While engineering students are encouraged to bring a computer to campus for personal use, it is not a requirement as both the university and the college have hundreds of computers available for student use.
If you do plan to bring a computer, please consider Kansas State University's computer recommendations as required reading for important guidance on antivirus software, provisions for backups, etc.
If attending K-State for the first time as a freshman or transfer student, you may want to wait to buy a new computer until you’ve had time to decide exactly what you’ll need for your studies. In the meantime you could simply bring the computer you currently use, or as mentioned, access one the many machines on hand both in the college and across campus.
A few additional considerations for engineering students follow:
Do I need an especially good computer to handle engineering coursework?
Probably not as a standard personal computer is usually sufficient for handling the majority of academic work such as preparing written assignments, accessing online class materials, sending and receiving messages, collaborating on class projects, etc.
K-State uses Microsoft Office 365 for all faculty, staff and students, so just about any web browser on any computer will be all that is needed to use the "cloud" version of Microsoft's office suite. You can have your own copy of an office productivity suite on your computer if you wish, but it won't be necessary. The online "cloud" version will offer opportunities to share and collaborate with other students or instructors.
Keep in mind much of specialized engineering software is not available in student versions and/or not licensed for personal computers. This is another reason the college and its departments provide computers for student use. When engineering software is available for use on personal computers, you may want the convenience of having your own copy.
Those running graphics-intensive engineering software on their personal computer should consider a video card with 1 GB (or more) of dedicated video memory. This would apply to mechanical engineering students who want to run SolidWorks; biological systems engineering students (machinery systems option) who want to run Creo (formerly known as Pro/ENGINEER); architectural engineering and construction science and management students who want to run AutoCAD, Revit or other Autodesk software; and computer science students specializing in computer game design. Some video cards do require larger computer power supplies.
Can I use a Macintosh for engineering coursework?
This is a matter of personal preference so the answer is a qualified "yes, but not recommended." A Macintosh is fine for general-purpose use but is not a good choice for running engineering-specific software, which is mostly Windows-based.
You will need to run Microsoft Windows on your Macintosh if you want to run Windows-based engineering software. This requires purchasing a separate license for Windows and installing it on a separate partition on your Macintosh hard drive. You could also install third-party software to run Windows in a virtual machine as a "guest" operating system hosted by the standard Mac OS X operating system. But you may still run into performance limitations if you run graphics-intensive Windows software such as AutoCAD or SolidWorks.
What about iPads, Android tablets, netbooks, etc.?
These are too limited to serve as your only computer but can be useful as a portable "second computer" to carry on campus for communications, note taking, internet browsing, reading online class materials, etc.
What computer resources are available to engineering students?
In the Carl R. Ice College of Engineering —
- More than 100 computers with dual monitors and full, 100 mbits/sec wired Internet access are available to all engineering students in computer laboratories, Fiedler Learning Commons and study rooms within the engineering complex. The college also provides laser-printing services and network file storage space for students. Visit these web pages for more information about our computers (hardware)and the list of available software (including specialized engineering software).
- Fifteen laptops, equipped with the same software as our lab computers, are available for four-hour checkout to engineering students.
- The college tends to use mostly Microsoft Windows computers, with a small community of Linux/UNIX users and a smaller community of Apple Macintosh users.
- Wireless access covering nearly all areas in the engineering buildings is provided, as well as wired network connections in several public areas in engineering buildings.
- Engineering departments provide additional computer laboratories for their students, often with highly specialized discipline-specific software.
For general information about the Kansas State University computing environment, please see the new to K-State webpage for resources available to all students.