Computing and software
General computer support is available in MEB 261. Office hours are generally 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday (excluding University Holidays). ME computer support can also be reached anytime by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 206-616-1867.
Questions about purchasing a laptop? See the FAQ below.
Engineering student laptop recommendations/FAQs
- Do I really need a laptop? Will a desktop work?
As a student, a laptop will provide many advantages that make it preferable to a desktop. You'll be able to take your laptop to class and study sessions with your classmates. A few engineering courses will also require you to have a laptop.
- Mac vs. Windows vs Chromebook?
A Chromebook would be a poor choice since running engineering software locally on your laptop is not possible with a Chromebook and this is often required. Windows laptops are recommended since most engineering software runs only on Windows although some software do have MacOS versions.
If you have a strong preference for Mac, there are workarounds available to run Windows software on your Mac. You can use software like Bootcamp and Parallels to run Windows software, but this is an extra hassle especially if you did not prefer Mac to begin with. If you intend to use Bootcamp or Parallels on a Mac, a 512 GB or larger hard drive is recommended. The Windows license needed for this setup can be obtained for free by emailing email@example.com
- How much RAM?
8 GB minimum. 16 GB or more is preferable. More RAM is the best way to extend the life of your laptop. Sometimes more RAM can be added at a later date although this is not always an option.
- i3, i5 or i7 processor?
i5 should be fine. i7 is usually not much better than i5 and not worth the extra cost.
- Do I need a separate graphics chip in my laptop, sometimes called "discrete graphics"?
Generally, no. This extra option will add extra weight and cost to the laptop that won't provide much value to the average engineering student.
- What type of hard drive?
A solid state drive is a must. Solid state drives make a big difference in system performance. Also, how much hard drive space you want is up to you, but anything less than 250 GB can fill up quickly.
- Do I need antivirus software?
No, your laptop will come with built-in antivirus software. Although there is some debate about whether the built-in antivirus software is as effective as third party antivirus software, the built-in software is convenient, free and "good enough". Third party antivirus software can also sometimes be over zealous in its protection of your laptop and interfere with the proper function of your laptop and slow it down. If your laptop comes with a third party antivirus software installed, it probably is a short term trial of the software, after which you will be asked to pay for it. In that case, you should uninstall this software as soon as you start using your laptop. When all third party antivirus software is uninstalled, the built-in antivirus software will activate.
- Do I need to purchase Microsoft Office with my new laptop?
No, the Microsoft office suite is provided to you free as a student by logging in with your uw.edu email address at https://portal.office.com/OLS/MySoftware.aspx
- Where to buy?
If you do go with a Windows laptop, the best place to buy one is at the Microsoft Store. If you buy the laptop anywhere else, it will come pre-loaded with "bloatware", junk software that you don't need that will slow down your laptop. Microsoft sells these types of laptops without bloatware as "signature edition" laptops.
- General Advice
Go to the Microsoft Store and buy one of their mid-range basic laptops. Most laptops sold at the Microsoft store have been vetted as good options. The Surface or other tablets as your primary device are not recommended, but any other classic clam shell type laptops that they have will probably be a good choice. As far as brand, Dell, Lenovo or Microsoft branded devices are a good choice. Dell laptops bought directly from Dell can also be a good choice since they come with only a small amount of bloatware, usually just a trial version of a third party antivirus software that you can uninstall. Any further questions? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
General purpose computer labs in MEB 232 and 253 are available to students. Workstaions in these labs act as a gateway to our Remote Desktop system. After hours access to the building is available via a Husky Card swipe at the north entrance to MEB. For entry codes to these labs, contact the front desk.
The ME Department licenses a variety of engineering software for use by students for non-research related purposes. Most of this software is usable from the department Remote Desktop Servers. Information and Instructions for accessing the department's Remote Desktop Servers can be found on the Remote desktop page.
- Free student versions of AutoCad are available at http://students.autodesk.com.
- Other software packages, including Labview and Tecplot, are available from the College of Engineering for free. More information on software available from the College of Engineering can be found at http://www.engr.washington.edu/mycoe/computing/software/index.html
- If other software is needed for research purposes or for installation on personally-owned computers, individual licenses can also be purchased through the College of Engineering at discounted prices.
Printing, copying and scan-to-email are available for ME students on multi-function devices located in MEB 264. At this time, only ME graduate students are allowed to print to the copiers in MEB 264 from their personal computers. Public use printers are available in MEB 232, MEB 253 and the Engineering Library.
There are two methods available for sending print jobs to the copier. The first method is to log in with your NetID credentials at https://me-print.me.washington.edu and upload a Microsoft Office or PDF document through a web interface. This is a quick and easy way to send print jobs that doesn't require a driver installation however it does have limitations. The second method for sending print jobs is to have a specially configured print driver installed on your personal computer. Download the instructions for more information.
Note that printing is only available from computers connected to the UW Seattle Campus network and although all ME faculty and staff should be enabled for printing at https://me-print.me.washington.edu, if you are not able to log in, you may need to request that your NetID be added to the system. Contact ME Computer Support at email@example.com for more information.