UW Physics Program: Comparing to Top Schools in Canada

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In summary: So just generally, how is their department?In summary, the University of Waterloo has a highly regarded physics program, with a Theoretical Physics Institute located in Waterloo itself. It has been ranked as the top university in Canada for two consecutive years and has a strong reputation in the field of condensed matter, with notable faculty members and research groups. The university is also recognized for its co-operative education program, which can be beneficial for graduate school applications. However, it is important to consider individual interests and research areas when evaluating the strength of the physics department. Lee Smolin is affiliated with the university through the Perimeter Institute, and the University of Waterloo has a strong focus on quantum computing.
  • #1
Atomos
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I know UW is a big engineering, math, and computer science school, but how is their physics program relative to the other top schools in Canada?
 
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  • #2
Atomos said:
I know UW is a big engineering, math, and computer science school, but how is their physics program relative to the other top schools in Canada?

Definitely high and probably the best.

They have a Theoritical Physics Institute in Waterloo itself! (Perimeter Institute.)

I would suspect that it is a great school for Physics.
 
  • #3
Just a side note: Maclean's rated Waterloo the top University in Canada two years consecutively now. And I believe that's overall as well. As that ranking applies to Physics...? I have no idea.

Other Universities are actually outraged by this and withdrawing themselves from the rankings. Heh.

Wikipedia says:
The university has just completed construction of a $3.5 million addition to the physics building to house 2,000 networked computers, for use in the SHARCNET (Shared Hierarchical Academic Research Computing Network) supercluster. The building also links the physics building and the engineering complex, and as extra office space and computing facilities for the physics and engineering faculties.

Look at their website to read more about their Physics department. Warning: bias ahoy! :wink:
 
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  • #4
Yeah, I wouldn’t trust their site. I applied for physics there, but I am just afraid that maybe I should change to something they are defiantly strong in like Electrical Engineering.

My fears come from the fact that their admission averages for the physical sciences are in the mid 70's.
 
  • #5
Oh yikes. You don't even know what you want? Why would you be second guessing yourself at the last moment?
 
  • #6
I know precisely what I want: Physics, I just feared that it might not be the best selection for that school.
 
  • #7
Admission averages can be misleading. Usually, they have less to do with the quality and difficulty of the program, and more to do with the size of the faculty and how popular the program is.
 
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  • #8
I'm currently asking a relative if she knows about their Physics department. I'll get back to you as soon as I find a response. I still don't understand why you would want to move into Electrical Engineering if their Physics department isn't solid? Why wouldn't you just go to a different institution?
 
  • #9
Why not try UBC? As far as condensed matter is concerned, UBC is on par with U. of Toronto. They got George Sawatzky a few years ago, and it has been reported recently that they have managed to snag Nobel Laureate http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/westcoastnews/story.html?id=ae7c8aa2-41ee-4496-adc6-dcd0e871e01a" from Colorado. And they have always had a world-renowned optical spectroscopy group.

Zz.
 
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  • #10
Zz said:
Why not try UBC? As far as condensed matter is concerned, UBC is on par with U. of Toronto. They got George Sawatzky a few years ago, and it has been reported recently that they have managed to snag Nobel Laureate Carl Wieman from Colorado. And they have always had a world-renowned optical spectroscopy group.

Zz.
UBC is my first choice :smile:, Waterloo (among other schools) is just back up. There are just a few things that bother me about UBC, namely the apparent lack of coop. However, Waterloo is working its way up on my preference list because of their outstanding coop program.
 
  • #11
(You can delete your posts. You got to find where the button is)

Waterloo, is that the uni in toronto?

Is Lee Smolin a teacher at UW?
 
  • #12
Atomos said:
UBC is my first choice :smile:, Waterloo (among other schools) is just back up. There are just a few things that bother me about UBC, namely the apparent lack of coop. However, Waterloo is working its way up on my preference list because of their outstanding coop program.

Also, UBC is at the other end of the country!

If you got the scholarships, go for it!
 
  • #13
Atomos said:
However, Waterloo is working its way up on my preference list because of their outstanding coop program.

