Essential Technology for Students

The Grainger College of Engineering provides recommended technology for students that prepares them for a variety instruction scenarios.
  • To be prepared for any potential learning scenario, each student will need:
  • The ability to view lectures and supplementary materials online
  • The ability to use specialized Engineering software packages for coursework
  • The ability to interact and collaborate digitally with professors, TAs, and peer students
  • The ability to take an online exam and interact with course proctors on a separate device

Essential Technology

The following essential technology allows for flexibility and usability across disciplines within Grainger College of Engineering. These will serve a student well both on campus and in a hybrid or remote learning environment.

While less flexible and fully featured, Grainger College of Engineering students can complete their educational experience by purchasing at minimum a budget Windows laptop for online participation and notetaking, a smartphone, and headset.

Essential Technology
Tablet or 2-in-1
Function & Features
  • Daily coursework
  • Campus resource connectivity 
  • Facilitate group work 
  • Digital inking and annotating
  • Note-taking
  • Extensive battery life
  • Photo/video creation & editing
  • Use in place of a webcam
  • Use to support remote exam proctoring
  • Use as a document camera with an inexpensive phone mount
Recommended Models

Windows & MacOS

Current Recommended Models Guide

Top Models:
MacBook Air M2

Apple iPad
Samsung Galaxy 

Microsoft Surface Pro Bundles
Dell Latitude 7200 2-in-1

Laptop Specifications

Students should choose a model that has enough memory and hard drive storage (see below), and is powerful enough to provide satisfactory performance over a three-to-four year lifespan. For maximum flexibility consider a 2-in-1 style laptop that folds into a tablet for digital inking.

Memory (RAM) 16GB highly recommended
32GB recommended for heavy graphics or visualization work
8GB minimum for tablets or basic use
Storage 512GB or greater required; 256GB minimum 
Processor Core i5 or i7, or i9 or 4+ Cores (power user/gaming)
Operating System

Windows 10/11; macOS 13 (Ventura)

*A Chromebook or tablet alone will generally be insufficient.Chromebooks or tablets running iOS or Android may not be able to run software required for courses. We only recommend them as a secondary computing source, not as your only computer.

**Some applications are not usable with Windows 10 Home. In this case, a free upgrade to Windows 10 Education is available from the UIUC Webstore.

Camera 1080p
Backups/Online File Storage (HIGHLY Recommended) Cloud based subscription such as Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive highly recommended
Warranty Most new computers come with a manufacturer's 1-year warranty.
It's recommended to increase to 3-4 years.

Windows or Mac?

None of our programs directly recommend Windows or MacOS. It's a personal preference. However, many courses use software that only runs on Windows. MacOS users may need to remotely connect to software (Citrix) or use virtualization software (Parallels or VirtualBox) to run Windows software on MacOS. Additionally, a Windows operating system license must be purchased to run Windows using one of these virtual applications.

The Illini Union Tech Zone provides educational discounts on purchases. They are also an authorized Apple repair center.

Network Bandwidth Requirements

Broadband wired or wireless is recommended for video. Below are minimum requirements for typical video conferencing functions. 

  • For 1:1 video calling:
    • For high-quality video: 600kbps (up/down)
    • For 720p HD video: 1.2Mbps (up/down)
    • For 1080p HD video: 3.8Mbps/3.0Mbps (up/down)
  • For group video calling:
    • For high-quality video: 1.0 Mbps/600kbps (up/down)
    • For 720p HD video: 2.6Mbps/1.8Mbps (up/down)
    • For 1080p HD video: 3.8Mbps/3.0Mbps (up/down)
    • For gallery view receiving: 2.0Mbps (25 views), 4.0Mbps (49 views)

Other Recommended Accessories

Accessories Headsets Webcams Adapters
Considerations Internal laptop mic and speakers may not be satisfactory for online meetings or calls, especially in a shared space. (USB or Bluetooth) If your system does not have an integrated camera, consider an external webcam (or your phone...effective!) Adapters for connecting to external displays or projection devices. USB-C and HDMI are the most common.
Recommended Models Logitech H390 USB Headset
Microsoft LifeChat LX 6000
Plantronics Voyager 4220 UC

Logitech C920
Microsoft LifeCam

Apple USB-C Multi adapter
Microsoft USB-C Travel Hub
Dell USB-C Adapter

Grainger College of Engineering Software for Students

Engineering WorkStations (EWS) labs maintain a large number of installed software packages requested by faculty that teach in our labs and are available to Grainger College of Engineering students.

EWS also offers Remote Access to engineering software applications outside the lab made available to students for Windows, Mac, and Linux environments.

Visit the UIUC Webstore for other software available to students.

Student Assistance Center

If a student does not have access to functional computers or internet connectivity, they can contact the Student Assistance Center at 217-333-0050 or The Center serves as the first point of contact for students who contact the Office of the Dean of Students. The Assistant Deans help students understand university policies and procedures, educate them about and connect them to campus resources, and support students in crisis.

Contact Engineering IT

Need more help? Reach out to Engineering IT at or 217-333-1313.

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Keywordshardware students devices instruction laptop essential technology webcams software window mac   Doc ID104963
OwnerMelissa W.GroupEngineering IT
Shared Services
Created2020-08-14 13:52:55Updated2023-04-17 08:45:22
SitesUniversity of Illinois Engineering IT
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