When you talk about an innovative space for students to learn, The University of Waterloo has to be at the top of the list. In fact, it’s first and second on many lists in terms of innovation. To be innovative, universities should have original ideas or a spin on old ways of thinking and acting.
First, let’s explore what makes a university innovative for students. Then we’ll talk about how Waterloo specifically meets the challenges of its students. As a university attracting and educating young minds, they’re not afraid to be innovative and different.
Many colleges and universities are sending graduates into the world who can’t find employment. They’re spending years in careers that don’t fit in with their education path at all. Potential students don’t want to be the graduate who has taken out student loans for the education only to find that they can’t find work in their field.
Characteristics of an Innovative University
In Tune with the Job Market
Innovative universities will be involved with leaders in the world of business, finance, technology, or health care. It’ll depend on the focus of the university, but they’ll have contacts and relationships that will benefit the student. Whether it’s internships at top companies, credits for work experience, or training to match the current needs of the field, universities should be cultivating relationships that benefit students.
This is one of the best ways to stay innovative for today’s students. Many universities will implement one or two technological advancements on campus, but innovative institutions have to go a step further. They have to implement technology in every aspect of teaching. Some professors resist change, and at an innovative university, everyone has to be on board for it to be successful. The entire faculty and the students should be involved in technological advances and using them in various ways.
Adapt to Current Needs
At its core, an innovative university is not afraid of change. They learn what the students are currently looking for and adapt to it. For example, students aren’t always following a traditional career path. They don’t always jump into a 4-year program immediately after high school. The innovative school will adapt to student’s needs with varied enrollment procedures, criteria for admissions, or how courses are held.
How Does the University of Waterloo Stay Innovative?
The university is focused on research at its campus. They opened the Mike and Ophelia Lazaridis Quantum-Nano Centre in 2012. The centre concentrates on information technology.
They’re constantly opening new complexes and have more scheduled in the future. The Science Teaching Complex was a recent addition in 2016, and they have an Engineering center planned for 2018. The center will explore machine intelligence.
Take a look at this video which is the uwaterloo‘s welcome video for the center. Definitely a place that’ll make you go “Wow!”
Along with the advances in technology they’ll explore in these complexes, a huge focus of the school is opening their students to the possibility of entrepreneurship. This led them to create the Velocity Garage.
The Garage is a place for founders of startups to get their start. The space is a workplace for students to start their company. It’s a place where collaborations can happen between students and faculty. There’s a Business Advisor Team to help students develop their idea from a puff of smoke to a fully functioning business plan to execution of that plan.
Students involved in the Garage don’t have to pay for the workspace for their company or share a part in their new venture. They’re expected to learn from others in the same position. They can use the Velocity network, which includes alumni investors and companies. Once they have a functioning company, they’re expected to give back in terms of mentoring and being an advisor to students.
Programs at Waterloo University
Aside from the Velocity Garage, there are other innovative programs at the university like the Kinesiology program. It’s a science program that participates in co-op education.
There’s Nanotechnology Engineering on campus, too. It’s a program that draws on a few different fields for success. From physics to chemistry to engineering, the program uses all forms of training for its nanotechnology program.
Watch this video showing an inside look at what the Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology is like. Cool stuff!
Along with technological advances at the university, there are interesting courses like RPAS. It’s a course that will help students become licensed to operate drones. While this isn’t necessarily a required course, it could lead to innovative designs for startups or ideas that can be applied to other areas of education.
An innovative university like The University of Waterloo gives their students all the opportunities in the world through courses as well as extra activities. The university isn’t afraid of change. The school is at the forefront of change they’d like to see in the world. They encourage their students to explore, and don’t just expect them to memorize facts from textbooks.
You don’t have to be a student at Waterloo to have access to the environment that they’re offering, either. The Garage is open to applicants across the world, and the applicants don’t need to have an affiliation with the school.