Great to hear you've been looking into the matter and have noticed that. It is a very important part about Waterloo! "The University of Waterloo is famous for being the groundbreaking proponent of co-operative education in Canada and currently maintains the largest such program in the world" ~ Wikipedia

Atomos, did you get an avatar because you were once a contributor, which has since then expired? I'm confused.
 
  • #14
Yes, coop is very important for me. Correct me if I am wrong, but the two main criteria for grad school admission are marks and possible undergrad experience. Coop appears to be a good way to pad the latter.

edit: yes, I paid $20 a while ago and it seems to have expired after a year :-(
 
  • #15
Atomos said:
Yes, coop is very important for me. Correct me if I am wrong, but the two main criteria for grad school admission are marks and possible undergrad experience. Coop appears to be a good way to pad the latter.

edit: yes, I paid $20 a while ago and it seems to have expired after a year :-(

I'd be more concerned with NSERC Summer Research than Co-op as a key to graduate school.
 
  • #16
That's quite interesting. The match is definitely between UW and Toronto University, which one is best needs investigation.
 
  • #17
quasar987 said:
Waterloo, is that the uni in toronto?

:confused: No, Waterloo is in Waterloo.

Is Lee Smolin a teacher at UW?

Smolin is at the Perimeter Institute, which is located in the city of Waterloo. Smolin has adjunct faculty status at the University of Waterloo.
 
  • #18
Atomos said:
I know UW is a big engineering, math, and computer science school, but how is their physics program relative to the other top schools in Canada?

it probably depends on what kind of physics you are interested in. it's probably the best in the world for quantum computing since it has many of the 'founding fathers' of qc there. i don't think i know anything about the rest. I've only ever looked into qc there.
 
  • #19
fourier jr said:
it probably depends on what kind of physics you are interested in. it's probably the best in the world for quantum computing since it has many of the 'founding fathers' of qc there. i don't think i know anything about the rest. I've only ever looked into qc there.

Err, sorry, I forgot to mention I am going into undergrad physics.
 
  • #20
Atomos said:
Err, sorry, I forgot to mention I am going into undergrad physics.

Also, I wouldn't put too much emphasis on undergrad physics.

It's basically almost the same all over Canada. The only difference is the students you work with. If you want to find serious students, you have a better shot at finding them at Waterloo than you do at Brock. (Where I am from.) But Brock has it's up sides too, which is priceless if you get to be part of it.

That's about it.

I know of people going to Waterloo for graduate school for Brock, so that goes to show, undergrad doesn't really matter. It comes down to being ready and showing that you are. Canada is a little different than the US when it comes to undergraduate courses. I would simply look for other reasons to choose Waterloo or UBC, like students (I mentionned), campus, location, and things like that.

Personally, I plan on going to graduate school for mathematics. Currently, Waterloo isn't my first choice. I can probably get in, and it's definitely the best in Canada, but the problem lies in the reality of is it the best choice for me? I've seen the advantages of smaller faculties as well as it's disadvantages too. For these reasons, I know specifically what I'm looking for when I'm going to start visiting schools in January/February. I'm going to visit Waterloo because who knows maybe they can change what I think of that school. It seems like a school that student/professor interaction is a minimum and that they busy you with a bunch classes. Not my idea of good education.

For undergrad, Waterloo was my first choice mainly because I know I can find students that love mathematics too. Rather than scrounge around by myself right now. Also, it can challenge the heck out of you, so that you know you're ready for graduate school.

But for graduate school, do I really want minimal interaction with my professors? NO. Do I want to be challenged like a psycho freak in a bunch of classes? No, because I'll be doing that outside of the classroom and by doing this you'll take away all my own time to do doing my own thing, which I'll truly hate! I will certainly transfer!

Anyways, pick a school where all the girls are. :biggrin:
 
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  • #21
Thank you for your useful input, Jason.

JasonRox said:
Anyways, pick a school where all the girls are. :biggrin:
Hehe, it is funny because in big pink letters in the science section of the Waterloo pamphlet they say "3:2 female to male ratio" as if it was the selling point of the program :-p
 
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  • #22
Atomos said:
Thank you for your useful input, Jason.


