Student Computer Recommendations
The College strongly recommends that all Engineering students have a laptop computer. A computer is essential to provide access to email and other online systems that are essential to the student experience. Having a laptop allows the student to take that access wherever they go, including study sessions on campus, and even into class.
Students will use their computers to write papers and create project documents, as well as to participate in remote/online activities (classes, help sessions, etc.). Especially with recent circumstances, the importance of computers as a communications tool, supporting the frequent use of online meetings and conversations, has increased significantly.
A student’s computer will also provide access to important specialized engineering software that will allow them to complete assignments. FAMU and FSU engineering students can use many of these software applications virtually from their computer, via the myFSUVLab system. In some (limited) cases, students will be able to obtain copies of specialized engineering software to install directly on their personal computer. Note, however, that all required engineering software is typically available in our on-campus computer labs. Our computer labs are especially useful when students work in teams, when a student does not have a personal computer, or when a student has an Apple Mac computer (see more about Macs below).
We do not recommend specific computer models. However, our recommended minimum hardware specifications for a computer system are:
- Intel Core i5 Processor
- 8GB RAM
- 256GB Solid State Drive
These are minimum specifications, and it is a good idea to exceed them (especially if one intends to use the computer for a few years).
We also strongly recommend that students obtain at least one, 16GB flash drive, for backup and file transfer purposes. Students can also backup their important files on the College of Engineering’s network, and through university-provided access to Microsoft OneDrive.
The college strongly recommends that students have access to a webcam and microphone, to allow them to participate fully in online activities. Most laptop computers have built-in webcams and microphones, and it is easy and inexpensive to add a webcam/microphone combo to a desktop computer.
We recommend one’s personal computer utilize a recent version of Microsoft Windows (at this time, preferably Windows 10). Students should also obtain Microsoft Office, specifically Word, Excel and PowerPoint; FAMU and FSU students can get this software for free once enrolled. (There are also free alternative products available.) Computers should have AntiVirus software installed and routinely updated; Windows Defender is available free for personal use, as are a number of other AntiVirus tools.
What About Using a Mac (Apple Macintosh)? Apple computers are fine systems, generally durable and easy-to-use, although often more expensive than similarly-equipped Windows-based systems. It is possible for an Engineering student to use a Mac successfully. However, it is our experience that there will be software available that does not run natively on MacOS, meaning that the student will either not be able to use their Mac with that software OR will need to install Microsoft Windows on the Mac as a guest operating system. Thus, we do not recommend that Engineering students purchase a Mac as their computer, unless they are already very familiar and experienced with MacOS.
If you have questions about computer recommendations/requirements for the College of Engineering, you may contact College Computing Services at 850.410.6446.
Faculty/Staff Computer Recommendations
The College of Engineering is changing the way we manage personal computers. In the past, College Computing Services (CCS, the previous CMS) provided advisory services when asked, and faculty/staff computers were generally funded either by the academic departments or via funding otherwise available to faculty members (start-up funds, grants).
At this time, the college is transitioning to a system where, primarily, CCS will obtain and manage computers for faculty and staff use. This change will allow the college to maintain greater compliance with university policy, guidelines and best practices regarding security and privacy, replacement cycles, etc., while also improving overall computing support.
This change will generally affect all in-house computing not directly/exclusively related to research.
The new policies and procedures are still under development. More information will be available here as it is known.
As for recommended hardware configuration, much depends on how the computer will be used – office use or research, fixed or mobile, etc. Generally, we recommend the following minimum specifications for faculty and staff:
- Intel Core i7 Processor
- 16GB RAM
- 256GB Solid State Drive
However, we strongly recommend having a conversation with CCS so we can tailor the configuration to the intended use. Also, CCS can often identify available configurations with special, aggressive pricing that enable our users to get more computer for less money.