd rather be in a different one. What should I do?

Send an email to the recruitment officer, giving your full name, UVic student number, which program you applied to and which program you'd prefer to be in. They'll forward your request to Admissions, who will re-evaluate your application on the basis of your new program choice.

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What computer and software do I need?

The Engineering and Computer Science buildings have computer labs with all the software you need, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you would like to also have your own computer, consider:

  • You may want to wait until you come to UVic to purchase your computer. We have a computer store on campus that offers special deals on hardware and software to students. Much of their inventory is online under the "Products" tab.
  • Because you'll tend to work in a variety of places and have to move between the university and co-op placements, a laptop as opposed to a desktop is often more practical.
  • Any machine should have at least 128 MB of RAM and be expandable to 256 or even better 512.
  • Besides basic word processing and spreadsheet software, you will gradually require new software as you progress in your courses. It is best to wait until you need them to buy them.
  • You should realize that due to rapid growth in memory and speed requirements as new versions of software are released a computer purchased at the beginning of year 1 might no longer be entirely suitable by fourth year.

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What programming languages do you use in your courses?

Courses in first and second year use Java and C. Depending on which upper year courses you take, you may also learn other languages.

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What textbooks do I need?

Textbook requirements can change from year to year, as new editions are published or new instructors begin to teach. A few months before the term begins, an official textbook list will be available on the UVic Bookstore site.

Co-op questions

Please see our co-op questions page.

Career questions

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What kind of jobs do computer science grads get?

UVic computer science grads have jobs like:

  • System Architect and Technical Team Lead, Google Inc., Mountain View, California
  • Game Designer, Microsoft, Redmond, Washington
  • Senior Software Developer, IBM Canada, Victoria, BC
  • Vice President Research and Development, ACD Systems, Victoria, BC
  • Director, Music Technology Program, California Institute of the Arts
  • Programmer, Eisen Lab, University of California Berkeley
  • Senior Architect, Sierra Systems, Victoria, BC
  • Software Designer, Schneider Electric, Saanichton, BC
  • Instructor, Camosun College, Victoria, BC

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What kind of jobs do computer engineering grads get?

UVic computer engineering grads have jobs like:

  • Software Development Engineer, Amazon.com, Seattle, WA
  • Telus Innovation Program Manager, Telus, Burnaby, BC
  • Marketing Manager, Gemstar Asia Ltd., Hong Kong
  • Senior System Engineer, Raytheon Canada, Richmond, BC
  • Director of Research & Development Engineering, Rane Corporation, Mukilteo, WA
  • Security Research Engineer, Network Associates, Glenwood, MD
  • Computer Engineer, ICL Botswana, Gabarone, Botswana
  • IP Networking Specialist, Nortel, Ottawa, ON
  • Embedded Hardware/Firmware Developer, Power Measurement Ltd, Saanichton, BC

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What kind of jobs do electrical engineering grads get?

UVic electrical engineering grads have jobs like:

  • Senior Design Engineer, Nokia, Burnaby, BC
  • VP Business Strategy, Carmanah Technologies Corporation, Victoria, BC
  • Instrumentation Engineer, Syncrude Canada Ltd, Fort McMurray, AB
  • Project Manager, IBM Canada, Burnaby, BC
  • Broadcast Network Engineer, Telus, Vancouver, BC
  • Radio and Electronics Engineer, BC Ministry of Transportation and Highway, Victoria, BC
  • Communication Systems Engineer, Bombardier Mass Transit Divisions, Saint-Bruno, QC
  • Partner, GFI Energy Ventures LLC, Los Angeles, CA
  • Systems Engineer, Raytheon Systems Canada Ltd., Richmond, BC

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What kind of jobs do mechanical engineering grads get?

UVic mechanical engineering grads have jobs like:

  • Fuel Cell Engineer, Tekion, Burnaby, BC
  • Principal Manufacturing Engineer, Medtronic Vascular, Santa Rosa, CA
  • Development Manager, Carmanah Technologies, Victoria, BC
  • Marine Systems Engineering Officer, Canadian Forces Naval Engineering School, Halifax, NS
  • Production Engineer, Petro-Canada Oil & Gas, Fort St. John, BC
  • Mill Mechanical Engineer, Kemess Mines Ltd, Smithers, BC
  • Engineer, Daimler Chrysler Aerospace, Richmond, BC
  • Design Engineer, Race Face Performance Products, New Westminster, BC
  • Building Code Engineer, City of Vancouver, Vancouver, BC

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What kind of jobs do software engineering grads get?

UVic software engineering grads have jobs like:

  • Software Engineer, Electronic Arts Canada, Burnaby, BC
  • Virus Researcher, Sophos, Vancouver, BC
  • Support Software Engineer, IBM, Victoria, BC
  • Software Developer, Schneider Electric, Saanichton, BC
  • Associate Analyst, HSBC Software House, Vancouver, BC
  • Owner, Stalwart Controls Inc., Kelowna, BC
  • Software Developer, Business Objects, Vancouver, BC
  • Staff Consultant, Impac Services, Calgary, AB
  • Senior Technology Analyst, Bearing Point, Victoria, BC

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What are the job prospects like?

Very good. Even at the student level, we have more co-op jobs than we have students to fill them. According to a recent survey, 94% of our Engineering and Computer Science graduates found work immediately.

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How much money will I make?

Our co-op students tend to make about $45,000 over the course of their university degree. After graduation, a recent survey showed our grads have starting salaries around $56,000.

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Our co-op students tend to make about $45,000 over the course of their university degree. After graduation, a recent survey showed our grads have starting salaries around $56,000.

What kind of computer should I buy for Engineering?

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There are several options! See the Engineering Students' Society list of the best computers to buy at http://ess.uvic.ca/documents/whatcomputershouldibuy.pdf


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