Hehe, it is funny because in big pink letters in the science section of the Waterloo pamphlet they say "3:2 female to male ratio" as if it was the selling point of the progam :-p

Haha, Brock has like 5:1!
 
  • #23
i think UVic's is 2:1, & they even have a really good physics department
 
  • #24
uwaterloo math is something like 3:7 :confused:
 
  • #25
Sisyphus said:
uwaterloo math is something like 3:7 :confused:

I actually thought they had none in the mathematics department.

I visited their school last year with my girlfriend. We were in the math department and naturally I had to go to the washroom. Then my girlfriend had to go, but we couldn't find a girls washroom in the math department!
 
  • #26
JasonRox are currently doing math at Brock?

I'm just wondering because I also am going to Brock. I'm currentyl first year in the math department.

Your exactly right when you say undergrad doesn't really matter. I was accepted into McMaster, UofT and Brock, but i choose Brock for several reasons. Namely I got the most money from scholarships from them and it's about 15 minutes away so its less stress and generally just easier for me. I just picked the best conditions where I could get a good marks and then go to a school like Waterloo or UofT for my masters or PhD.
 
  • #27
JasonRox said:
I actually thought they had none in the mathematics department.

I visited their school last year with my girlfriend. We were in the math department and naturally I had to go to the washroom. Then my girlfriend had to go, but we couldn't find a girls washroom in the math department!
funny you should say that because whenever I try to find the bathooms, I always end up at the women's room and have to walk across the entire hall!
 
  • #28
JasonRox said:
I actually thought they had none in the mathematics department.
There is one girl in the three math courses I'm taking right now, and maybe 40 guys.
 
  • #29
k3232x said:
JasonRox are currently doing math at Brock?

I'm just wondering because I also am going to Brock. I'm currentyl first year in the math department.

Your exactly right when you say undergrad doesn't really matter. I was accepted into McMaster, UofT and Brock, but i choose Brock for several reasons. Namely I got the most money from scholarships from them and it's about 15 minutes away so its less stress and generally just easier for me. I just picked the best conditions where I could get a good marks and then go to a school like Waterloo or UofT for my masters or PhD.

Yeah, I'm a math major at Brock University. I'm in third year.

I heard bad news about the average on the Calculus I midterms. What happened there?
 
  • #30
The class median was 38%. I got 75% which isn't that bad, but still could be better. It was my first university midterm, I didn't really know what to expect. In HS all what we did was compute questions, but most of the midterm was explaining concepts, theorems and ideas which was different then what I am use too.
 
  • #31
Sisyphus said:
uwaterloo math is something like 3:7 :confused:

are they all at sir wilfred laurier then or what?
 
  • #32
k3232x said:
The class median was 38%. I got 75% which isn't that bad, but still could be better. It was my first university midterm, I didn't really know what to expect. In HS all what we did was compute questions, but most of the midterm was explaining concepts, theorems and ideas which was different then what I am use too.

Yeah, that's brutal.

I couldn't believe it.

Who's your prof.?
 
  • #33
Prof. Ralph. I was talking to him today, he said that the most asked asked question during the exam was what is the equation for area of a circle. I couldn't believe it. He said "The high school system is ****ed". Those where his EXACT words.
 
  • #34
k3232x said:
Prof. Ralph. I was talking to him today, he said that the most asked asked question during the exam was what is the equation for area of a circle. I couldn't believe it. He said "The high school system is ****ed". Those where his EXACT words.

I know!

Ralph is an awesome professor! I have no idea how this can happen.

He's a great teacher. He's euthiastic and passionate about mathematics. He cares about his students.

It's unfortunate that his students let him down like that. I should start working harder myself, so I can better represent my professors.
 
  • #35
k3232x said:
he said that the most asked asked question during the exam was what is the equation for area of a circle.

I think I've had students ask me that, too, but from what I've read about Waterloo, I'm surprised that many students who can get in there in the first place, need to ask a question like that.

The one who really sticks in my mind is the one who asked "what's the surface area of a cube?" This was on a question that asked the student to calculate the electric flux through the surface of a cube of a certain size, due to a charge of a certain magnitude inside it. I can understand not recognizing it as a Gauss's Law problem, but...
 

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