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10 Post-secondary Programs Fueling Waterloo’s Auto Industry

Access to talent makes Waterloo an ideal location for automotive companies. Learn what post-secondary programs are preparing students for careers that drive the industry forward.

Waterloo is a thriving hub of innovation that has attracted major automotive companies like Toyota, Ford and Bosch.

However, it isn’t only the big brands that are putting Waterloo on the map. It’s the whole ecosystem – the growing businesses, the ground-breaking research and the next generation of talent graduating from Waterloo’s three renowned post-secondary institutions.

As the world shifts towards sustainable and connected mobility, Waterloo is helping to steer the future of transportation in Canada and across the globe. It’s home to 90+ autotech companies – from startups to innovation hubs to global manufacturers – and it has become a hotbed for new technology and talent that will drive the industry forward.

In this article, we’re highlighting 10 post-secondary programs that are fueling Waterloo’s automotive industry, from engineering to advanced manufacturing to supply chain. But first, let’s explore a few of the reasons Waterloo is an excellent strategic choice for growing automotive companies.

What makes Waterloo ideal for automotive?

  • It’s conveniently situated near major automotive markets such as Toronto and Detroit, providing companies with easy access to major highways, railways and airports to reach their suppliers and customers.
  • It’s home to several leading research institutions that are pushing the boundaries of automotive technology and helping companies stay on the cutting edge, including the Autonomous Vehicle Research and Intelligence Lab (AVRIL) and the Waterloo RoboHub, a collaborative space for robotics research and projects.
  • Waterloo’s collaborative business culture allows companies to connect with other businesses, support organizations and talent who can accelerate their success.
  • Waterloo has three post-secondary institutions that provide high-quality education and training in a variety of automotive-related disciplines – resulting in a deep pool of skilled individuals who are eager and prepared to enter the workforce.

Now, let’s take a closer look at the schools in Waterloo and what automotive-related programs they offer.

" In Waterloo, we benefit from both a strong tech culture and proximity to the critical automotive hub in Southern Ontario. The location is ideal to allow us to access auto manufacturers and parts suppliers in Ontario as well as the manufacturers and designers located just down the road in Michigan. "

David MacFarlane

Former General Manager at ETAS

What post-secondary automotive programs are offered in Waterloo?

The University of Waterloo is one of the world’s top engineering schools, with a focus on electrical engineering, computer science and mechatronics. It has also established strong partnerships with leading automotive companies, providing students with opportunities to gain hands-on experience and industry exposure.

Conestoga College offers a range of programs in advanced manufacturing, including robotics and automation, as well as skilled trades such as welding and machining. Its state-of-the-art labs and workshops provide students with practical, hands-on training that is highly valued by employers.

Wilfrid Laurier University offers a range of business and economics programs that are highly relevant to the automotive industry. The Lazaridis School of Business and Economics, for example, is recognized for its focus on innovation and entrepreneurship, preparing students to succeed in the business world.

Here are some of the programs that are producing the next generation of automotive talent in Waterloo, including a new automotive supply chain stream at Conestoga College:

Mechanical Engineering Program at University of Waterloo

This four-year program teaches students the fundamentals of mechanical engineering, with focus on the core areas of the field, such as mechanics and thermodynamics. The program covers topics such as renewable energy, biomechanics and robotics. Students will have the opportunity to gain practical experience through design projects and co-op work terms that can be applied to careers in manufacturing, material design and systems engineering. Learn more…

Mechatronics Engineering Program at University of Waterloo

This four-year program, which is highly sought-after, combines mechanical, electrical engineering and computer science to teach students how to design computer-controlled electromechanical systems. Students gain practical experience through projects, lab work and co-op terms. Career possibilities include design and implementation of robotic controls systems and design and development of electric, hybrid and autonomous vehicles. Learn more…

Supply Chain Management – Automotive Specialization at Conestoga College

Conestoga College recently added an optional Automotive Specialization to its one-year Supply Chain Management program. The Automotive Specialization stream, which is offered at the college’s Kitchener campus, includes courses on Automotive Supply Chain, Automotive Sustainability and Automotive Quality. The program prepares students for successful careers in the automotive industry and is taught by academic and industry-experienced professionals. Learn more…

Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) – Supply Chain Management at Wilfrid Laurier University

This BBA concentration teaches students the skills necessary to identify and implement the fundamentals of the five supply chain rights: delivering the right products in the right condition, at the right place, time and price. Students graduate from this concentration career-ready for positions in purchasing, logistics, transportation, warehousing, distribution and more. Learn more…

Electrical Engineering Program at University of Waterloo

This five-year co-op program teaches students the fundamentals of electromagnetism, circuits, algorithms and instrumentation. Course topics include power generation, clean energy, electric vehicles, Internet of Things, quantum computing, integrated circuit design and machine learning. With the EV revolution on our doorstep, graduates of this program have many career paths to choose from, including system design, manufacturing, telecommunications and more. Learn more…

Bachelor of Computer Science (BSc) at Wilfrid Laurier University

This four-year program focuses on digital systems, microprocessors and the interactions between hardware and software. Students gain hands-on experience through practical projects and can specialize in areas such as artificial intelligence, data science and software development. The program prepares students for careers in a variety of industries, including automotive, with opportunities to work on cutting-edge technologies like autonomous vehicles, connected car systems and data analytics. Learn more…

Bachelor of Engineering – Electronic Systems Engineering at Conestoga College

This four-year program is geared toward students interested in pursuing a career in computer or software engineering, electronics engineering, technology and/or product development. Through hands-on projects, students learn engineering and project management principles that can be applied to real-world problems. Graduates of this program are well-equipped to pursue careers in the automotive and electrical vehicle industries. Learn more…

Bachelor of Engineering – Mechanical Systems Engineering at Conestoga College

This four-year program prepares graduates to become professional engineers. With a curriculum covering interdisciplinary topics in mechanical, industrial and control engineering, equipping graduates with the skills to design complex computer-controlled mechanical systems. The project-based program also teaches students business methodologies, project management and team dynamics, which are essential for working in the automotive sector. Learn more…

Applied Electrical Motion and Control Management at Conestoga College

This two-year program is designed for engineering graduates seeking to expand their knowledge of AC/DC power for motion and propulsion. The program focuses on developing leadership and project management skills to manage complex industrial processes. Graduates come away with an understanding of manufacturing processes, communications, HR and safety practices that can be applied to a career in the automotive industry. Learn more…

Mechanical Engineering Technology – Automated Manufacturing at Conestoga College

This three-year program, with an optional co-op term, provides students with a comprehensive understanding of mechanical engineering technology, preparing them for careers in automated manufacturing. Emphasis is placed on the modern industrial production environment, which requires knowledge of manufacturing procedures and design, computer‑aided manufacturing and industrial robotics. Learn more…

Explore business expansion resources for automotive companies

In addition to Waterloo’s vibrant automotive ecosystem and location benefits, the quality of talent coming up through its three post-secondary institutions make it an attractive destination for automotive companies and manufacturers exploring a Canadian business expansion.

At Waterloo EDC, we provide resources and support to automotive companies that are interested in locating, relocating or expanding in Waterloo. Once you’re here, we help you get situated in the community and connect you with experts and local support organizations to help you grow.

Learn more about our complimentary services here.

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When you’re ready to expand in Waterloo, we’re here to help.