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Computer Requirement Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

To be successful all Engineering students need a minimum level of hardware to be able to run required software programs. Professors also count on students having a standard minimum level of technology available in their classrooms. Students with technology not meeting the requirement will be at a disadvantage. Just like course prerequisites ensure a common level of knowledge among students, a computing requirement ensures a common level of technology.

The 2-in-1 tablet with active digital stylus simply replaces the need to carry notebooks to class.  Notes taken digitally afford many advantages over paper.  They can be synced instantly to the cloud making lost notes a thing of the past and allowing notes to be easily accessed on any device (phones, desktop computers, etc.)  Notes can be moved and additional writing space can be added at will.  You are no longer constrained by the size of your paper. Handwritten notes can be searched as easily as typed notes. (Check out Microsoft OneNote)  Of course diagramming and equation writing are very easy too. An additional benefit for students is limiting the distraction of the computer and the internet if their computer is being used to take notes.  In class faculty can have students solve problems and digitally display their work on the board or have them turn in their work digitally for grading. Collaborating is now easily done across campus, across the state, or across the world with shared digital whiteboards.

Studies show students taking notes by long hand may actually learn and retain content more effectively than students who simply type notes verbatim.  It is possible that the act of having to paraphrase notes when writing in long hand helps students better process and understand notes.  Additionally, drawing diagrams and writing equations are clearly easier when using a stylus. 

The computers that are pre-configured to meet our minimum requirements at the bookstore are all business class systems.  Business-class computers are more reliable, stable and rugged than consumer-class devices and are designed to take the hard handling that occurs when students carry their computers to class in their backpacks on a daily basis. Warranties also add significant cost to the computers. When comparing computers make sure to compare computers in the same class (business versus consumer) with similar warranties. 

The bookstore provides computers that are pre-configured to meet the minimum requirements and include four year warranty and accidental damage warranty options. The convenience of service from the bookstore is invaluable to students who cannot easily coordinate deliveries or service by computer vendors while taking classes. When technical issues occur, the bookstore will work with vendors to quickly resolve the issue for the student.  

No, but few students can afford to replace or repair a computer immediately if it breaks.  Repairs are often very expensive.  One of the most common issues are damaged screens.  Repairs for damaged screens usually start at around $700.  If you can afford to buy a new computer immediately, the warranty is not necessary. 

Surprisingly, the bookstore service history shows that more computers are serviced for accidental damage repairs than for regular warranty repairs.  Students are very hard on their computers.  If you cannot afford to repair or replace your computer immediately if it breaks, you should purchase an accidental damage policy.  

All incoming students are expected to meet our current hardware requirements, regardless of level.

Capacitive touch styluses are very simple and only simulate writing with your fingers.  They do not provide the accuracy and crisp lines required to take notes effectively, draw and annotate diagrams, and write and solve equations.  More information about active digital styluses.

Yes, Apple MacBooks are acceptable if they meet all of the same requirements as a Windows system. More information about bringing an Apple MacBook.

Do you still have questions?

  1. Check out our Virtual Info/Q&A Session recording or just the slides.
  2. If you need more immediate assistance, please email our Instructional Technology Office or call 540-231-9076.