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Essential Technology for Students

The Grainger College of Engineering is preparing for a variety of scenarios for Fall instruction.

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 10 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 & Mac
Current recommended models

Apple iPad
Samsung Galaxy 


Microsoft Surface Pro Bundles
Microsoft Surface Book

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 visualizations, 8GB minimum for tablets or basic use
Storage 512GB SSD or NVME or greater required; 256GB minimum if utilizing cloud storage
Processor Core i5 or i7, or i9 or 4+ Cores (power user/gaming)
Operating System

Windows 10/11; macOS 12 (Monterey)

*A Chromebook or tablet alone will generally be insufficient.
**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?

Many courses use software applications that run on Windows operating systems. Mac users will need to run applications by dual booting or a virtualization utility such as Parallels or VirtualBox. 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. 

  • 800kbps/1.0Mbps (up/down) for high quality video
  • For Zoom gallery view and/or 720p HD video: 1.5Mbps/1.5Mbps (up/down)
  • Receiving 1080p HD video requires 2.5mbps (up/down)
  • Sending 1080p HD video requires 3.0 Mbps (up/down)

Other Recommended Options

We recommend a USB headset with microphone or bluetooth headphones with mic. Internal laptop mic and speakers may not be satisfactory for online meetings or calls, especially in a shared workspace.

Logitech H390 USB Headset  
Microsoft LifeChat LX 6000
Plantronics Voyager 4220 UC

If your system does not have an integrated camera, consider an external webcam (or your phone...effective!)

Logitech C920
Microsoft LifeCam

Adapters for connecting to external displays or projection devices (USB-C and HDMI are the most common).

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.

Keywords:hardware students devices instruction laptop essential technology webcams   Doc ID:104963
Owner:Melissa W.Group:University of Illinois Engineering IT
Created:2020-08-14 14:52 CDTUpdated:2023-02-13 11:22 CDT
Sites:University of Illinois Engineering IT
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