A great post from my friend, Rajesh Kumar, on what makes Waterloo unique:
Waterloo’s message, at least within the confines of the University’s walls, is this: Learn to deal with shit thrown at you from all directions. And be able to do it all at the same time with minimal resources. Get a whole bunch of random crap thrown at you, and then learn to deal with it by figuring it all out one thing at a time. In fact, if Waterloo had but only one skill to teach its engineers, it would be the art and skill of “figuring things out” as quickly as possible.
A lot of my friends in engineering did this everyday: they skipped all lectures, and then figured out strange, complex concepts as efficiently as possible the night before the exam. We live in an age of information overload, when the time to “figure things out” or “deal with the unknown” is shrinking down to zero — fast. The people who can figure things out the quickest are therefore the most admired.