What to Expect
Brace yourself for plenty of competition in a computer engineering program.
Your classmates likely had high school marks that were just as outstanding
"When coming into CE, you are joining the best and brightest in the country
-- the days of high school when you were always the top of your class are
long gone," says former student Chris Naylor.
Naylor warns that incoming students need dedication and a good work
ethic to succeed. "There is a large workload, and time management plays
a key role," he says.
He adds that most of his marks come from exams rather than homework,
so study skills are important.
"A typical day involves attending classes, tutorials and lab sessions,"
says former student Ian Tien. "On top of that, there's reading, homework,
assignments, programming projects, co-op applications, pre-labs and post-labs."
He adds that preparing for labs can take up the better part of a weekend.
"Computer engineering is like double-majoring in electrical engineering
and computer science -- there's a lot of material to cover," says Tien. "Courses
are packed and sometimes it's difficult to ingest it all at the pace the profs
But it's not impossible. "Keeping up with school isn't too difficult, so
long as you don't fall behind. If there's something you don't understand,
ask someone. Don't gloss over it!"
How to Prepare
"Having the self-discipline to know when you have to work and when you
have to have fun is very important," says Naylor. He made sure he found time
to do things to help him relax and take his mind off school.
Tien doesn't think previous computer knowledge is so essential. "You don't
have to love computers to be a computer engineer," he says.
"You don't have to know what a transistor does. The students who came here
with strong technical backgrounds don't fare significantly better than everyone
else. By second year, everyone's at about the same level."
His advice? "Just make sure you get good marks in the prerequisites.
Almost all of the students in our program were at the top of their high schools."