Susan Tighe world-leading research

One of the reasons that Waterloo has become a vibrant startup community is because of the tech founders who are engineering graduates or researchers of the University of Waterloo’s Faculty of Engineering. As Canada’s #1 engineering research university “Waterloo Engineering,” is known as a powerhouse of research talent and a magnet for graduate students looking to change the world.

Founded in 1957, Waterloo Engineering is Canada’s largest engineering school and a top 50 school worldwide. With a founding principle of “inventor-owned intellectual property” Waterloo has loosened the reins on patents, copyrights, and entrepreneurial ventures. With the inventor holding 100% ownership over ideas and technology, students or researchers (often they combine in teams as co-founders) have complete control to patent or license their ideas, to commercialize, or to create a start-up.

Beyond the game-changing IP policy, Waterloo Engineering is home to more than 1,800 graduate students. In the last 12 months, its research experts and graduate students attracted more than $72 million in research funding from both government and industry.

It’s the close industry partnerships that set Waterloo Engineering apart from most engineering schools. Collaboration with industry – close to 800 Canadian and 300 international companies – allows for insider access and knowledge of the engineering problems perplexing industry. Graduate students are able to move the dial on research making important contributions to engineering innovation and economic prosperity. This, along with strategic research partnerships with leading universities in over 30 countries, means that Waterloo Engineering is always at the forefront of engineering research.

World-Leading Research Centres

How has Waterloo Engineering accomplished so much in just six decades? It started early with research centres in key engineering disciplines and kept ramping it up to become world leaders in research. Centres like the Waterloo Centre for Automotive Research (WatCAR), Waterloo Artificial Intelligence Institute (, Centre for Bioengineering and Biotechnology, The Water Institute and Centre for Intelligent Antenna and Radio Systems (CIARS) are where infrastructure and resources get co-ordinated, collaboration is encouraged and research is integrated from one end of a system to another. Graduate students work hand in hand with world-class researchers (in part attracted to Waterloo’s liberal IP policy) and enjoy a vibrant, multi-cultural community.

William Melek Robohub AI OptionA new research facility to Waterloo Engineering is RoboHub – located in the Engineering 7 this two-storey space dedicated to advanced robotics testing. In 2015, Professor William Melek, the hub’s Director, was awarded CA$4.5 million in RoboHub research support through the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s esteemed Innovation Fund. Such facilities and awards enable Master’s and PhD students to participate in groundbreaking research under the direction of world-renowned professors.

“Nowhere else on the planet will you find the same advanced robotics technology under one roof. It will place Canada at the forefront of this strategically important emerging field,” Professor Melek says.

Futuristic research laboratories aside, these buildings also play host to multi-media teaching facilities with an impressive list of equipment available for students to use: the largest cluster of super-computers in the nation, well-equipped machine shops and nanotechnology labs featuring the latest technology.

At the nanotechnology lab, Waterloo’s leading scholar in nanomedicine, Professor Evelyn Yim, focuses her research work on stem cells, nanofabrication and biomaterials that support the advancement of healthcare technologies to repair, replace or regenerate damaged tissue and organ structures.

Yim was awarded research grants up to CA$600,000 in 2016-17 by the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s John R. Evans Leaders fund and National Institute of Health.

Research associate Aidin Taeb, left, and professor Safieddin Safavi-Naeini stand inside the anechoic chamber in the Engineering 5 building at the University of Waterloo.

Research associate Aidin Taeb, left, and professor Safieddin Safavi-Naeini stand inside the anechoic chamber in the Engineering 5 building at the University of Waterloo.

Meanwhile, at the Centre for Intelligent Antenna and Radio Systems (CIARS), Director Safieddin Safavi-Naeini has received CA$4 million through the Ontario Research Fund: Research Excellence program to help develop commercially-viable millimeter-wave, intelligent radio technology.

Professor Safavi-Naeini’s work is key to the transformation of a “truly digital society”, dealing with the development of radio communication and satellite communication infrastructure included in disruptive technologies, such as autonomous vehicles.

Funding opportunities for all

Ask any grad school applicant about the top obstacles to pursuing further education, especially a top-notch school like Waterloo Engineering, and their answer will most likely be “money.”

But at Waterloo Engineering, full-time students enrolled in research-based programs receive a guaranteed minimum annual funding allowance, and the Faculty focuses on continually improving the allowance and introducing additional funding opportunities.

Clean Room in the Centre for Integrated Engineering Waterloo Engineering

Clean Room in the Centre for Integrated Engineering

In spring 2018, we began offering additional fellowships for Canadian and Permanent Resident students entering Engineering Research Programs. The initiative includes PhD Fellowships valued at up to $160,000 over 4 years, MASc Fellowships valued at up to $55,000 over 2 years, and a $5,000 Dean’s entrance award for top graduate students. Tri-Agency (Vanier, NSERC, CIHR and SSHRC) award recipients will also receive $10,000-$20,000 in additional funding from the University of Waterloo President’s Graduate Scholarship.

As for international PhD students, the guaranteed minimum funding they receive – CA$23,000 a year – offsets the difference in tuition costs for international students. This means that international students make the same as domestic students.

There are also awards for engineering graduate students from all disciplines and specialized fellowships for those working in the field of Advanced Manufacturing. Students can apply for myriad specialised employment opportunities – including positions such as Teaching Assistantship (TA) and Graduate Research Assistantship (RA) – to finance their education.


To explore where a graduate degree could take you, check out Waterloo Engineering Graduate Career Pathways.