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Computer and Software Requirements Policy Statement

To whom does this policy statement apply?

This policy applies to all incoming undergraduate and transfer students to the College of Engineering.


The College of Engineering has maintained a computer and software requirement for its students since 1984. This requirement defines the minimum computing platform evaluated for use during the four-year academic cycle starting with the first year experience. This requirement also applies to transfer students entering into the program for the year of their admission, i.e., you transfer in during the 2017-18 academic year, the Fall 2017 computer requirement applies to you.

The requirement defines the hardware and operating system that will be supported by the College and departmental information technology staff, and teaching faculty. Requirements are posted before May 1st each year. 

When to purchase your computer

Computers should be purchased between May 1st up and the end of orientation (late July) in order for them to arrive in time for classes. We do not recommend purchasing a computer before May to ensure the student gets the latest technology.  Computers ordered after mid-July may not be delivered in time for classes, but normally a loaner will be available from SWAT

Printer Purchase

Students are recommended to purchase a printer for their use. There are limited lab printers available on campus and they are operated on a for-fee basis. Access and methods of paying for print-outs vary by lab.

Backups and External Drive Requirement

Students are expected to backup their data on a continual basis. It is the student's responsibility to maintain the integrity of their data to prevent academic penalties. Students that experience problems with their computers that lead to data loss within 24 hours of an assignment being due should contact their course instructor(s) and SWAT immediately in order to receive official confirmation that the loss of data prevented them from completing an assignment. Students who do not backup their data or consult with SWAT will be liable for any academic penalty associated with an incomplete or missing assignment(s).

Software Bundle Purchases

Both the University Undergraduate Bundle and the Engineering Student Bundle are required purchases for all incoming undergraduate and transfer students. 

Transfer students with software packages from other institutions or vendors are still required to purchase the software bundles. This is to ensure software parity with all students and faculty and to give access to upgrades during the remainder of their engineering academic career.


The College maintains the Software Assistance and Triage (SWAT) Team, a group of undergraduate students that are hired to support the College of Engineering undergraduate student community. The SWAT team maintains standard business hours of 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday during the academic year.

Hardware support is available through the University Bookstore Service Center. We encourage students to visit the SWAT Team to diagnose problems before going to the bookstore for service.

Additional software and service support is handled through the Virginia Tech 4-HELP organization.

Deviation from the Requirement

Students who deviate from the computer requirement and therefore cannot participate in a specific course, complete a course assignment, or participate in the classroom where computer use is expected, without additional effort on the part of the faculty or the college, will be assessed any academic penalty deemed appropriate by the course instructor.

Purchase Date Consequences

Students who purchase machines after the purchase deadline (end of orientation) will not be eligible for loaner equipment if their machine does not arrive before classes. Students will be assessed any academic penalty deemed appropriate by their course instructors for missed in-class and out of class assignments due to the lack of their own computer.