COE Computer Recommendations


The College of Engineering does not mandate that students bring their own personal computer to Penn State, but students will be required to use computers frequently for communications and academic activities. Computer ownership will enable students to benefit from the in-class and out-of-class activities and opportunities to the fullest extent. If you plan to buy a new computer, consider these technology minimums:

  • Profile: Laptop or desktop.  Laptop is recommended.
  • Processor: Intel i5 (adequate) I7 (preferred) or higher
  • Memory: 8 Gig RAM (adequate) 16GB (preferred)
  • Hard drive: SSD 256 GB or higher
  • Wireless networking: 802.11 a/g/n/ac
  • Networking: 10/100/1000 Ethernet (optional)
  • Display: 13 inch or larger
  • Operating System: Windows 10 is recommended with the latest Microsoft service packs and updates applied.  Apple with latest OS X version with latest updates applied.   
    *see note Considerations for using a Mac
  • Camera and microphone (if purchasing a new laptop, verify that it includes a built-in camera and mic).
  • USB ports
  • Sound card and speakers
  • Lock and cable (recommended)

*Considerations for using a Mac
Some software used for Engineering courses is only available for Windows.  Departments maintain computer labs with this necessary software.  However, if the need arises, there are options for running Windows on a Mac computer.  These options include Boot Camp (comes with Mac OS X), Parallels or VMWare Fusion.  A properly purchased copy of Windows will also be required.  Some of these options are available through the Software at Penn State.

**Exceptions to this applies to departments that maintain their own purchase recommendations, such as Architectural and Biomedical Engineering. 
Architectural Engineering Computer Recommendations
Biomedical Engineering Computer Recommendations

Software Availablity

Microsoft Office 365

Microsoft Office 365 is available to all Penn State students. You can learn more at

Software at Penn State:

Penn State offers students with a variety of software at reduced cost or at no additional cost, including the current version of Windows Upgrade. Please note that in order to download the Windows Upgrade, you must have an existing operating system already installed on your machine.

Information is available at

Microsoft Azure Dev Tools for Teaching Program:

The College of Engineering participates in the Microsoft Azure Dev Tools for Teaching program, formally know as DreamSpark. This program provides currently enrolled College of Engineering Students at the University Park campus no-charge access to the current Microsoft operating systems as well as development products like Visual Studio.

For more information, visit -

Anti-Virus Protection

The College of Engineering and the University strongly recommend including anti-virus software on your machine.

For more information about anti-virus software options, visit -


Other software applications may be required during a student's undergraduate degree program and will be specific to a major or course. Such software requirements will be conveyed to students by faculty as needed. In addition, each department in the College of Engineering has computer facilities and software packages for high-end engineering applications that are needed by its students for academic assignments.


No specific calculators are recommended or required by Engineering programs. The calculator that most students have and use in more advanced engineering courses is a scientific graphing calculator.  Students enrolled in Math or Scientific courses should check with their advisors in those Academic Units about recommendations or requirements.



The faculty and staff of Networking, Computing and Training Services are proud to be an organization within the College of Engineering’s Dean’s Office. This small but extremely dedicated assembly of personnel work in four groups that support the College’s educational, research, and administrative operations.

Networking, Computing & Training Services (NCTS)

149 Hammond Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-4710