Student Owned Laptop Requirements

It is a requirement of the College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS) that all incoming freshmen and transfer students own a laptop computer meeting predefined minimum specifications at the start of their freshman year or at time of transfer into the college.

Since the 1998-1999 academic year (class of 2003), CEAS has required entering freshmen to own a personal computer (PC).  The goal of this requirement has been, and will continue to be, to promote the best possible engineering and applied science education and learning experience for our students, which is competitive with any other educational program. This requires that students in the CEAS provide at minimum the basic computing environment that they will need for their academic program. This basic computing environment includes word processing, spreadsheet, email, network access/browse capabilities, as well as limited engineering computing capabilities (language compilers, math packages, etc.).

Recommendation Rationale

The rationale for the student owned computer requirement involves many factors, some of which include:

  • The College concentrates its limited computing resources on providing workstations and engineering and applied science software required to support coursework.  The University has implemented a university-wide Information Technology and Instructional Equipment Fee which provides limited funds for these computing lab resources.  These funds are not sufficient for providing personal computing.  Students must provide their own personal computing (word processing, email, etc.) using their own computer. Personal computing on campus should be done with the use of the student’s laptop, not in the college labs.
  • A laptop with wireless network access allows students to use their personal laptop while they are on campus, between and during classes.  If they have their own laptop with them, a student can avoid having to find an open computer system in a college computer lab.
  • By having their own laptop, students can fully benefit from the computer programs and documentation frequently delivered as part of an engineering textbook from any location.
  • Many students already plan to own their own computers and want guidance on what hardware/software to buy.
  • A laptop computer is required because a portable computer with wireless network access allows students to use their device while they are on campus, between and during classes.  If they have their own laptop with them, a student can avoid having to find an open computer system in a computer lab or returning to the location of their desktop computer.
  • Requiring student ownership of hardware/software means that these costs are included in financial aid considerations.

Minimum Requirements

Minimum computer requirements are established for each group of engineering and applied science students by graduating class.  Minimum requirements are published during the spring term, before students enter CEAS, and are not changed after they are defined for a specific group of students. Due to the length of the academic program (5 years) and the required cooperative work assignments, there are many reasons for considering a purchase that exceeds the minimum college requirement.

These requirements are the minimum requirements for students in CEAS.  Individual programs and departments may have additional requirements for their students.

Detailed information describing the minimum hardware and software required for each graduating class of students is listed at:

Timing of Computer Purchase and Minimum Requirement

Students are required to have their own laptop at the beginning of their freshman year or at the time of their transfer into the college.

Computer Vendor Considerations

The University has made special arrangements with selected computer vendors to provide customized computers which meet or exceed the minimum hardware requirements.  Students are not required to buy their computer from these companies but should consider these offerings to help determine pricing of a properly equipped and supported system. The most up-to-date information on the offerings is maintained at: